Episode 49 | LOAD vs CAPACITY

The balance between load and capacity is often a difficult challenge to perfect, but an important task in order to promote optimal health (and gains!), and to prevent injury. 

When load and capacity are not balanced, something will break. Most people are not aware that capacity is not often tipped by one specific thing, or lift, or workout, but instead multiple things eventually pile up and then BAM. Something hurts, or gives. The most common things we can attribute to that happening are a lack of nutrition, sleep, and emotional stress. These are all super important for your coach (or you!) to be aware of when planning your programming and fitness routine. 


Almost inevitably, we will all hit overload at one point or another. So what usually happens? The more that you work on something that exceeds your capacity, the more you will actually regress. For example. If you go to the gym every day and decide to max out your lifts every time, eventually your body will tell you “NO MORE!”. This will require a decrease in load and an active recovery workout, rest, and hopefully not a serious injury! Looking at whatever the last thing you did that “broke you” can also help identify your recovery method, and hopefully a better, more balanced workout program. 

So then what?

Let’s say you do get injured because you pushed past your capacity, and something went, “STOP!” (or snap, crackle, pop). Assess, rest, and take a holistic approach to figuring out the best course of action for recovery. 

Check out your levels in these areas – sleep, nutrition, range of motion, and pain. Then ask for help. This might (should!) involve a whole team – someone to help with sleep and nutrition, someone to help with the actual injury, and someone to help you program a plan to get back on your feet and enjoying workouts at full strength again. Just be prepared to take it slow. 

Load AND Capacity

So why bother even testing capacity, or adding load?

Because anything without a stressor will become stagnant. Our bodies adapt to the stress that we put on them; it’s one of their super powers. And, when properly recovered, properly programmed, and properly executed, stress becomes advantageous, making muscles grow (yay!). 

For example, take a properly performed rehabilitation program. Not all recovery methods require cutting back on physical activity – like when a broken bone recovers, it will not fully heal without stressors on the muscles around it. Adding stress to that bone, and those muscles will eventually become very advantageous to the body.

Chronic Stress

This is a different story. Some stressors and overloads result from chronic stress: stress incurred over a prolonged period. These require chronic recovery or a long-term process of healing. Some people, however, find chronic stress helpful in the sense that this pushes their body to adapt every time a stressor surpasses their capacity threshold. This is such an individual process, it’s super important to ensure that your pain and stressed are assessed on a regular basis, adapting your programming based on changes we may see. 

Greater Purpose Health and Fitness offers both remote and in person consultations and assistance for load vs capacity concerns, especially chronic stress. Click here to schedule an appointment with us.