When it comes to achieving your dream physique in the gym, progressive overload is king. It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular at the gym, or if you’re a beginner, implementing progressive overload into your workout program will benefit you tremendously.
So, what is progressive overload training?
The principles of progressive overload is to gradually increase the stress put on your body overtime. Muscle building works by micro tearing your muscles during training, and then repairing them. This process increases the size of the muscles. By progressively overloading, your muscles will continue to grow and grow each week. It’s a very common technique used by bodybuilders, and allows people to stay motivated for the gym all year round.
How can you implement progressive overload?
1. Increasing Weight
By gradually increasing the weight you are lifting during your exercises, the body will adapt, thus allowing you to keep increasing the weight, and build more muscle. Remember to use proper form throughout, as compromising this form will be less optimal to muscle building.
2. Increasing Repetitions
Increase your repetitions is another way to progressively overload the stress put on your muscles.
3. Increasing Time under Tension
You could decide to perform exercises progressively slower, with great form, which will also help implement progressive overload.
What are the benefits of progressive overload?
1. Power and Strength:
By implementing progressive overload, you will gradually increase your power and strength at the gym. For example, simply adding 2.5kg to your bench press weekly, will allow you to add 60kg to your bench press over 6 months. By following progressive overload techniques, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can grow and increase your numbers.
2. Avoiding Plateaus:
Progressive overload consistently challenges your body, encouraging growth and improvement. Through sticking to a routine and increasing your numbers gradually, you’ll be able to stay motivated and disciplined, constantly being driven by achieving new numbers.
3. Enhanced endurance:
You may find that during your workouts, you’re out of breath easily and find yourself giving up mid-way through. Usually, this Is due to your endurance, the ability to keep performing at high standards for a prolonged period of time is possible by increasing your endurance. Progressive overload will slowly condition your body to continue pushing no matter what.
4. Mental benefits:
The feeling of setting a goal and later achieving it is like no other. And with the help of progressive overload, you can achieve this feeling multiple times a month. These accomplishments can boost your self-motivation, your belief, and your confidence within yourself to perform well. These are effects which many people search for, and are achievable with a simple change to your gym routine!
How to implement progressive overload safely?
1. Proper Form:
Ensuring you’re performing your workouts with the correct form is necessary for all training techniques, but even more so when utilizing progressive overload. Ensuring quality form throughout allows you to prevent injuries, and also, lift heavier weight.
2. Realistic overload:
Slowly increasing the weight or reps per week is the best method for progressive overload. Increasing the weight or reps by too much at once will put too much strain on your body, and isn’t realistic to be able to maintain week by week. We’d recommend increasing at a rate of 5-10% weekly. This means, if you were benching 100kg on week 1 for 8 reps, try benching between 105-110kg on week two, also for 8 reps.
3. Rest and Recovery:
This tip is super important, your muscles grow when you’re resting, therefore ensuring you’re allowing your body to receive the necessary time needed to rest and recover is very useful. Progressive overloading means that each session your body is being pushed to its absolute limit, so make sure you’re balancing that out with enough recovery.
4. Tracking Progress:
Always track your weights and reps when following the progressive overload technique. Tracking your progress allows you to compare last week's results and ensure you’re on the right track. You can track your progress using gym progress tracking apps, a book, or your notes app on your phone. Either way, ensure you’re writing down all the useful info you’re gaining from each session, it’ll be super beneficial!
Now that you understand what progressive overload is, how it benefits you, and how to implement it safely into your workout routine, now it's time to get in the gym and work hard! Try and set yourself a certain goal and date you’d like to achieve it by, for example, you could decide to hit a 100kg bench press within the next 2 months! Or you could set a goal to improve your squat. Don’t' forget, healthy competition is good! Get in there with your friends and test each other's abilities!