Progressive Overload: What is it and why everyone should be using it.

If you find yourself going into the gym and doing a new workout every session, you’re neglecting a crucial aspect of long term progress which we call ” Progressive overload “. This is the process of planning out a training programme and increasing the training volume of an exercise each week. 

Training volume is defined as the total amount of weight (kg) lifted across all sets of a given exercise. This is calculated by multiplying the weight lifted by the number of sets and reps e.g if you squat 80kg for 3 sets of 10 reps, this would be 80x3x10 which gives us a total volume of 2400kg

We can then plan out a block of training which will typically last 3-6 weeks. Over this time the aim is to perform the same workouts each week, with the training volume of the workout increasing from week to week. On week 1, be conservative and don’t go near failure on any exercise. Going too heavy too quickly will mean that we have no room to improve over the next few weeks, meaning we cannot consistently increase training volume. Look for weekly volume increases of 2 – 6%


Examples of how we can increase volume:

Weight increases:

Week 1 – 80kg for 3 sets of 10 reps (volume = 2400kg)

Week 2 – 82kg for 3 sets of 10 reps (volume = 2460kg)

Week 3 – 84kg for 3 sets of 10 reps (volume = 2520kg)

Week 4 – 86kg for 3 sets of 10 reps (volume = 2580kg)

Week 5 – 88kg for 3 sets of 10 reps (volume = 2640kg)


Rep increases:

Week 1 – 80kg for 3 sets of 10,10,10 reps (volume = 2400kg)

Week 2 – 80kg for 3 sets of 11,11,10 reps (volume = 2560kg)

Week 3 – 80kg for 3 sets of 12,11,11 reps (volume = 2720kg)

Week 4 – 80kg for 3 sets of 12,12,12 reps (volume = 2880kg)

Week 5 – 80kg for 3 sets of 13,13,12 reps (volume = 3040kg)


Why is Progressive Overload important?

By tracking the weight lifted and incrementally increasing volume, we are placing a slightly greater demand each week on the targeted muscles, causing them to adapt and grow in strength and size. If we neglect progressive overload and perform the same weight for the same number of reps week after week, your progress will quickly come to a halt. Get into the habit of tracking your weights each session so you can see your weekly, monthly and yearly progress.


Need some guidance implementing this into your training? Get in touch today and we’ll help you out!