Everyone’s goal when working out should be to progress and advance in phases of training. Whether it is being faster or stronger, when looking to progress in a workout we have to focus on Progressive Overload. “Progressive Overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.” Some people stick to their comfort zone while working out like doing the same exercises every time with the same reps/sets/weight but unfortunately that will not get you anywhere and halt your progress. Everybody has to start at a beginner level but to progress to a more advanced level we can use Progressive Overload to get us there. All this means is you will do more work over time and exercises will keep challenging you and your physical abilities. Ways to apply Progressive Overload include:
Up the Weight
One of the most common ways to apply progressive overload is by increasing the resistance or weight. Before increasing weight in an exercise, you have to make sure you perform the exercise with perfect form and full range of motion. Focusing on increasing the weight before correcting your form can cause many serious injuries. Hiring a professional such as a Certified Personal Trainer to make sure form is done properly can be useful to avoid these.
If trying to progress your reps with the same weight , go slow and add one more rep to each set. The amount of repetitions performed usually correlate with sets and the weight or intensity. Using a lower amount of reps (1-3) per set is usually used for increasing maximum strength and power. Using a medium amount of reps per set (4-7) is for strength building and performing 8 or more reps in a set can be used for muscle hypertrophy and muscular endurance.
Another way to make progress in a workout is by changing the tempo you perform your exercise at to a faster or slower rate without ruining your form. Beginners usually start at a 4/2/1 tempo for most resistance training exercises. 4 seconds for the eccentric contraction (muscle lengthening phase), 2 seconds for the isometric hold, and 1 second for the concentric contraction (muscle shortening phase.) Playing around with these ratios can be an effective way to progress. Again, it is important to focus on form over speed to avoid injury.
A set is a group of repetitions. When progressing your sets, start by adding one set to your total number of sets while keeping the same weight and rest time. Keep in mind, when you are increasing the number of sets you are going to perform you usually change the number of reps and weight or intensity as well.
Decreasing your time resting in between sets can help keep your heart rate stay up longer but it also is hard for your body to recover which will make you reach the stage of exhaustion faster. While rest time is typically overlooked, increasing or decreasing rest can be useful while progressing an exercise. Usually rest is correlated with the intensity because the body needs a certain time to recover. While decreasing the amount of rest in between sets, keep the weight and reps the same.
When designing a workout program make sure to apply Progressive Overload so you can progress forward, continue to improve and reach your fitness goals.