How does a skinny guy become so strong that he can carry a bull?
Perhaps the best example is the famous story of Milos – the greatest wrestler in Ancient Greece. Milos was a 6-time Olympic champion known to crush opponents with his incredible strength. However, make no mistake about it, his legendary strength is not something that suddenly appeared overnight.
Then how did he get so damn strong?!
Well, apparently a young Milos began carrying a newborn calf on his back around town everyday. The calf would gradually grow, until one day, Milos would find himself walking around with a fully-fledged bull on his back. This is how Milos developed his strength: piece by piece, brick by brick, mortar by mortar.
The Principle Of Progressive Overload
What Milos practiced is called Progressive Overload in modern times. And when it comes down to it, this is probably the single most important principle in strength training. It is the only true indicator if you are getting stronger or not.
Milos didn’t lift the bull overnight and you’re most likely not going to bench 300 lbs or squat 400 lbs any faster. Getting strong, and I mean STRONG to the point where you have muscles to show is a slow, gradual, long game. Sorry, there is no magical shortcut, it’s going to take some hard work and consistency. This is just the cold, hard, honest truth.
So what are some examples of progressive overload?
The two easiest ways to practice progressive overload is to either manipulate your volume or intensity (load). To keep it simple, this means that you are striving to add a little more weight or repetitions at each workout.
This is a general rule. If the workout requires me to squat 250 lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps, I will not increase the weight until the target is met.
Week 1: 2 sets of 10 at 255. Only managed 7 Reps on the 3rd set
Week 2: 2 sets of 10 at 255. Only managed 9 Reps on the 3rd set
Week 3: 11 reps on the 3rd set. Completed 3 sets of 10 reps
GREEN LIGHT. TARGET MET. INCREASE WEIGHT
Week 4: 2 sets of 10 at 265. Only managed 9 reps on the 3rd set
Week 5: 10 reps on the 3rd set.
and so forth…
Using the principle and combining it with compound exercises will produce your biggest gains. Look at Milo – picking up a cow and carrying it around town is as compound of an exercise as you can get. He did it day after day as the calf got bigger. Imagine how strong and jacked you will look when you get to the point of:
Bench Pressing: 200+ lbs for reps
Pull Ups: 60+ lbs and your bodyweight for reps
Squatting: 300+ lbs for reps
Deadlifting: 400+ lbs for reps
But I’m a weakling; no way I can hit these numbers.
WRONG! These are just conservative targets. Everyone can reach these numbers and beyond!
It is just a matter of implementing the Milo Mindset. Consistent, gradual small increments are all you need to focus on each session. Check your ego at the door and do not compare yourself with others. Everyone has a different starting point and in the end, the race is only with yourself. Stay the course, be consistent and over time the true gains will come: making you strong, confident and dare I say, FIT LIKE AN ATHLETE (or 6-time Olympic Champion).
About the author:
Albert Cheng is a strength & conditioning coach and professional mixed martial arts fighter and founder of www.fitlikeanathlete.com. He has fought in the UFC and on The Ultimate Fighter: China reality show. He specializes in helping skinny guys achieve that strong, muscular, lean body that looks and moves like an athlete.