Progressive Overload and Body Building

progressive overload

What is Progressive Overload?

A frequent question for people who are new to bodybuilding is: what is progressive overload? It is a perfectly natural question when you think about it because this term is used regularly among most people who lift weights.

This brief post will offer a basic definition of progressive overload and help to bring clarity to an approach to body building that is often misunderstood and frequently misused.

Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!




Progressive Overload Principle

Two important constructs exist that I want to introduce you to. One is progressive training and the other is progressive overload. According to the principle of progressive overload as mentioned by a Chicago therapy and wellness consultant, systematically increasing the demands on the body is an important aspect of muscular development and growth.

For example, when engaging in a strength training program, in order to gain strength, the muscles need to be overloaded – which basically means they must be loaded beyond the point which they are accustomed to.

progressive overload

Progressive Resistance Training

Progressive resistance training is a 25-cent term that implies that as the muscles become stronger, either increased resistance or increased repetitions are necessary (really required) in order to stimulate greater strength gains.

Progressive Overload Example

An example of the progressive overload principle in action would be as follow. Imagine a young man who can perform only around 10 reps of a bench press before he gets to a place of feeling completely wiped out. Let’s say he is lifting 110 LBS in total at this point.

With a week or two of consistent resistance training, he should be able to increase his reps to around 14-15 with the same weight. Now let’s imagine that he adds another 5 LBS to the universal bar and decreases his reps to 8 or even 10.

Progressive Overload Body Building
Progressive Overloading Explained

As he continues to engage in strength training, the reps continue to increase; and within another week or two (maybe three) he is ready to add another 5 LBS to the bar.

His improvement will largely depend on a progressive increase in the amount of weight lifted and of course, consistency at the gym. If he adds aerobic training to the mix, his intensity and duration at the gym will increase through the magic of endurance.

progressive overload principle

Summing Things Up

According to the principle of progressive overload, as the body adapts to a given training program at a given volume and intensity, the stress placed on the body must also increase for the training to be effective.

The key take-away you should think about is that word progressive. In other words, you add weights to your workout routine incrementally. Too many newbies to the gym and even some body builder veterans try to rush muscular development by overloading the weight bar.

That’s not progressive overloading folks – that’s just an injury waiting to happen.

I hope you found the material presented here on progressive overload helpful. Thanks for visiting Guy Counseling! Please Like us on Facebook and share on other social media platforms.




About John D. Moore 103 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a counselor and educator. He writes about people, places and things as a pathway to knowledge. Moore coaches, teaches and helps workplaces to do the people part better. Click on: BIO to learn more. Be sure to follow Guy Counseling on Facebook