How to Progressive Overload Like a Pro!

Are you tired of seeing little to no progress in your fitness journey? Are you frustrated with hitting a plateau and not being able to break through it? If the answer is yes, then you need to incorporate progressive overload into your workout routine!

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training. The goal is to continually challenge your body so that it adapts and becomes stronger. Here are some tips on how to progressive overload like a pro.

Understanding the Basics of Progressive Overload

To progressive overload, you need to understand how your body responds to exercise. The key is to create an adaptive response to exercise. This adaptation is triggered by applying a stimulus that is greater than what the body has previously experienced.

Types of Progressive Overload

There are several different ways to implement progressive overload:

  • Increase weight
  • Increase reps
  • Increase sets
  • Decrease rest time
  • Increase time under tension
  • Change exercise variation

How to Measure Progress

To know if you are effectively progressive overloading, you should measure progress using techniques such as:

  • Tracking weights lifted
  • Tracking reps
  • Tracking sets
  • Using progress pictures
  • Testing your one-repetition maximum (1RM)

Incorporating Progressive Overload into Your Fitness Routine

Now that you understand the basics of progressive overload, it’s time to incorporate these principles into your workout routine.

Define Your Goals

You can’t plan a successful progressive overload program without understanding your goals. Your goals should dictate what kind of program you create. Are you looking to gain strength, build muscle or lose fat? Determine what you want to achieve and then create a plan to achieve it.

Start with a Baseline

Before implementing any progressive overload program, establish a baseline. Record your current strength or endurance level so you can track your progress as you increase the demands of your workout routine.

Plan Your Workouts

To progressive overload effectively, your exercise program needs to be structured. Write out your workouts, including the exercises, sets, reps, rest times, and weights. By pre-planning your workouts, you’ll ensure that you’re incorporating progressive overload in a structured way.

Progression Should be Gradual

It’s important to remember that you can’t jump from lifting 50lbs to 100lbs in one session, progressive overload should be gradual. The goal is to stimulate your body to adapt, so you need to increase the stimulus in small increments.

Increase the Weight Gradually

Use smaller increments to increase the weight that you lift. A good rule of thumb is to add 5-10% more weight each week.

Increase the Number of Reps Gradually

If you’re focusing on increasing reps, gradually increase the number sets and reps performed each week.

Incorporate Deload Weeks

Deload weeks are crucial for recovery and to prevent injury. Every four to six weeks, reduce the intensity of your exercises by decreasing the weight or performing fewer sets and reps.

Be Consistent

Consistency is the key to success. Make sure you are consistent with your training program and that you continually challenge yourself.


Progressive overload is a fundamental principle of exercise. By incorporating this principle into your workout routine, you can stimulate your body to adapt and become stronger. The key is to be patient, consistent, and gradual in your progression.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is progressive overload?
  • Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise training.

  • How do you measure progressive overload?
  • You can measure progressive overload by tracking weights lifted, reps, sets, using progress pictures, or testing your one-repetition maximum (1RM).

  • How do you incorporate progressive overload into your workout routine?
  • To incorporate progressive overload, define your goals, start with a baseline, plan your workouts, and be gradual in your progression.

  • How do you know if you’re effectively progressive overloading?
  • If you are tracking your progress and seeing an improvement in strength, endurance or muscle mass, there is a good chance that you are effectively progressive overloading.


  • Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.
  • Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.

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