Progressive Overload: Crucial Elements PART 2

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin


In the previous article, we’ve covered the basics of progressive overload principle. Today we’re going to teach you about some crucial elements which are most important for beginners but not less important for you with some gym experience.

We’re going to explain some safety keys and safety rules which can’t be neglected or overpassed, but also explain to you how to maximize your effort in order to overload muscles and growth.

This might be an exhausting topic to cover but trust us, if you neglect this you will regret it at some point down the road.

So, here’s the deal:

When you first walked into the gym with the idea in your mind that you’re going to build your ideal body or get your body in better shape and started hitting those weights you immediately found out that’s not going to be easy. Even those 10kg dumbbells or 20-30kgs on machines were some heavy ass weights for you and then you see some person or even a person that is close to your shape doing double or triple of what you do.

Some of you thought: „It’s going to take me ages to get to that weight! “ or „If that guy can do that, I can do that too!“ and then struggle to get 5 out of that 10 reps and pushed with every possible muscle in your body to get even that.

Well, to be honest, you might improve your strength and even get some muscles because you never did weight exercises and your body will soak everything in first few months. But after that, you will stop, or you will get yourself injured in some unexplainable way and maybe even quit training.

Well, you’ve come to the right place to avoid that setback.

There are 3 crucial safety components and we’re going to explain them 1 by 1:


NUMBER 1 The safety Component: PROPER FORM!

What is this?

This is the proper way to perform all of the exercises that you do in order to stimulate only that muscle or muscles that you want to stimulate. In order to properly do a certain exercise, first of all, you’ll need to control your eccentric control (negative), which means that you need to control the weight on its way down and not let the gravity do it for you.

For example:

You will see someone do bench press and literally drop the barbell on their chest and then bend the lower back in order to push that or rely on his spotter to get the weight up. Or maybe you see someone do dumbbell biceps curls and bend over from one side to another using the entire upper body to help him push that weight up.

That isn’t good form. With good form, you want to control your eccentric part for about 2 seconds or at least let it be under your control not under control of the gravity.

The second part of the proper form is to have a full range of motion (ROM).

You don’t want to do half reps, quarter reps especially if you are a beginner. You need to focus on taking the movement on a full range of motion.


NUMBER 2 Safety Component: PROPER WEIGHTS!

This part is the most important part if you are a beginner so listen carefully!

Proper weights are the weights which are not too light or too heavy for you to handle. This can be a little difficult at the start, so you will need to go through trial and error to figure out what an appropriate weight is for you.

One simple principle what you can use is so-called „2 for 2“rule.

So basically, what this means is if you can complete 2 or more reps over your assigned repetition goal in your last set for two consecutive workouts, it’s time to increase the weight. Simple as that!

Proper weights are a crucial part doing proper form and a full range of motion because when you can control the weight which you consider optimal for you, you will instantly control your form and perform a full range of motion for any exercise because you will be able to control every aspect of your exercise.


NUMBER 3 Safety Component: RECOVERY!

Recovery, especially for beginners, is one of the most important parts of the progression. Believe us or not, your body grows while you are resting!

This component is composed of a few subcomponents:

  1. Rest days

For the beginners, we recommend taking 1 day on and 1 day off. This, of course, will be individual but for example, if you do an upper/lower split you can train upper body, then rest for a day, then train lower body, rest for a day and so on.

This just ensures that your joints, ligaments, soft tissue and your muscles are recovering in between those two sessions.

This example of training will differ from person to person. If you are, let’s say, a person with a more athletic background can certainly get away with the higher intensity of training which leads us to the next subcomponent which is:

  1. Listen to your body

Your body will tell you everything that you need to know how it feels and you should listen to it. If you are feeling more sore than usual and your tendons hurt in a way that you can’t perform basic moves in full range of motion it’s maybe time to give your body some more rest or at least rest that part of your body that hurts you.

So it is very important to listen to that feedback especially feeling any pain that feels like you might have a risk of getting injured you need to consider some alternative approach and even take an extra day off to recover yourself.

Your body is your temple! So, don’t damage its foundations to achieve something because that can bounce off and hit you ten times harder!

  1. Sleep

Yes, sleep!

Sleeping is one of the most important and at the same time, it is underrated quite a lot especially by those people who are very busy. However, there is a lot of scientific literature has strongly shown that 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is significantly better for both performance and body composition.

If you are unable to hit that 7 to 8 hours mark don’t think that there is no progress coming in your way and beat yourself up. You are going to progress but as time passes by you will feel more and more tired and your body will recover slower which will create some setbacks and force you to take some extra time off.

So, the bottom line is,

If you can squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep it certainly is the way to improve your recovery and progress.

  1. Nutrition

Nutrition is a crucial aspect of your progress to reach your desired look. Proper nutrition can set you off with a blast of hypertrophy at the very beginning and then after some time constantly improve your overall looks.

There are so many aspects of nutrition for us to cover that you will start to lose yourself in it so we will cover more of that and introduce you to the proper nutrition in our next articles.

These 4 components are an important part of progressive overload training and by following them for as much as you can we guarantee that you will make a progress.

But there’s a catch to all of this.

If you really want to put all this stuff together and create an environment in which your body will grow and progress, you need to enjoy your training. You need to be consistent and you constantly need to make it interesting and enjoyable for yourself. By switching things up and changing your workout routine you will keep things interesting for yourself.

One last thing!

Before you leave, you need to understand that the effort that you put in the gym is almost the most important thing that stands in your way from the body you have VS the body you want to build.

By putting your maximum effort, you will put your muscles to the maximum amount of stress and make them build faster. By spearing your muscles from additional stress, you are preventing their hypertrophy.

How do you do that?

You do that by leaving additional reps in the tank. Scientific studies have found out that many people leave up to 10 reps in the tank per set. Up to 10 reps! That’s like a whole additional set that you just cast aside. This is not the way to overload muscles.

We’re not saying that you need to bring your muscles to failure in each set that you do. You can leave few reps in the tank per set and still stress your muscles enough. Basically, you don’t want to be leaving more than 2-4 reps in the tank per set.

So, what that means is if you are doing for example biceps curls and you do 15 reps and you can’t perform the 16th rep, that means that you have no reps left in the tank. But if you were to stop at the 12th rep, that means that you have 3 reps left in the tank.

From our perspective, you don’t need to bring your muscles to failure in all sets to reach muscle overload. Failure training should be reserved for special circumstances such as:

  • Last set

By the last set, we mean the last set of the last exercise for a given body part.

So, if you do your chest training and you do flat bench press followed by incline dumbbell fly you will leave a few reps in the tank in all your sets of flat bench press, and once you get to dumbbell fly you will leave few reps in the tank until your final set and then you would take that one to failure.

The interesting fact is that you don’t even need to bring your muscles to failure as long as you keep your reps in that circle close to failure (2-4 reps in the tank) which isn’t clearly defined but it’s around there somewhere, we think that you will push yourself sufficiently hard.

  • Isolation exercises

From all the exercises that are available may be the best time to bring your muscles to failure is on isolation exercises and machine exercises. You don’t want to push yourself to failure on hard compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses etc. because you will expose yourself more to injuries.

  • Have a spotter

Let’s say that you do hard compound exercises and you are approaching failure, in order to avoid injuries, keep the proper form of exercise and a full range of motion you should have someone spotting you and helping you reach that failure mark.

As you can see, this whole thing is chained up with the whole safety aspect of training.

Bottom line?

The whole idea of progressive overload principle and training, in general, comes up from these crucial elements that we’ve written about.

In order to keep yourself healthy and prevent injuries, we would strongly recommend following these guidelines for as much as you can and always keep them in your mind as you become stronger because if you train your mind the body will follow.

Pay attention to your form, the range of motion, select the proper weight for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask the person working at the gym to show you how to perform certain exercise and don’t be afraid to change things up from time to time.


If you really want to progress you must pay attention to everything you do right at the beginning and create healthy workout environment for your body and the body will adapt and change alongside that adaptation process.

Always keep in mind to perform your exercises properly, lift the adequate amount of weight and give your body the time to rest and always listen to your body.

Expose yourself to the maximum amount of effort or at least close to that level of effort in which you will feel your muscles burn and reach failure at some point.

And believe us when we say, that that failure will grow out to be an accomplishment that you will be proud of and which will set the new obstacle for you to crush on your way to success!




Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin