A common phrase among gyms, “Progressive Overload”.
If you are a gym lover then you must have heard this about a thousand times, that too from various versions of people like Trainers, Gym rats, beginners, and also people who don’t go to the gym!
It is a widely known concept of training and is believed to be the best in building muscle in your body. All the bodybuilders and Mr. Olympians practice progressive overload.
But when we say Progressive Overload, what does it exactly entitle?
Let’s look at it in detail and how it affects your GAINZ!
What is Progressive Overload?
Progressive Overload is a simple concept in fitness where you gradually increase the repetitions, weight, or frequency in your workouts. This overloading puts constant pressure on your musculoskeletal system and makes it stronger. This in turn helps you make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance.
To put it in simple terms, your muscles will get bigger and stronger only when you make them work harder than before. This will help you get out of the workout plateau that occurs when your body adapts to the exercise you do.
Progressive Overload will also make you feel stronger as you will slowly start lifting heavier weights, perform more repetitions or increase your frequency.
This method is mainly used in Strength training but it can also be incorporated into cardiovascular training by increasing repetitions and adding more resistance.
Methods Of Increasing The Overload
1. Increase The Resistance/Weights:
The best way to increase the pressure you place on your muscles is by increasing the weight. For example, if you bench 30kgs and it is easy for you, try adding 2.5kgs on each side of the bar. This will increase the resistance and will be harder for you to complete the same amount of reps. This is since weight and repetition is inversely related. So the more you increase the weight the less will be your repetitions. But this is what will help you get stronger and get back to your usual reps.
2. Increase The Reps:
If you don’t want to add more weight then the best way would be to increase your reps. This will not affect your resistance but will work your muscles more than before. If you perform 8-12 reps then try performing 12-15 reps and make it a bit challenging for yourself.
3. Increase The Volume:
Another way to seamlessly overload, you can increase the volume of your workouts. So, instead of doing 3 sets of squats you can add 1 more set and perform 4 sets of squats. This way you aren’t increasing any resistance on your muscles but they will still be working more than before.
4. Increase Training Frequency:
If you train each muscle group only once a week then you can increase your frequency and train it twice a week by doing split training (i.e. working for more than 1 muscle group at once). This also helps target the weak muscle group. For instance, if you feel that your shoulders seem weak then you can do Chest-Shoulders on Monday and again on Thursday.
An ideal split for the week would be:
Chest-Shoulders - Monday
Back-Bicep - Tuesday
Legs-Triceps - Wednesday
Chest-Shoulders - Thursday
Back-Bicep - Friday
Legs-Triceps - Saturday
Rest-day - Sunday
5. Decrease Rest Time Between Sets:
The last way to increase overload would be to reduce your rest between sets. Decreasing your rest time will keep your muscles pumped and engaged throughout the cycle. This mechanism will help improve your metabolism concerning anaerobic exercise.
Benefits Of Progressive Overload:
1. Gain More Strength
By overloading your muscles with resistance continuously they will adapt to the conditions and give you more strength.
2. Increase Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy means the physical growth of the muscle. According to recent research, the muscles will only grow under certain conditions that Progressive Overloading provides.
3. Faster Gains
Progressive Overload will give you faster gains when compared to an average gymmer. The rate at which your muscle contract and detract with the load of the weights highly reforms the muscles to get bigger.
4. Makes It Challenging:
Progressive Overload allows you to keep challenging yourself. Unlike the frequent plateaued workouts, this concept makes it fun as you can see how far you can go and always tests your human capabilities!
What a fun concept I'd say! You can achieve your fitness goals and have fun at the same time!
Want to try Progressive Overload too? Check out the fitness options near you: