What is Progressive Overload Training?

I am sure you’ve heard of the term progressive overload, or in the context of you need to be incorporating progressive overload into your training. However, many of you may not know what it actually means. Today I will be answering the question, what is progressive overload training? Without further a due, let’s find out what progressive overload means.


What is Progressive Overload?

The meaning of progressive overload is actually quite relative to it’s name, you progressively overload your lifts. In other words, you slowly make your lifts harder usually from week to week or even month to month for more experienced lifters. This is typically done by adding either weight to the bar or volume. Adding volume can be achieved by increasing reps or sets mainly, and would be a bi-product of increasing weight. This because volume is equated by multiplying your reps by sets by the weight you have lifted. The reason this is very important in your training is because you need to be progressing in your training to see results, you can’t just stay at the same spot if you want progress. Having some form of progression will force your body to adapt and become bigger and or stronger.




How Progressive Overload Relates to Your Training:

Ultimately a good training program will almost always have some form of progressive overload, how it is achieved is more relative to your goals. Let’s take the goals of hypertrophy and strength for example. If were talking about hypertrophy you would likely want to increase reps and sets (volume), this because volume is directly linked to hypertrophy. However, if your goal is strength then the focus would likely be on increasing the weight on the bar from week to week or moving a weight more easily from week to week as this will show strength gains. This isn’t to say you should be focusing on just one of these for your goal, you should be incorporating both, there is just more of an emphasis on one of them. Increasing volume will aid in increasing the weight your moving and vice versa.


How to Apply Progressive Overload:

So we have already talked about the different forms of progressive overload and how they relate to training goals. We still need to talk about the specifics such as how fast to progress and gauging results. If you are more of a beginner you will likely be able to progress faster, but you need to keep in mind building your foundation; which will decrease risk of injury and set you up for long term success. If you are more advanced you will likely need to progress at a slower rate because there is less room for improvement, however you may be able to benefit from training “more intensely” with different training techniques. As far as gauging results goes, you can see how you are progressing from week to week or month to month from a physique standpoint as well as strength progression.




Wrapping Up:

In conclusion, progressing yours lifts from week to week and or month to month in one way or another is crucial for progress. You need to be thinking about your goals and what form of progression you should be focusing on, as well as the specifics of how you should actually go about this progression. The main idea? Progressive overload is super important!

I thank you for taking the time to read this article, as always if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to leave them below. I will have another article up soon!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson


Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.



Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

4 Responses

  1. That is a great article and I have to admit I had never heard the term Progressive Overload before today.  I have to admit that when I go to the gym I am not lifting weights.  I use most of the other equipment but weights have never been my thing.

    I do however push myself to do a little more each time on the machines.  does this still qualify to be Progressive overload training?

    I look forward to your answer


    • Hi Dale, thank you! Pushing yourself more is a great way to progress, however, some way of measuring that is ideal. Such as being able to perform 1 more rep each week on the shoulder press machine, or increase the weight and perform the same amount of reps. While machines have their place, I would suggest using compound free weights exercises as the base of your training if you are able to, and make sure you are applying progressive overload to those. Just be sure to learn how to do the exercises properly. Hope that helps!

  2. Good information. Generally, I will add more weight instead of more reps or sets. I had no idea that those accomplished different things. Fortunately, as it turns out, adding more weight was a good thing for me because gaining strength was really what I was interested in accomplishing. (I’m 62 yrs old). But now I can see that it’s also important to add reps also, just not make that my primary way to advance. Thanks for the information. 

    • Thank you! Although they can both help either goals, one will be more directly beneficial/related to a specific goal. Yes, increasing sets (within reason) and reps is definitely beneficial and should be included in strength training, as you will only be able to add weight for so long.

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