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What Is Progressive Overload, Anyways?
October 31, 2022

What Is Progressive Overload, Anyways?

Many think when they are new to fitness that they should switch up their workouts more often to see results, but this is actually not the case! When training, your muscles and body are constantly adapting, whether that’s to a new exercise or an increase in weight. As we build stronger muscles, weights that were once challenging become a little less heavy. This change indicates that it's time to move up to heavier weights, starting the cycle all over again. So what the heck is progressive overload?

Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. Not only will this challenge your body, but increasing your weight by no more than 10% every week can also keep your muscles from plateauing. Normally, we move up in weight once we find that it’s not challenging anymore, but with progressive overload, we are moving up in weight over a shorter period of time to increase our strength and lean muscle.

What are the Benefits?

Normally, when your body adapts to a fitness program, you up the reps, the timing, or the intensity to keep it challenging. However, the real way to keep your body guessing and avoid plateaus is to increase the resistance or weight that you’re using in a shorter period of time. By adding the additional resistance more frequently, you exert more energy and power, helping you work harder. Plus, the slight increase in resistance can help you move up in the weight you are lifting while avoiding injury at the same time.

The goal is to increase your weight every 2-4 weeks so you’re keeping your body challenged. With Progressive Overload, you never want to be comfortable with a set. If it’s too early to switch the weight, add to the reps or time of each exercise. Keeping it challenging is where you’re going to see the most change in your body’s composition and strength!

What is the Importance of Muscle Building for Women?

When it comes down to it, Progressive Overload is all about building muscle. In women, building muscle is so important. Not only does an increase in muscle help in weight loss, but it helps keep our bone density up as well. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis, so by lifting weights and increasing our muscle mass, we’re lowering our risk of developing it. Gaining muscle mass also helps to prevent heart disease and diabetes, all while enhancing your mood and reducing stress.

We hear it every challenge: “I don’t want to get bulky”. Newsflash, women don’t get bulky! Women have lower amounts of testosterone and higher amounts of estrogen and progesterone, therefore the lack thereof in testosterone is one of the main reasons that women won’t get bulky from lifting weights. You also have to be eating in a high-calorie surplus to develop muscle mass as a man would. Lifting weights is only going to help you tone, lose fat, and look more defined. It’s a win-win no matter how you look at it!

The Bottom Line

Progressive overload is a style of training that is going to challenge you while changing your body. By increasing your weight at a frequent and consistent pace, you’re going to see a reduction in body fat and an increase in lean muscle mass helping you not only feel good but keep your body strong for years to come!