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How to be a Stronger Person - Inside and Out

Updated on August 13, 2015
Atlas on the top of Linderhof Palace in Bavaria.
Atlas on the top of Linderhof Palace in Bavaria. | Source

Updated November 9, 2013

How often do you attempt something you don't think you can do?

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The Overload Priniciple - All Growth Requires Stress

Some of you may have heard of the Overload Principle of physical training. I would go so far as to say that this is a basic law of physics. Overload Training is not only important to every system of our bodies, but for social and emotional development and personal growth. You must reach outside of what you think you can to build new strength and to grow in any way. Confront your fears, travel, try new foods and music, learn a skill you never thought possible- it is never too late, you are strong enough (or you will be if you take the risk). Within reason- where there's a will, there's a way!

A U.S. Soldier from 2nd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1st Battalion, 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Bluefield, W.Va, lifts weights at Camp Yusifiyah, in central Iraq
A U.S. Soldier from 2nd Platoon, Bravo Troop, 1st Battalion, 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Bluefield, W.Va, lifts weights at Camp Yusifiyah, in central Iraq | Source

The Overload Principle in Physical Fitness

The most basic way that overload works is in strength training. Progressively increasing the weight you lift, and pushing yourself to the maximum reps you can lift, causes the body to adapt to the stress stimulus by producing more muscle mass. Besides the muscle building, your body adapts the way it delivers blood to the muscle and stimulates more motor neurons to reach more fibers of the muscle.

Cardiovascular training also requires progressive overload. Depending on an individual's fitness level, they are usually directed to work out at 60-85% of their maximum heart rate. For very unfit individuals, they may hit their upper limit just walking up one flight of stairs. The more that individual works out and maintains that upper limit, the more intense exercise is required to reach that heart rate. Even at rest, their heart rate will now be lower because their body has adapted and can deliver blood more efficiently. As they adapt, the amount of overload can be increased to facilitate greater adaptation and therefore cardiovascular fitness.

Even our bones respond to overload. Progressively more impact to a bone actually makes it stronger. (At this point I should also mention that there are disorders that limit the bodies ability to adapt to stress stimulus- such as osteoporosis, neuromuscular disorders and heart defects. Please consult a personal trainer, physical therapist or physician before beginning any new fitness routine.)

The Dragonfly is a symbol of Strength and Courage in Japanese culture.
The Dragonfly is a symbol of Strength and Courage in Japanese culture. | Source

Overload Principle in Mental and Spiritual Fitness

Behavior modification also requires progressive overload. If you jump too far from your comfort zone, straight to some extreme that you have never experienced before- you're going to have quite a bit of shock and most likely struggle to stick with it. My hubs are always written with this in mind. It takes small changes. Baby steps. And when you've made it to where you're going, you don't even realize how long or hard the journey was, and you're completely secure with your new place in life. But we have to reach outside of ourselves all the time or else we're just curled up in one place- never moving, never growing, never living.

Since behavior and thought has to do with the brain, this is likely a physical adaptation to stress as well. A psychology professor once told me that one way to prevent Alzheimer's was actually doing puzzles and driving home a different route every day- because it strengthened the brain.

And lastly- I believe there is a spiritual application to the overload principle as well. In Christianity it may manifest as, "God never gives you more than you can handle." I know there are similar teachings in other religions as well. Leave me comments with your examples! I'd be very interested in learning about how your faith supports the overload principle.

So take a risk, break the rules, face your fears, and live your dreams!

Life's Struggles Make You Stronger

Every struggle that you overcome, makes you stronger and more prepared for the next. Whether it's struggling through a workout, losing a job, the end of a relationship, or a challenge in faith, it makes you stronger. When life hands you something that's more than you think you can handle, take a moment to say thank you, then rise above it like a champion! Never lose hope!

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