isn’t it incredible we have the power to sculpt our body into whatever we want? toned delts, bigger glutes, it’s all totally possible and within your control. it’s important to remember though that your physique goals require dedication, consistency, and an effective training strategy. nutrition is a huge component of it for sure, but so is effective training and progressive overload.
progressive overload is often overlooked by new lifters, since it’s easy to place focus on just getting to the gym and getting a workout in. while that’s totally commendable, after some time you’ll likely start to stall since you’re not continuing to challenge your muscle tissue. progressive overload involves gradually increasing the demands on your body during workouts, which stimulates muscle growth and overall strength development. so how can you incorporate this? let’s dive in 🙂
understand the concept of progressive overload:
progressive overload is the idea of continually challenging your body to adapt and improve. to achieve this, you need to progressively increase the workload during your training sessions. this can be done by manipulating variables such as weight, reps, time under tension, or intensity. the goal is to consistently push your body beyond its comfort zone to stimulate muscle growth and strength gains.
start with a solid foundation:
before diving into progressive overload, it's key to establish a solid foundation of proper form and technique. focus on mastering form for your chosen exercises. this will not only prevent injuries but also optimize muscle recruitment and engagement, leading to more effective workouts.
different ways to use progressive overload:
- increasing the weights used - for example, if you did 10 reps of lateral raises with 10 lb dumbbells, doing 10 reps with 12.5 lb dumbbells would be progressive overload! you just need to ensure your form stays solid.
- increasing the number of reps - even if you beat last week’s numbers by just 1 rep, you achieved progressive overload!
- increasing time under tension - maximizing the amount of time your muscles are at the lengthened position. for example, if you’re doing a leg extension, holding at the top of the movement (when your legs are fully extended) for an extra 1-2 seconds is progressive overload.
- increasing intensity - the best way to measure this is the rir (reps in reserve) method. if you had been performing an exercise at 2 rir, meaning you had 2 reps left in the tank after the set, then increase to 0 rir (training to true failure), you have successfully used progressive overload.
now we know how to use it, but what else do we need to consider?
- track your progress - tracking your progress is how you know you’re using progressive overload. keep a workout journal or even just use the notes app on your phone to record details of each training session. this includes the exercises performed, weights used, sets, and reps completed. this way, each session you can see what you performed last time, and aim to beat that even just by one rep. this also gives you a clear picture of where you started and how far you've come.
- implement progressive overload safely - while progressive overload is a powerful tool, safety is key. always warm up properly before each session, focus on maintaining proper form, and listen to your body. gradually progress your workouts over time, rather than making drastic jumps in intensity or weight that may lead to injuries or setbacks.
- prioritize recovery and nutrition - remember, progressive overload stimulates muscle growth, but it's during rest and recovery that the actual growth occurs. make sure to prioritize adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and hydration to support your body's recovery and muscle-building process.
your physique goals are so possible. progressive overload, fueling your body appropriately, and consistency will get you there in time 🙂
do you track your workouts? let us know in the comments!