How to Apply Progressive Overload to Your Program

One of the principles of an effective workout program is one that applies progressive overload. This is a concept that is often misused and misunderstood by many; so today, I will talk about what exactly it is and how to apply it to your program in order to reach the fitness goals you desire.

*NOTE: I will be explaining this concept using weightlifting programs to get my point across, however, progressive overload applies to any other type of workout; don’t fixate yourself to only one way of training!


What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of load/intensity on your muscles. In other words, it means that you are continually increasing the weight/volume within your sessions in order to make progress in muscle size, strength, and endurance. The heavier you train your muscles, the stronger and bigger they get.

How do You Apply Progressive Overload to a Program?

The concept is a very simple and effective way to have productive sessions at the gym; hence why elite weightlifters train with this ideology.

Lets say you start out bench pressing 45lbs (weight of the bar) for eight reps your first two weeks. After consistently bench pressing that weight and recovering properly, your body begins to adapt to that weight, making each rep feel easier to perform compared to when you initially started.

After your body adapts, you decide to add more weight for the same amount of reps (load). So now you’re bench pressing 65lbs for 8 reps; thats 20lbs heavier than what you lifted your initial week.

That is just one of the many other ways to implement progressively overload to your program, which can make it a bit overwhelming since there’s so many choices. But don’t make a simple concept hard on yourself, working out shouldn’t be a puzzle, choose three methods of progressive overload and stick to that.

The primary forms of progressive overload are:

  1. Load (more weight for the same # of reps).
  2. Reps (more # of reps with the same weight).
  3. Volume (more sets with the same load x reps).
  4. ROM (more range of motion with the same load x reps x sets)
  5. Form (improved technique for same load x reps x sets)
  6. Effort (same load x reps x sets with greater ease).
  7. MMC (mind-muscle connection; more muscle squeez with same load x reps x sets)
  8. Time (same load x reps x sets in less time)
  9. Bodyweight (same load while weighing less)
  10. Advanced (extending same load x reps past failure or favorably altering tempo).

source: @bretcontreras1

I would recommend trying 3-4 forms of progressive overload to your program in order to continue adding more volume without risking injuries or plateauing; the more variety you have, the longer you can stretch out the progressive overload for a longer period of time.

Conclusion

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of load/intensity on your muscles. Without applying progressive overload, your body will stay in its current physique without much change in muscle mass.

This concept is important to implement in your program as it is what will allow your muscles to gradually grow and get stronger. It is also important to implement multiple forms of progressive overload in order to reduce the risk of injury and stretch out the overloading for a longer period.

The primary forms of progressive overload are:

  1. Load (more weight for the same # of reps).
  2. Reps (more # of reps with the same weight).
  3. Volume (more sets with the same load x reps).
  4. ROM (more range of motion with the same load x reps x sets)
  5. Form (improved technique for same load x reps x sets)
  6. Effort (same load x reps x sets with greater ease).
  7. MMC (mind-muscle connection; more muscle squeez with same load x reps x sets)
  8. Time (same load x reps x sets in less time)
  9. Bodyweight (same load while weighing less)
  10. Advanced (extending same load x reps past failure or favorably altering tempo)

source: @bretcontreras1


Links

For a more detailed article about progressive overload, check this one out:

The 10 Rules of Progressive Overload by Bret Contreras

A short video explaining progressive overload:


Do You Want a Personalized Training Program?

If you wish to have a training program that applies the information I explain on my website personalized to you to fit your goals and assure you’ll make the progress you want to make, check out the “personalized training program” page and fill out my client questionnaire!


The reader assumes full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and nutritional advice before applying the content on this site to themselves. Samuel Navarro will not assume any liability for direct or indirect losses or damages that may result from the use of information contained in this post. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health.

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