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Why Progressive Overload Is The Secret To Getting Results
February 27, 2023

Why Progressive Overload Is The Secret To Getting Results

Let us let you in on a little secret. The body you want, the “toned” fitness influencers you see, finally shedding the fat that’s been hanging on can all be achieved through one thing: progressive overload training.

TL;DR: Repeating the same movements in a progressive overload style will lead to the sustained progress you’re looking for. When you switch things up constantly, you are delaying your progress.

First step: breaking your cardio obsession.

We know you've been conditioned to think you need hours of cardio to achieve the body you’re dreaming of, but it's just not the case. More cardio isn’t always better. Overdoing cardio can cause inflammation, slow recovery times, and makes lean muscle retention difficult. And when you don’t have lean muscle on your body, you will never achieve the “toned” look most women are chasing.

An easy way to think about this is that cardio burns more calories while you are actually performing the workout. Strength training changes your body's composition (hint: lean muscle) so that you burn more calories all day. Thus, strength training is the most sustainable way to lose fat and keep it off.

Next step: understand what progressive overload means.

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, which is another way to say you’re ready to start progressively overloading.

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 progress 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. This is the backbone of most of Sesh’s programming because it WORKS.

Final step: accept and enjoy the repetition.

So, you’ve been told by the internet to do a different HIIT routine 3 days a week, or to take a bootcamp class that changes weekly to get to the body goals you’ve always wanted. How’s that worked for you in the past? Did you lose weight? Maybe. Did you look the way you wanted? Meh. Did you gain it back when you stopped? Most likely.

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.

The goal is to increase your weight every 2-4 weeks so you’re keeping your body challenged. With a progressive overload program like the ones we do, you never want to be comfortable with a set. That’s why you will see us repeat the same movements for weeks at a time. If you feel like you’re unable to increase your weight at a certain point, just add to the reps or time of each exercise as it will achieve a similar result. Keeping it challenging is where you’re going to see the most change in your body’s composition!

Not convinced?

Just trust us, please. For women specifically we have no idea why building muscle is so important. Not only does an increase in muscle help in sustained fat loss, but it helps retain bone density, burn more calories at rest, and it has even been shown to increase your longevity!

If all of that isn’t reason enough, we hear the same response every challenge: “Okay, but I don’t want to get bulky”. Newsflash, it is INCREDIBLY difficult for women to get bulky! Women have lower amounts of testosterone and higher amounts of estrogen and progesterone, that (combined with quite a few other reasons) is why it is so difficult for women to “bulk”. You also have to be eating in a substantial caloric surplus to develop muscle mass as a man would.

Lifting weights, progressively overloading the same movements, and following a caloric deficit is only going to help you get toned, lose fat, and sustain your progress for the long term.