Progressive Overload

Feb 26, 2021

 by Blair Rockoff

If you're someone who trains, you've probably heard the term "progressive overload" tossed around by your coach, training partner, or maybe someone you follow online. So what excatly is "progressive overload" and why should you care about it? We're here to tell you what it is and why it's important to implement in order to get the most out of your workouts and to reach your goals.

Progressive Overload is the concept of slowly increasing demands placed on the body over time. This is one of the most effective ways to force your body to adapt and become stronger and more efficient. Whether you're looking to build muscle, lose body fat, run a faster mile, or just improve your health overall, utilizing progressive overload will help you make changes in a way that doesn't overtax the body too quickly. It also provides structure to your overall exercise plan and gives each workout purpose.

Let's look at an example. A person looking to alter her body composition (increasing lean muscle mass), would benefit from a full body training program, working out at least three times per week. For at least four weeks, she would follow the same program, with the same exercises, focusing on progressing those movements week after week. While there may be some weeks where progress stalls, the goal would be to slowly be able to lift more weight, or perform more repetitions of each exercise. At the beginning of her program, she may be able to squat 95lbs for 10 reps, and by the end she may be able to squat 105lbs for 10 reps. In doing so she has gotten stronger and likely increased muscle mass, supporting her body composition goals.