The Aspen Hill Club Health and Wellness Blog

Progressive Overload: The Solution to All Gym Related Shortcoming

Posted on Sat, Mar 04, 2017 @ 08:03 AM

The progressive overload principle basically states: In order for a muscle to grow, gain strength, increase performance, or for any similar improvementProgressiveOverload-696x387.png to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.

Do you spend a significant amount of time in the gym without seeing the improvements you desire? Do you feel like you aren’t improving the way that you should be? You may be missing this key component to your fitness program. It isn’t a requirement that you spend all day in the gym to reach your goals. It is however, important that you strive to do more with the time you are in the gym. 

The progressive overload principle doesn’t mean go and pick up more weight every time you enter the gym. That is probably a sure fire way to end up hurting yourself. There are many variables that you can change in order to progressively overload. The Idea is to keep yourself as functional and fit as possible. So, even if you just want to “maintain” a level of fitness you will inevitably start to lose some of your functional strength, muscle mass, and mobility without applying this principle.

Any beginner to this concept should be able to improve more rapidly than a highly trained individual. This applies to all aspects of fitness and progressive overload. Improved conditioning and the response of your nervous system are a big reason for these initial improvements. 

Progressive overload is not linear and will require continued tweaks and changes as time goes on. Improvements will come in waves for particular tasks and will slow significantly after your first 3 months. Programming or planning your Progressive Overload or progression is an important part of the process. You should prioritize certain goals while maintaining others to optimize your training. Attempting to progress with too many or conflicting variables won’t get you the results you want either.   

Progressive Overload Considerations and Examples: This means doing more overtime and not just spending more time in the gym. Here are a few examples:

  • Volume (reps x sets), intensity (how much weight lifted), mobility are simple focal points of progressive overload.
  • Performing the same amount of work with less perceived effort or exertion.
  • Training density can be improved by doing more work, either with weight or reps in less time.
  • Improving your form on a given task is also part of progressive overload.
  • For beginners, you should be able to progress more rapidly than those who have been training for years and applying this principle, consider your deficiencies.
  • Improving your form and making it perfect is an important place to start for beginners. If you can’t perform a certain functional task based on joint mobility/stability then start working with your own body weight and partial range of motion- improving your mobility is a part of progressive overload.
  • The more advanced you become the more strategy is required to continue in your progress.


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Topics: fitness program, fitness, strategy, work out, gym, adapt, training density, form, progressive overload, muscle strength