What Is Progressive Overload, and What it Means For Your Exercise Program

Today Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, Edgecliff, Marrickville, Bella VistaRandwickLindfield and Balmain today talk about progressive overload training and why this is important for training.

What is progressive overload training?

Increasing the intensity of an exercise, gradually, to elicit an increase in muscular strength

This is just a technical term for increasing the intensity of an exercise, gradually, to elicit an increase in muscular strength. We usually refer to progressive overload training in regards to resistance, or strength training. However, the principle of it can be used in relation to any kind of training such as cardiovascular training as well.

So what are some of the principles of progressive overload in relation to strength training?

  • Increasing intensity – this just means lifting a heavier weight in your next session
  • Increasing volume – performing more sets or repetitions of the exercise
  • Increasing frequency – performing more training sessions each week
  • Changing tension in the muscle through ‘concentric’ and ‘eccentric’ phases – in every exercise there is a concentric (shortening phase) and eccentric (lengthening phase) which just means how the muscle shortens and lengthens throughout the exercise. Typically, eccentric phases are harder and cause more ‘micro-tears’ to the muscle which results in greater damage to the muscles, thus causing the body to repair and ultimately lead to greater strength gains over time.

These principles are important and provide a great way to continue to see improvements. However, if you change all of these factors at once – it might be a recipe for disaster. It is best to only change one thing at a time, and usually we would increase the volume (increasing repetitions and sets), before increasing the weight substantially. This in turn will ensure you remain injury free, as you have given your muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints time to adapt to the new load.

It is beneficial to perform a variety of exercises to lead to greater strength improvements, and seeing an Exercise Physiologist is a great way to ensure you achieve this. In a tailored exercise program, you will ensure you safely increase the difficulty to ensure you keep improving. Otherwise, performing the same exercises at the same level of difficulty will cause your improvements to plateau, and it is much harder to continue to see improvements. An Exercise Physiologist will ensure you are achieving the right variety of exercises without it becoming boring, but achieve enough consistency to allow improvements to happen.

If you have been stuck doing the same exercises and want some variety or be shown how to increase the intensity of your program – contact us today!

Contact Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.


Written by Susannah Mah-Chut

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