Another *small* Rant on Progressive Overload

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Last week, I wrote a post discussing (albeit briefly) the whole concept of progressive overload. As it were, I did so because one of the questions that I hear most often in the gym is:

How much weight should I use?

I’m not gonna lie; every time I hear that question, it’s like someone’s taking their finger nails and scraping them down a chalk board, Freddy Krueger style.

Of course, I’m more than willing help. Happy do so in fact. And, to be fair, I’m not immune to asking mundane questions myself. I’m sure my girlfriend feels much the same way, and wants to bang her head against the wall every time I ask her “which one is Carrie and which one is Samantha again? **

Still, for some reason, I have a hard time comprehending why it’s so hard for people to grasp the concept of progressive overload. I would think, for simplicity sake, the obvious answer would be to look on your sheet from the previous week. How much weight did you use? Add a little more.

Admittedly, it’s not always so cut and dry – which is why I wrote the blog post (linked above). 90% of the time, for 90% of the people reading this, however, what I described will work swimmingly (and yes, I just used the word swimmingly). That being said, I think what perplexes most is the whole notion that you don’t have to use straight weight all the time. Put another way, if you’re walking into the gym with a goal – which, coincidentally, is always a great idea to do – of using 225 lbs with your squats that day, you don’t necessarily have to use the same weight throughout. I totally just rocked your world didn’t I?

To reiterate, I don’t want you missing lifts. I truly feel that one of the greatest mistakes many trainees make is missing lifts on a consistent basis. Conversely, I don’t want you (and forgive the scientific terminology here) to be a pussy either. If, on any given day, you get to “work set” # 3, and the weight is flying up – there’s no golden rule saying you can’t bump the weight up 5-10 lbs and continue on from there.

So it may look something like this:

Week 1: Squats 4×5 (goal is to use 225 on all work sets)

Set #1: 225×5

Set #2: 225×5 – weight feels really easy.

Set #3: 235×5 – harder, but still able to get all reps fairly easily.

Set #4: 240×4

The following week, the goal may be to have all work sets at 235 lbs, with the possibility of hitting all reps of 240 on that last set. While having a goal in mind (and sticking with it) is definitely never a bad thing, don’t be caught up with so-called “rules.” It’s okay to bump the weight up – or down – based on how you feel that particular day.

In any case, I know that was a bit random, but I just wanted to share a little more insight on ways to look at progressive overload.

** For the record, I don’t really watch that show. I was just saying that as, you know, a joke. LOL. No, but seriously, I HEARD THAT AIDAN IS MAKING A CAMEO APPEARANCE IN THE SEQUEL THIS SUMMER. MR. BIG IS SUCH AN A-HOLE. IF AIDAN AND CARRIE GET BACK TOGETHER I WILL JUST DIE *pees pants*

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