Progressive Overload

There are countless articles out there that give you free training programs to do over a period of a week to even months.  They give youa prescribed list of exercises that include the reps and sets of each.  This is great if you’re a beginner (1 year of weight training).  However, if you’re advanced, do you really think this is optimal?  Where does progression fit into all of this?  Not to mention these programs aren’t individualized.


Again, this is great if you’re a beginner because you are given exactly what exercises to perform, and how many sets and reps you should do. Also, as a beginner, it is much easier to continually get stronger as opposed to someone who has been lifting for several years.  If you can’t add weight on to the bar in that program, the progressive overload is coming from where exactly? It isn’t. Your progress will not be as optimal.


There are many ways that we can go about adding overload to a program, all of which call for a more involved training template. Here are a few ideas to help you add progressive overload.


  • Add a set or two onto primary exercises in weeks 2 and 4 of a program.
  • Increase the percentages of your one rep max every couple weeks and take a deload* every 6th week.

*back off to about 50% of your 1RM for a week to give your CNS a break and focus on form.

  • Adjust reps with each week based on your goals. For example, 1-6 reps for strength, 6-12 for hypertrophy etc.


Here are a few tips to help you customize your own training program and a simple way to apply progressive overall to your training program.


For more information talk to one of our Living Well staff for help with program design and visit

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