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3 Pathways to Progressive Overload

Hardcore training is at the essence of any great workout program. It doesn’t matter what type of training you do, if you aren’t attacking it with the right attitude, then the gains you are in search of will take much longer than they should. There are many different ways to spend your time in the gym and most of those ways will elicit some sort of progress for you as long as you aim to perform better with each workout you complete. One of the best approaches you can use to ensure this occurs from week to week is through the use of the Progressive Overload training principle. Simply put, the Progressive Overload training principle calls for you to do more work each time you train. What that “more” means is entirely up to you but in case you need a little help with determining that, here are three great pathways you can follow to ensure your training success.

Pathway #1: Use more Weight

By virtue of you training with weights on a consistent basis, your strength will increase thereby allowing you to use more weight over time for the exercises you regularly incorporate in your program. When you train under the principle of Progressive Overload, using more weight has to be a session-to-session goal and not just one that will happen over the course of time. Once you have established a set number of repetitions that you would like to complete for your top sets, the objective then becomes one of hitting that same number with each successive session only with more resistance each time. So, if this week you hit 315 on the bench for six reps, next week your aim is to get those same six reps with 320. Keep progressing in this fashion until you reach your ceiling for strength in that exercise.

Pathway #2: Get more Reps

The next approach you can use under the guidelines of Progressive Overload training is similar to the increase in resistance but rather than adding more weight, you add more reps. Let’s go back to that 315 on the bench example. Let’s say this week you were able to hit those six reps and maybe that last rep was incredibly tough, but you did it. Next time on the bench, keep it at 315 but aim to make that sixth rep look even better and then go for a seventh. You’re still asking your body to do more work even though it’s under the same resistance therefore you are meeting the criteria for progressively overloading your body with something new.

Pathway #3: Every other Way

As mentioned in pathway number one, we all have a ceiling to our strength. If it were just a case of adding on more weight with each session we complete, imagine the numbers we’d all be putting up! Of course, this isn’t the case and even if we’re chasing more reps, there’s still going to be a limit to which we can accomplish that in this respect. So, what do we do when we’ve maxed out these options? Well, we look at other avenues such as playing around with time under tension and rep cadences. Get your rep speeds to a much slower eccentric or concentric travel time. You could also simply change up your exercise selection and start the process of getting stronger in that particular movement. Maybe you add in the variable resistance component and add some bands or chains to the bar. The point being made here is that as long as you somehow find a way to make the resistance harder and new to stimulate a greater response, then you’re on the right path.

Training isn’t rocket science but it also isn’t just as simple as picking up some weights and putting them back down. There definitely needs to be some thought put into what you want to accomplish within your training sessions so that you can ensure some level of success with each workout you complete. The Progressive Overload principle is a great place to start in that regard. Focus on doing more with each week that passes and don’t be afraid to push yourself to do something you haven’t done before. The only way to trigger new growth is by getting out of your comfort zone and doing things you’ve never done before. Whether you add more weight, add more reps or add new everything, you’re adding a new stimulus into your plan and that in itself will put you on the right path to greater results.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member