Progressive Overload is an important principle in strength training. Without progressive overload, you’ll never optimize your training potential.
Most people don’t begin their training journey with the ability to lift heavy weights or knock-out multiple sets of a challenging exercise. In order to get stronger and maximize your performance, you have to challenge your muscles so they can adjust to greater loads.
What is Progressive Overload?
Progressive overload describes the procedure of progressively overwhelming the body with increased volume, frequency, stress, or strength.
More on the Ways to Facilitate Progressive Overload:
Increasing Intensity: Raising even more weight in your following training session.
Increasing Volume: Doing extra reps, sets or workouts for a specific muscle group in your following training session.
Increasing Frequency: Doing even more training sessions than the previous week.
Increasing Mechanical Tension: Slowing down the tempo of each repetition within a set for any given exercise. This method is often used in bodybuilding and is known as time under tension (TUT). An example of increasing TUT would be forgoing the typical 1 to 2 second count on the eccentric phase of each rep in exchange for a 4-second count- this small change will significantly increasing mechanical stress on the muscle, and therefore meets the requirement of progressive overload.
Keep this in mind:
The goal of progressive overload is to increase the training stimulus without exceeding your body’s capability to recover. That’s why it’s so important you give honest feedback to your trainer regarding your recovery. If you’re starting to feel like you may be approaching overreaching or overtraining, be sure to mention it because pushing through can eventually set you back weeks or months. A good rule of thumb when manipulating training variables is to increase one variable at a time – this will help prevent overtraining but more importantly, it will allow you to learn how your body responds to certain training variables. No one person is the same so the more you learn how your body responds to training, the better off you’ll be as you progress during your training journey.