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Progressive Overload: What is it and why do you need it?

Progressive overload refers to gradually providing an increased stimulus to the body to make health and fitness improvements over time. The very basics of progressive overload is that we need to be doing a little more today than we did the last time we did that particular training day.

A frequent mistake is thinking we can only achieve progressive overload with increasing the weight. Many who focus on this tend to push the weight up too fast and end up lifting sloppy. Their body makes adjustments and “cheats” to cut down the load, so they aren’t even really applying the higher weight on their muscle like they thought.

Progressive overload is multi-dimensional and can look like:

- Lifting the same load but with an increased range of motion

- Lifting the same load and volume with better form and more control

- Lifting the same load for more reps

- Lifting heavier loads than previously

- Lifting the same load and volume with less rest time needed between sets

- Lifting a load with slower or faster tempo

- Doing more work in the same amount of time

- Doing the same work in less amount of time

- Doing more sets with the same load and reps

- Doing the same work while losing body mass

- Extending sets past technical failure with forced reps, negatives, drop sets, holds, rest pause, partial reps, etc.

Just remember: Don’t sacrifice form and technique for lifting heavier weight!

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