Progressive overload is a core concept in strength training, and in practice is the main driver for strength gains over the long term. So what is it? I have read some complicated descriptions of Progressive Overload, and they can be helpful as you make your way through your lifting life, but at the moment I want to give you a quick and very basic understanding of the concept so you can see how it applies to your training now. Progressive overload has two main components:
1. Overload: You need to train hard enough that you force your body to adapt. For some people this is not a problem, if anything they have the opposite problem and go too heavy too often. This is as detrimental as not training hard enough. Sticking to the 60-80% range will generally mean you are lifting heavy enough to adapt, but not so heavy that you increase injury risk or can’t recover.
2. Progression: Over time, your training must get harder. That means more sets, more reps, more weight, or a combination. It doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) get harder every single day, week, or month necessarily. But if you look at your training over the long term and even break it into blocks, you should be doing PROGRESSIVELY more over time from block to block.
For a beginner lifter, overload is pretty easy to achieve because so much of what you are doing is new, or at least unfamiliar. This is good! It means you have lots of ways to stimulate your body and make it adapt and grow. You will very likely be progressively adding more weight for a while when you first start lifting, because you will be getting stronger almost week to week. When you stop being able to do this, understanding Progressive Overload becomes even more important because it will need to be built into your training. Luckily, all good programs have this principle in mind, including our programs at Kizentraining.com. We also recommend checking out our Beginner Program - Free Preview, its a great place to start if you're new to the gym.
Nigel, Kizen Coach
Who is Nigel?
Nigel is a coach who has been competing in powerlifting since 2012 and started directing meets in 2017. Nigel began working as a personal trainer in 2013, was a part of the Ascendant Athletics team with Omar and Silent Mike from 2015-2016, and has managed the group coaching for Kizen Training since 2017. Through this work and coaching private clients, Nigel has worked with many lifters of all skill levels and from diverse athletic backgrounds. His best lifts in competition are a 661lb/300kg squat in sleeves, a 451lb/205kg bench, and a 639lb/295kg deadlift.