Fitness

Progressive Overload in Weight Training

If you were training for a marathon you I’m assuming that you wouldn’t just go out and run 26.2 miles, you’d train for it right? You’d probably start with an achievable distance like 2 miles and work your way up by adding a mile a week. If you were sensible then you’d probably schedule some deload weeks (weeks where you reduce your training volume). This principle transfers directly to resistance training too but for some reason people tend to ignore this.

It’s no good going into the gym and deciding to deadlift 100kg in your first session. Equally, you’re not making the best of your time if you’re just picking up the same weights and doing the same exercises week in, week out. Instead, you should be striving to ensure that you are making your workouts harder so that your body doesn’t get used to them and plateau. The progressive overload principle tells us that in order to get stronger or to grow our muscles, our bodies need to be stressed (by lifting weights) beyond what they are normally stressed by.  You can do this in many ways but the simplest ways to incorporate this principle into weight training is to:

  • increase repetitions (reps)
  • increase sets
  • increase training frequency
  • increase weight

You can also do other things like supersets, pyramid systems, eccentric training and forced reps. However, these are more complicated and they aren’t really necessary as adjusting the elements above will get you there. 

Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions, post them below. Happy training!

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