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Progressive Overload

Resistance Training is based around a few simple principles. One of the key principles is Progressive Overload.

Progressive overload means increasing the challenge on your body as time goes by. It’s generally thought of as being able to lift more weight or do more reps at a given weight, but there are other ways to increase the challenge, as we will discuss below.

Think about the story of Milo of Croton. The legend goes that, as a young boy he had a small calf, which he would carry on his shoulders. As he got used to carrying the calf, his strength grew, as did the calf. Milo grew to be an incredibly strong man who would carry his, by now, huge bull on his shoulders. That’s progressive overload!

Progress doesn’t have to be every single session (you’ll have good days, average days and bad days), but as long as you’re progressing week by week, month by month, year by year – that’s how you build muscle and get stronger.

Here are some examples of progressions

  • Lifting 40kg when you could only do 35kg previously.
  • Doing 10 reps when you could only do 7.
  • Being able to do 5 sets of 8 reps at 50kg, when you would previously tire after three sets.
  • Lifting the same weight and reps but with better form and more control.
  • Needing less rest between sets with the same weight and reps.
  • Being able to do a movement you couldn’t do before – for example, pull ups, press ups, overhead squats etc.

One of the key things I’ll be helping you to do over the few weeks and months is to carefully manage progressive overload to ensure a safe but steady progression in strength, technique, endurance, mobility and musculature.