Strength training: progressive overload, the key to success

Want to build muscle mass and strength with weight training? Then, in addition to proper nutrition and adequate rest, essential to train properly. Every few weeks exchanging training is not the right method. Of course, you will have muscle soreness when doing new exercises. However, muscle pain is not an end in itself says little about your progress. To build strength and muscle mass is something else much more important: progressive overload.Strength training- progressive overload, the key to success

What is progressive overload?

Progressive overload simply put means that you make a practice increasingly difficult over time. The ‘load’ (the seriousness of the exercise) becomes heavier as you do the exercise longer ( ‘progressive’). This way your body always mandatory to adapt to the harsher conditions. If you do this over a longer period? Then take your strength and muscle mass.

Example of power without progressive overload

You do in week one with bench-pressing three sets of eight reps with 70 kilos. You rest between sets you stop two minutes. In week two you do this exercise in the same way. That goes for week three, week four, week five, and so on. Week after week, you do the same. This means that there is no progressive overload. Do you train this way? Then you will, perhaps in the first few weeks, not stronger. Your body is completely used to the exercise and is not forced to make progress.

WeekWeightSet 1Set 2Set 3
Week one80 kilos10 repetitions9 reps9 reps
Week two85 kilos8 reps7 repeats6 reps
Week three85 kilos9 reps8 reps7 repeats
Week four85 kilos10 repetitions8 reps8 reps
Week five90 kilos8 reps7 repeats7 repeats

How can you apply progressive overload?

There are some ways to make your exercises harder. These are:

  • Increase the weight
  • Do more reps with the same weight
  • More sets do with the same weight
  • Shorten the rest period between sets
  • Increase the range of motion
  • Work out more often

Increase weight

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to make your exercises harder. In the example above, do three sets of 70 kilos in the bench press. The next time you do the same exercise, for instance, 75 pounds.

Do more reps with the same weight

In one week, do three times eight reps with a certain weight. In week two you are doing for example nine, respectively, nine and eight repetitions with the same weight. The following week, do three sets of nine repetitions.

Do more reps with the same weight

Example of progressive progressive overload by increasing weight and reps

The combination of repetitions and weight is a good way to apply progressive overload. You can, for instance, choose to do each set between eight and ten repetitions. If all your games fall within the ‘range’, then you go to the next workout to increase the weight. You will then get a slight drop in the number of repetitions. That does not matter. The next few times you go slowly do more reps. Your schedule may look like this:

Do more sets with the same weight

Instead of, for example, three sets of 50 kilos do four sets of 50 pounds.

Shorten the rest period between sets

Shorter breaks between sets mean less time for your muscles to recover. This allows the load is, therefore, greater. Always take two minutes rest between sets? Then you can, for example, that after a period to reduce to one minute and 45 seconds.

Increase the range of motion

Bicep curl with a large ‘range or motion”Range of motion strength training means the length of your movement. An example is the bicep curl. By starting the move from a position where your arm is almost stretched, you have a greater range of motion “than when the exercise starts with a bent arm. A smaller range of motion means that the task is less demanding. The greater the variety of the movement, “the heavier the training. So if you increase the weight, but then the “range of motion decreases (because otherwise, you can not handle the burden), keep fooling yourself.

Work out more often

Are you going to train more often? Then your body has a shorter recovery time. Because of this, you will increase the load.

The implementation of the exercise should always be good

When making a heavier use tend to arise to be sloppy execution. This is not okay. Firstly, this may lead to injuries. Additionally, you create an activity not adequately heavier as it means that your performance is worse. A simple example is the bicep curl. This exercise is all that needs to move your arm from your elbow joint. However, due for example to bring your lower back and shoulders move it is easier to go back and forth a heavier weight. However, your performance is less good, so you will just use the less muscle group (biceps) provided for this exercise. Proper execution of the task, therefore, always has a higher priority than progressive overload.

Do it step by step

Do an exercise harder? Your body has to adapt to it. It is, therefore, important to take small steps. For example, it is not wise to throw 50% of the weight with it. Do not be impatient with the heavier the exercises. This can lead to injuries.

Do it step by step

Progressive overload goes with ups and downs

Are you just getting started with strength training? Then you will fast forward. The longer you train your will become slower progress. Also, not always progress is linear but often with ups and downs. Sometimes you will move forward in a short time with jumps. And sometimes you will not or barely making progress over a longer period. This is normal.

Progressive overload and difficult to lose weight go together

To become stronger and increase your muscle mass your body has a surplus needed calories. This means that you need to get more calories in than you burn throughout the day. If you are working on losing weight will each day just ingest fewer calories than you need? It is, therefore, tough to combine progressive overload and lose weight.


Progressive overload is a condition to build strength and muscle mass. Do not weigh your exercises? Then not stimulated your muscles. They will not grow. However, it is important to progressive overload to do it the right way. Make sure your technique is always perfect and you do not take too big steps at once.


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