Progressive Overload: The How-To & 4 Methods

Bringing a training-related post that has helped me grow in the last year.

My training programme focuses on strength & hypertrophy (gaining muscle) by incorporating progressive overload. What is it? 🤔 Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise. In order to get bigger and stronger, you have to continually make your muscles work harder than they’re used to.

Below are the four ways that I incorporate progressive overload into my training:

  • Increasing the resistance

The way I use this method to progress in my lifts is by increasing the weight/ load that I use if that weight becomes too easy for me. How do I decide if the weight I am lifting is too easy?

In my opinion, it depends if I can push/pull that weight/load for 12 reps or more, or if I can do 2 sets of 10-12 reps with ease. For example, let’s say that I am squatting 60 kg for 8 reps in week 1 and the last two reps were quite difficult. It means that the next time in the cycle that I attempt that rep range, I’ll see if I can do the last two reps with ease. If I can, then I can increase the weight/load.

To make sure that I am progressing, I increase the weight by 5kg every two weeks. If that is too much, then I increase it by 2.5kg. If  that is also too much, then I’ll increase the rep range by 1 or 2 reps.

Remember that even the smallest increase makes a difference!

  • Increasing the reps

Increasing the reps can help create an overload. This does not mean that if I lift 40kg x 5 in week 1 for example, that I should lift 40kg x 15 in week 7 because it defeats the purpose of my goal. I use this method if a) I’m not able to increase the resistance that week due to external factors such as energy levels or b) if doing 8 reps is no longer a challenge.

As you get further into your training, you’ll know whether or not you are pushing yourself to a higher degree. However I would like to point out that if you are just exercising and do not have the goal of muscular hypertrophy and increasing strength and power, then it’s not a problem.

Focus on you, your goal and your bigger picture! 😘

  • Increasing the volume

I incorporate this method in several ways. I ensure that I lift the same weight and volume with better form and more control. For example, if lifting 80kg x 5 was raw the previous week, I make sure to practice it over and over again so that my form is correct and that I am controlling the weight. 🏋

Another way I use this method is doing the same weight by increasing my range of motion and lifting the weight with more speed.

  • Increasing the frequency

I incorporate this method by increasing the number of times I do a specific compound lift. Currently I am doing RDLs three times a week, back squats twice a week, front squats once a week and bench press twice week. In each of these sessions, the weight, sets and reps change weekly following a specific cycle.

The Outcome?

By using these four methods, I have noticed that a) I am stronger in all my compound and isolation movements; b) I have seen amazing muscle growth so far and c) my body is constantly adapting to the new stress I put on it.

If you want to grow your muscles, you can’t use the same weight, same amount of sets and reps periodically for years. You won’t see any results. The body can adapt very quickly to any stimulus. You’ve got to challenge it! ❤😊

Until next time,

Folakemi Olamide

8 thoughts on “Progressive Overload: The How-To & 4 Methods

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