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WHAT is Progressive Overload? And WHY should you be using it?

July 1, 2019

"Progressive Overload" is the main driver of muscle growth. Most people assume that it simply means adding more weight to the bar. 

 

This is just 1 way to Progressively Overload. But how else can we do it? 

 

1. Bettering your technique helps you build a stronger base for you to progress on the exercise and helps to lift more weight. 

 

2. Increasing the capacity to lift more weight for more reps contributes to progressive overload. More volume = more gains. 

 

3. Increase frequency. This technique can work particularly well when targeting a lagging body part. Training a particular muscle group more frequently (within reason) may help to bring it up. But remember - sometimes less is more. So don't be training your chest 5 times per week! 

 

4. Resting less between sets means that you've built more capacity in you training. 

 

5. Slowing the tempo down. Most people generally go with a 2-1-2-1 tempo (2 second eccentric, 1 second pause, 2 second concentric, 1 second pause). Try altering the tempo - for example, a 3-4 second negative (eccentric) on a bench press instead of your usual 2 seconds.

 

EXAMPLE:

 

Bench Press

Week 1: Set 1 - 40kg, 12 reps

              Rest - 1 min 40 seconds 

              Set 2 - 40kg, 12 reps 

              Rest - 1 min 40 seconds 

              Set 3 - 40kg, 11 reps 

   

Week 2: Set 1 - 41.25kg, 12 reps

              Rest - 1 min 40 seconds

              Set 2 - 41.25kg, 12 reps 

              Rest - 1 min 40 seconds 

              Set 3 - 41.25kg, 11 reps 

 

Week 3: Set 1 - 41.25kg, 12 reps

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 2 - 41.25kg, 12 reps 

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 3 - 41.25kg, 11 reps 

 

Week 4: Set 1 - 42.50kg, 12 reps

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 2 - 42.50kg, 12 reps 

              Rest - 90 seconds

              Set 3 - 42.50kg, 11 reps 

 

Week 5: Set 1 - 45kg, 12 reps

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 2 - 45kg, 12 reps 

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 3 - 45kg, 11 reps 

              Rest - 90 seconds 

              Set 4 - 45kg, 10 reps 

 

Notice on the above:

Week 2 - more weight for the same reps 

Week 3 - same reps and weight but less rest

Week 4 - more weight for the same reps

Week 5 - more weight for the same reps and 1 extra set 

 

In reality it probably wouldn't go exactly like this but I'm sure you get the idea! 

 

Each one of these tools is progressive overloading. So the next time you can't lift more weight and assume you're not progressing, notice if you're able to add more reps, an extra set, use better technique, rest slightly less between sets or slow the tempo down slightly. You also can't expect to progress every single session. As long as you're progressing gradually over time (like my Personal Training client Andy has as shown below), you're on to a winner! 

If you found this post useful, please help me out by forwarding it to a friend or sharing it on your social media pages.  

 

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✉️info@LHTraining.co.uk
📞07880805572

 

Personal Training in Brighton & Hove. 

 

 

 

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