Progressive overload is the key to progressing in all of your training. If you’re looking for the overriding factor that can help you get faster, bigger, stronger, more powerful, and run longer distances, then progressive overload is that factor.
What is Progressive Overload?
Essentially, progressive overload is the act of becoming more capable and being able to handle a higher level of stress overtime. For instance, if you can bench press 80kg for 5 sets of 3 reps one week, then you would aim to bench press 82.5kg the next week. You might also aim for more sets or more reps to increase the volume.
There are six main ways to progressively overload your muscles:
- Increase the weight
- Increase the reps
- Increase the sets
- Increase the distanc
- Increase the time
- Decrease the rest time
What is Progressive Overload Important?
Simply put, progressive overload is what causes our muscles to adapt and become more effective, whether that’s to lift more weight, become bigger or handle a higher level of endurance. Without progressive overload, then your muscles aren’t going to develop.
How Do I Use Progressive Overload in My Training Program?
The best part of progressive overload is that it’s extremely easy to implement as all you need to think about is doing more than you were before. It doesn’t need to be quick and in fact, rushing things might actually hinder you and have the opposite effect to what you’re looking for, especially if you end up injuring yourself. Instead you just need to gradually build up in response to what your body is telling you.
For instance, if your goal is to get stronger, then you’ll want to focus on adding more weight on the bar. There are thousands of online programs for doing this, but the best for beginners tends to be Strong Lifts or Starting Strength. Both of these focus on increasing the weight on your bench press, deadlift, bent over row, and squat which targets every muscle in your body.
If you want to improve your endurance, then you’ll want to gradually increase the time and distance that you spend running, swimming, rowing or cycling.
The key is that you don’t need to improve every single session — you just need to make sure you don’t regress and gradually the trend line is heading in the right direction.
If you’re looking for an effective training program, then you need to make sure that it includes some form of progressive overload. If a training program doesn’t show any means of moving forward, then it’s not going to work in any shape or form.