Progressive overload is the way we get out of our plateaus.
So what is it? The way to use progressive overload is by increasing the demand on your body with the same exercises you are already doing. This may mean doing more reps, adding more resistance, adding more weight or shortening up your rest time between exercises. You are progressively overloading your body by putting stress on it. You will know when your body is ready, when you are not sore the following days after your workouts.
Here are some ways to effectively use this method in your fitness plan.
- Add more reps or sets– Whether you are doing body weight exercises such as pushups or sit ups or using weights for squats or curls, adding reps will change your body. For instance, If you are doing 3 reps of 8 curls with 10 pound weights, bump up your rep count to 10 for the first 2 sets. You can also stick with 8 reps but add in one more set for 4 total sets.
- Add more weight- If you are doing a weight training program you can bump up that weight. If you are doing squats with 40 pounds and you are not sore the following few days it is time to bump up that weight. For instance, if you are doing 4 sets of 10 reps, a Add 10 pounds to your first 2 sets. Eventually you can add that 10 pounds to all sets.
- Add more resistance– Resistance training with bands is a popular for of working out. To increase the resistance you can either use a thicker band. If you do not have access to a thicker band you can always tie a knot in the band you are using. For instance, if you have your band secured to an object and are doing standing rows for your upper back, you can shorten that band but still attempt to pull it just as far out as before. If you are doing 4 sets of rows try to do 3 sets with the shorter resistance band.
- Shorten rest times- Progressive overload also refers to endurance which can be improved by shortening rest times. This can be done with any exercise, including strength training and cardio. For instance, if you are running sprints, you can reduce the rest time between them. For instance, if you run 1 mile with 30 second sprints and a 1 minute recovery jog, try to shorten the recovery to 45 seconds. Do this for a while until it does not feel as challenging. Then shorten the active rest time to 30 seconds.
Overall, listen to your body. It will tell you when it is ready for progressive overload. As you use this method, you will get stronger and fitter each time you work out!