New Research Reveals The BEST Progressive Overload Method

Progressive overload.

You have in all probability heard of this matter being preached on TikTok and different social media websites as the easiest way to maximise muscle development. However what precisely is it? To maintain issues easy, progressive overload includes regularly growing muscle stress over time to trigger development and diversifications.

The 2 most typical methods to advertise progressive overload are to extend the load lifted or the variety of repetitions carried out. Just lately, a brand new examine in contrast these widespread strategies.

I consider it’s value it to dissect this paper and focus on different potential coaching methods you would possibly use to raise your physique and energy. And whether or not we must always think about growing units or coaching frequency to progressively overload the muscle tissue.

Desk of Contents

  • The Analysis Breakdown
  • Educated Particular person Analysis
  • Totally different Methods However The Similar Beneficial properties?
  • Is It Higher To Enhance Frequency or Units?
  • Can You See Power Beneficial properties?
  • Outro

The Analysis Breakdown

A brand new paper within the Worldwide Journal of Sports activities Drugs in contrast the results of progressive overload on muscle energy in 39 beforehand untrained people in resistance coaching by evaluating the affect of growing load versus growing repetitions.¹ Whereas this may occasionally not apply to most of you studying this, don’t be concerned; I will even add analysis primarily based on skilled people.

The topics have been skilled by doing 4 units of unilateral leg extensions 2 to three instances per week for ten weeks with one leg. They adjusted the burden hundreds to constantly attain failure in each set of 9 to 12-rep ranges. The opposite leg was skilled in a different way.

In addition they carried out reps to failure every set, however as an alternative, they caught with the identical weight from the primary session. So, to achieve failure, they have been progressively overloaded by growing reps as an alternative.

By the tip of the ten-week examine, topics progressed from a median of 9 reps per set to fifteen reps. To maintain the checks honest, the variety of dominant legs was divided between the circumstances, and topics alternated which leg was skilled first in each session.

In contrast to some research I’ve learn, this analysis’s check topics have been subjected to the identical circumstances, with every leg being skilled in a different way. Due to this, genetics, diet, and outdoors way of life variations are much less more likely to muddle the examine outcomes.

Power positive aspects on the leg extension have been comparable between each circumstances. Muscle hypertrophy, indicated by the vastest lateralis development, was additionally comparable between the circumstances. This means that growing reps was as efficient for muscle development as growing the burden load.

Determine 1: Chaves TS, et al. (2024)

Educated Particular person Analysis

Whereas the people within the new examine have been untrained, an older examine from 2022 used 43 people with no less than one 12 months of constant decrease physique resistance coaching expertise

Topics carried out 4 units of 4 actions (again squat, leg extension, straight-leg calf increase, and seated calf increase) twice weekly. One group aimed to enhance the load whereas holding repetitions fixed, and the opposite group aimed to enhance repetitions whereas holding the load fixed.

The examine assessed one repetition most (1RM) within the Smith machine squat, muscular endurance within the leg extension, countermovement leap peak, and muscle thickness alongside the quadriceps and calf muscle tissue. The outcomes have been just like these of the untrained group in that each sorts of development coaching have been viable methods.

Determine 2: Plotkin D, et al. (2022)

I did discover it fascinating that the outcomes additionally confirmed that rectus femoris development modestly favored rep coaching, whereas dynamic energy barely elevated with load coaching. General, the information signifies that growing load or reps will be comparable for constructing muscle in untrained and skilled individuals.

I might say that this analysis doubles down on proving that a number of completely different coaching methods can be found so that you can maximize muscle development and likewise opens up some questions as to which one you need to think about as a part of your coaching routine.

Totally different Methods However The Similar Beneficial properties?

This half won’t be as a lot about utilizing progressive overload throughout coaching classes; as an alternative, it’ll break down the a number of completely different coaching methods you can use in a coaching session.

If you happen to have been to make use of a rep vary just like many of those analysis articles, sometimes within the 8-15 rep vary, this might open up a number of coaching paths so that you can progressively overload your muscle tissue.

The commonest pathway is to make use of the identical weight throughout units after which practice to failure inside a rep vary. Whereas this can be a unbelievable possibility and may undoubtedly aid you obtain your objectives, there are different choices I feel you must also think about, similar to growing the load throughout units, leading to fewer reps.

A examine from the European Journal of Utilized Physiology in contrast people who had one leg skilled extra historically.³ On the identical time, the opposite leg was subjected to both crescent pyramid or drop set coaching.

Determine 3: Angleri V, et al. (2017)

Regardless of each legs performing completely different types, they achieved comparable leads to muscle development, muscle hypertrophy, and energy. One other various I’d advocate that you just take a look at, as damaged down in a 2022 paper, is to lower the load throughout units.⁴

All topics skilled curls to voluntary failure with these variables. On the primary set of every train, all topics used a weight they might solely do for a most of ten reps.

The management group saved the identical load on all of the units, the second group decreased the load by 5% on the ultimate two units of every train, and the ultimate group decreased the load by 10% on the ultimate two units.

When examined, all teams noticed comparable will increase in muscle thickness and enhancements of their 10-rep most. What I discovered to be probably the most thrilling a part of this analysis was that the group that decreased the load by 10%, regardless of additionally coaching to failure and seeing comparable enhancements, rated their coaching classes subjectively as being barely simpler.

The principle takeaway is that many various pathways to muscle hypertrophy exist, and so long as you might be prepared to stay to 1 lengthy sufficient, you possibly can see vital outcomes.

Is It Higher To Enhance Units or Frequency?

Progressive overload merely means coaching exhausting to stimulate diversifications persistently. Nonetheless, merely growing units or coaching frequency will not essentially assist to attain this.

For instance, say you carry out 4 units of squats throughout your exercise; the following exercise with squats, you resolve so as to add one other set.

To illustrate you had sufficient muscle stimulation within the first session with out the extra set. In that case, you’ll most certainly go simpler on the sooner units to “save your self” to your final set, thus making them much less efficient.

The one factor that the additional set that you just added is doing is growing the work that you just’re doing, making it more durable to keep up ample stress all through each set. This identical precept applies in the event you resolve to attempt growing exercise frequency.

To illustrate you carry out the identical exercise we mentioned above; if all you do is add one other coaching session in every week, assuming ample diversifications have been stimulated from the primary session, all these units will lead to much less muscle fiber recruitment and total stress.

So, all this further session does is create extra work, not outcomes. Ultimately, in the event you attempt including too many further units or coaching classes, you may begin to run into points with restoration. 

This doesn’t suggest that it’s set in stone that you need to by no means enhance units or coaching frequency. In one other 2024 examine, outcomes indicated that including 4 or six units per week each two weeks elicited better lower-limb energy in resistance-trained people over a 12-week coaching interval in comparison with performing the identical variety of units weekly.⁵

This journal is not definitive proof that you must add units throughout weeks since all teams progressively overloaded by growing the load on their units all through this system. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to experiment with this coaching type and see if it will be just right for you.

It’s completely okay to do the identical variety of units and use the identical coaching frequency each week; it’s regular and fairly widespread. I’d advocate that you just often add modifications each couple of months.

If you would like additional programming info to maximise your positive aspects, I extremely advocate you take a look at our SFS Hypertrophy Coaching Program under.

hypertrophy program

Put together to maximise your positive aspects with our unique 12-week hypertrophy coaching program. Select between a 4 or 5 day coaching break up and acquire 2-12 kilos of muscle over 90 days…

Can You See Power Beneficial properties Utilizing Progressive Overload?

Let’s circle again to the brand new analysis paper and the paper concerning the skilled people. We will see that the energy positive aspects have been comparable between growing the resistance and the rep rely regardless of having completely different talent ranges.

Nonetheless, when most individuals consider energy, myself included, they give thought to the most quantity of weight you possibly can carry. Based mostly on my expertise, that is greatest achieved with decrease rep ranges and better hundreds.

On this examine within the Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis, researchers examined people pre- and post-study for one repetition most (RM) energy within the bench press and squat, higher physique muscle endurance, and muscle thickness of the elbow flexors, elbow extensors, and lateral thigh. Over the course of eight weeks, each teams carried out three units of seven workouts for the foremost muscle tissue within the higher and decrease physique.⁶

One group adjusted hundreds to maintain coaching to failure within the two—to four-rep vary, whereas a second group adjusted hundreds to maintain coaching to failure within the 8—to 12-rep vary. The conclusion confirmed that bench press and again squat energy positive aspects favored coaching with two to 4 reps.

Determine 4: Schoenfeld, Brad J., et al. (2015)

From this, we will deduce that strength-related diversifications will be maximized by coaching nearer to your one rep max.


Exhausting coaching produces diversifications that assist us enhance the weights we use and the reps we do. Whereas utilizing one method is greater than ample for producing outcomes, I feel there are just a few the explanation why you need to think about using a combination of each to attain higher outcomes over the long run.

By diversifying our coaching strategies, we will stimulate our muscle tissue from varied angles, cut back the chance of plateaus, and enhance the prospect of balanced growth. For instance, increased reps and exercise frequency can profit muscle density and measurement, whereas decrease reps are higher for energy positive aspects. 

A combined method additionally retains issues recent and fascinating. When you have any questions concerning the new progressive overload coaching analysis, please be happy to go away a remark under. If you happen to really feel like I missed one thing, be happy so as to add it to the feedback under!


  1. Chaves TS, Scarpelli MC, Bergamasco JGA, Silva DGD, Medalha Junior RA, Dias NF, Bittencourt D, Carello Filho PC, Angleri V, Nóbrega SR, Roberts MD, Ugrinowitsch C, Libardi CA. Results of Resistance Coaching Overload Development Protocols on Power and Muscle Mass. Int J Sports activities Med. 2024 Mar 12. doi: 10.1055/a-2256-5857. Epub forward of print. PMID: 38286426.
  2. Plotkin D, Coleman M, Van Each D, Maldonado J, Oberlin D, Israetel M, Feather J, Alto A, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ. Progressive overload with out progressing load? The results of load or repetition development on muscular diversifications. PeerJ. 2022 Sep 30;10:e14142. doi: 10.7717/peerj.14142. PMID: 36199287; PMCID: PMC9528903.
  3. Angleri V, Ugrinowitsch C, Libardi CA. Crescent pyramid and drop-set techniques don’t promote better energy positive aspects, muscle hypertrophy, and modifications on muscle structure in contrast with conventional resistance coaching in well-trained males. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Feb;117(2):359-369. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3529-1. Epub 2017 Jan 27. PMID: 28130627.
  4. Lima BM, Amancio RS, Gonçalves DS, Koch AJ, Curty VM, Machado M. Deliberate Load Discount Versus Mounted Load: A Technique to Scale back the Notion of Effort With Related Enhancements in Hypertrophy and Power. Int J Sports activities Physiol Carry out. 2018 Oct 1;13(9):1164-1168. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2018-0072. Epub 2018 Oct 22. PMID: 29584518.
  5. Enes A, DE Souza EO, Souza-Junior TP. Results of Totally different Weekly Set Progressions on Muscular Diversifications in Educated Males: Is There a Dose-Response Impact? Med Sci Sports activities Exerc. 2024 Mar 1;56(3):553-563. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000003317. Epub 2023 Oct 5. PMID: 37796222.
  6. Schoenfeld, Brad J., et al. “Results of Low- vs. Excessive-Load Resistance Coaching on Muscle Power and Hypertrophy in Properly-Educated Males.” Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis, vol. 29, no. 10, Oct. 2015, pp. 2954–2963,,

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