Progressive Overload: What You Need to Know

Progressive Overload- the most important law of strength training! If you’ve been an athlete or have been training for awhile, then you have probably heard of the term before. If you are new to strength training, progressive overload simply means that you are doing more over time. It’s more than just putting more weight on the bar each session.

These are the main ways to Progressively Overload in Strength Training:

  1. Increase your weights every week (intensity of load)
  2. Do more reps with the same weight (volume)
  3. Improve your technique every session
  4. Lift the same weight and same volume but with less rest time (density).
  5. Lifting weight with more speed (intensity)

During your first few months of consistent training, you will see SIGNIFICANT gains right away. This is often referred to as “Newbie Gains.” The body works incredibly hard to maintain homeostasis, so when you stimulate it with strength training, the muscle breakdown process will begin. But, you will also stimulate protein synthesis which is the process of rebuilding muscles which leaves you with bigger and stronger muscles!

After those first few months of training, you will need to start following the 5 principles of Progressive Overload that I listed above. This is why it is so important to log your workouts every session. Write down how many sets/reps you did with the exact weight for each exercise, so the next time you do that workout, you know what you have to do. It can also be a HUGE motivator to look back and see how much progress you’ve made.

It can be complicated to understand at first, but there is only one thing you really need to remember:


Published by Jonathan Valentini,

B.A. Exercise Science, Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach, Former NCAA athlete, CSCS, CSAC, CPR/AED

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