Progressive Overload: FAQ

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Well, my dear Gymbers, today we will ask and answer several questions that we think might be useful for you if you are still wondering if you should apply progressive overload in your workout routine.

We will start with simpler questions and work up to a couple of complex ones.

So, let’s get to work!

The most common question and one that we wrote in our every article, and feel free to skip the first one if you already know it, is this:


What is progressive overload principle?

This principle involves continually increasing the demands on the body to continually make gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance.

Simply put, to get bigger and stronger, you must continually make your muscles work harder than they’re used to.


Where do you apply this principle?

The progressive overload principle doesn’t apply just to lifting weights to increase muscle growth and strength.

It can also be applied to cardiovascular-fitness programs, creating physiological changes that affect aerobic metabolism and the cardiorespiratory system, making your muscles more durable.


Is progressive overload principle of training just for beginners?


This principle of training is for EVERYONE! Young, old, beginner, experienced trainee, skinny, fat, EVERYONE!

Progressive overload will provide you with numerous ways which you will adjust to your type of body, your age, and your demands.

Beginners will experience progressive overload faster as their body and overall strength will grow rapidly in first few months but then after that period stops and they hit their first roadblock, they will need to consider some other ways for continuing their progress.

And following that comes our next question…


The weight that I use is starting to affect my form, what should I do?

As we already mentioned, this principle doesn’t apply just to add more weight. What you need to understand that you can’t put anything between your safety and well-being, not even your fitness goals for that matter.

Proper form is the essential thing that will put the muscle group that you’re training on the right amount of stress and if you start to push with your legs or bend your hips more, arch your back etc. you will expose your body to the risk of injury that might take you 10 steps back.

And you certainly don’t want that to happen, don’t you?

Bottom line?

Remain to do the proper weight that will provide you to keep the proper form and range of motion, and if that weight becomes too easy to lift there are several methods to use to overload exercises.

What methods are used to apply progressive overload training?

We consider these 5 methods as the foundation of this concept:

  1. Weight (resistance) increase
  2. Reps increase
  3. Volume increase (more sets = more reps = more resistance)
  4. Efficiency
  5. Exertion

There are even more methods that you can use in order to overload and you can find them here.


How do you apply efficiency and exertion to progressive overload principle?

Efficiency means that you overload your workout by taking less time to rest between sets or by increasing the frequency with which you train a muscle group. This second option is used most commonly when you target a lagging or weak body part.

As you already might know, the traditional approach is to train a certain body part once over the course of the training split (one week) but training it more frequently may help your weak muscle part to catch up with the rest of your muscle parts.

On the other hand, exertion means that you overload your workout by slowing down the tempo of movement when you perform the exercise.

This means that you put more resistance by controlling the weight that you lift, longer than usual (eccentric/negative part of the exercise).


What if I don’t want to build more muscles than I already have? What if I want more strength or endurance?

Well, that’s a simple one to answer.

If you want your muscles to grow you will stay in 8-12 rep range per set. That rep range is what most studies consider to be optimal for muscle hypertrophy.

If you, on the other hand, want more strength, increasing the load may be a more favorable option which will result in fewer reps per set and after some time boost your strength.

Likewise, individuals interested in increasing their muscle endurance may find that higher repetitions combined with increased reps, not load, is better suited for their activities. Also, decreasing the rest time between sets will provide you with similar results.

Just prioritize what is important to you.


Diet and progressive overload?

Simply said proper diet is 70% of your muscle building routine. Nutrition is the most important part on your way to ideal body shape. We’re not saying you should weight out every gram of food that you eat for the rest of your life, but what we’re trying to say is that you keep the track of the food you ate throughout the day.

Of course, strict diet will provide you with fastest results but if you simply don’t have time for a strict diet just pay attention to your calorie intake and you should be on right track.

Keep in mind that you need proteins if you want to build muscles so at least 0.8 up to 1g of protein per pound of body weight is optimal for your needs for now. Your main resource for reaching that protein intake will be meat (chicken, turkey, beef, fish etc.), eggs (excluding the yolk), and low-fat cheese (cottage cheese or any cheese that is below 5% fat).

On the other hand, carbs and fat (unsaturated fats) intake are what you need to limit to 20-25% of your calorie intake or keep it a bit lower than that. Your main sources of carbs will consist of oats, rice, potatoes, pasta etc., but keep in mind that every source has its own nutritive value and not all of them contain the same amount of carbs per 100g. Moving forward, your main sources of unsaturated fats will be all kinds of nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut…), egg yolks, olive oil, coconut oil, omega3 acids from fish or capsules etc.

Diet and nutrition is something that we will properly introduce to you some other time but for now, that is what you need to know about your main resources for proper diet and nutrition.



All these questions might or might not be something that you asked yourself at some point in your training process.

What you need to understand is, if you want to achieve your fitness goals there are no shortcuts to success. The road in front of you will be curvy and hard, you will hit a bump or two along the way, but the most important thing is that you keep your eyes on your goal and never look behind!

Break every obstacle that you find on your way and make your mind strong and resistant and every desire that you want will be hundred times easier to reach!

Remember, if you have any questions that you want to be answered or explained in detail in some of our next articles, feel free to post a comment below or send us an e-mail on

We will be more than happy to answer them for you.


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