Progressive overloading

girl exercising

In order for muscles to become stronger and more muscular, you need to progressively overload. 

Progressive overloading is a name given to a strategy of gradually increasing your weights every week or two in order to place more strain on the muscle. 

This minimises muscle adaptation and forces continual microtears which lead to greater muscle hypertrophy.

How to progressively overload?

In order to successfully overload, you’re going to need to manipulate your weights as well as your reps and sets. 

Reps refer to the number of repetitions that you perform a given exercise for before you can take a break. Whereas sets are the number of reps you need to perform in a row before taking a break. For example, if you do 6 squats, take a break and then perform another 6 squats, you have done 2 sets of 6 reps.

So, it may be quite obvious that if you want to grow muscle, you’re going to need to lift heavier weights every so often, but you may struggle to do so if you will continuously perform the same number of sets. For instance, you may be used to lifting 10kg on bicep curls for 3 sets of 12 reps, but when you go to increase your weights to 12kg, you may struggle to perform  the same number of reps. This is because the muscle isn’t strong enough to handle that kind of weight for that number of repetitions yet. Therefore, you will need to lower your repetitions to lift heavier weight, and once the muscles become stronger, you can then increase the repetitions. 

Take a look at an example progressive overload below. 

progressive overloading example

When you initially start lifting weights, you need to build you strength and gradually increase volume of your reps. Then, after 3 sessions of higher repetitions, you can increase your weights and return to the strength building reps so you can build on strength again and increase your weights even further. 

Over time, your muscle will become much stronger and bigger in size.