In the strength world, the term progressive overload simply means doing more and more over time, adapting, and growing. “Doing more” as in more volume, which can be built by more reps or more weight. This results in muscle growth and strength increases. That’s my bro definition of it at least.
I attempt to take this idea and apply it to all aspects of my life. Work, school,, projects, reading, writing, good habits, etc.
Here’s a basic formula. 5 sets of 5 reps with 100 pounds once a week. Now how do we “do more” next time? What is interesting is there is many ways to “do more”. You can do more in the most obvious terms, adding weight, but eventually that stops working and you must get creative.
Options from obvious to not so much:
- You could add 10 pounds, 5 sets of 5 reps with 110 pounds.
- You could add a rep. 5 sets of 6 reps with 100 pounds.
- You could add a set. 6 sets of 5 reps with 100 pounds.
- You could decrease your rest time in between sets. 5 sets of 5 reps with 100 pounds with 1 minute rest.
- You could change up the rep scheme. 4 sets of 8 reps at 90 pounds or 5 sets of 3 reps with 120 pounds.
Those are 5 ways to do more. Let’s say you wanted to become a better reader. You could start with 20 minutes a day. You notice it takes you 20 minutes to get 15 pages in. Next day you could try 20 pages. The following day you could do two separate sessions of 12 pages. You are changing the progression but overall reading more and more.
This simple formula is a great way to force measurable growth into almost anything you are trying to improve in. Try it out!