Progressive Overload

Now let’s talk about the first, founding principle of productive workouts.

We have learned how the hypertrophy mechanisms work, so now we will move on to learning the basic principles we can use, when applying the workload of our workouts.

There’s one condition to successfully building a good, balanced physique, mainly- getting stronger.

If we lift the same weight, for the same number of sets and reps, over the course of years, we won’t make actual progress.

Many professional coaches base their training methods, around the principle of progressive overload, and that shouldn’t be a surprise, because logically- Strength and hypertrophy go together.

Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese knew that exercising with heavy objects is a way to achieve a more muscular, stronger physique. A good example of that is Milo of Croton.

You might have heard of the legend, that says he used to carry a small calf on his shoulders when he was young, and as time passed by, the calf grew, and therefore, Milo increased his strength and muscle mass by adapting to the new weight he is carrying.

This is a very, very basic example for progressive overload, but it gives you a good idea on how this principle works.

How Can I Apply Progressive Overload In My Everyday Workouts?

As we said above, in order for the muscle to grow and get stronger, progressively increasing the parameters of the workload Is necessary.

This can be done by increasing the weight of the workload, the number of workouts, the number of the used exercises, the number of sets/reps as well as decreasing the time for rest between the workouts, exercises and mostly between the sets.

Increasing the optimal intensity, by increasing the working weights is the most important and constructive way of applying the progressive overload principle.

Despite that, you shouldn’t reach the extreme amounts of intensity. Remember that the optimal intensity for muscle growth is 70-85% of 1RM with 3-5 sets of 6-15 reps per exercise, you are not a powerlifter after all.

What To Remember:

Keep in mind- do NOT ego lift. Try to keep the execution of each exercise clean and strict, making every rep count.

If you put a disk on the barbell, or use heavier dumbbells and notice your form is off, take it off and continue using the current weight until you adapt to it.

  • Lifting as much weight as possible (Wrong)
  • Lifting as much weight as possible, through the full range of motion of the exercise, while still keeping a strict form. (Correct)

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