What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload is a strength training principle to make your workouts more challenging overtime. We have a saying in the gym “Do the same, never change”. This doesn’t mean changing your exercise or program everyday or week. But to change something to make the exercise more intense and therefore beneficial.

By changing the way you exercise, it can hinder plateaus, help you gain strength, encourage muscle growth, and build endurance. This is what you need to become fitter, faster, stronger, increase muscle mass, increase the “after burn effect” and therefore how many calories we burn at rest too (BMR).


There a lot of different ways to progressive over load:

  • Using a heavier weight for the same exercise. Make sure if you are lifting heavier, your technique is still perfect and not compensating by swinging and using other muscles to assist.
  • Add more repetitions to your exercise. If last week you could do 10 reps, try slightly more e.g. 12, 15 etc.
  • Add more sets. Do another round of the exercise to get more volume. By adding more sets you can significantly burn the muscle out more and get closer to failure. If you usually do 3 sets of 12 repetitions, try 4 sets next time.
  • Change the tempo of the movement. Try slowing down the movement to create more time under tension and fatigue the muscles. You can try slow negatives or pausing at the bottom of the movement. Just remember that doing negative reps (e.g. 5 sec on lowering stage) needs more recovery time.


The national academy of sport recommends increasing your volume by no more than 10% each week. For example, if you are currently barbell squatting 50kg and that is not challenging for you any more, try 55Kg the next week. Progressive overload is the key to building strength faster, break through plateaus and make your workouts more efficient.

If you are unsure how to progressive overload safely, consider using one of our personal trainers and get that push you need.



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