Your mind is a muscle, exercise it

In the world of health and fitness, and to be specific strength training and bodybuilding, there is a concept called ‘progressive overload’.

What is it?

Basically, it’s when you gradually increase weight, frequency, or set repetitions within your training routine.

Progressive overload is how we ensure that we are outpacing muscular atrophy which is when the muscles waste away. 

So if you were bench pressing 60kg for 10 reps 1 day, you’d add at least 1 set where you added a little more weight.

If you’ve hit a peak on a one rep maximum, you could look at your lighter loads and add more repetitions. If you can’t seem to break a repetition number, add an extra set. 

As a bit of a background, I am an educator off the back of many years of coaching in the health and fitness world.

I had a young exerciser approach me once (and actually this story has occurred a few times with different people,) and ask me, 

“How do I improve my bench press? I want to press 100 kg.” 

“What are you pressing now?” 


“Just the once?” 

“No, I can get 10 reps.” 

I went on to bet him that he could lift 100 right now. 

We set things up and sure enough, not only did he press 100 but he got to a 1 rep maximum of 105!

What he didn’t know at the time was that by good 1 rep max calculations, being able to do 10 reps of 80 likely meant that he could do 1 rep of approximately 105. He just needed to push himself out of his comfort zone.

The idea is to challenge yourself by pushing yourself out of a comfort zone. There is no growth in the comfort zone. The comfort zone and the success zone are NOT in the same location.

If we apply this same concept to training our minds, what would that look like?

Here are 6 ways to use the “progressive overload” idea to train your brain.

1. Subscribe to and of course listen to educational podcasts. 

  1. Read! And if you don’t enjoy reading, download and listen to audiobooks.
  2. Enrol into a course. Short courses, online courses… many are relatively inexpensive or even free!
  3. Complete a qualification. It could be a full-blown degree or a certification.
  4. Talk to strangers. I’m writing a whole other blog on this so I won’t go deep here but basically, everyone has something that they can teach someone else. Be open to learning from others.
  5. Proactively look for something new to learn every day. Even if it seems small. Small gains are still gains and add to big improvement. For example, you regularly see a certain type of bird on your property but haven’t really bothered to learn what it is. Now’s a good time.

‘All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.’ –Martin Fisher


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