How Do I Overload My Muscles? (8 Ways to Progressive Overload)

There are all sorts of ways for you to achieve progressive overload.

Here are eight strategies for increasing work and overloading your muscles:

#1) Increase the weight. This is the most common way to make a weighted exercise in the gym more challenging. We’ll talk a bit later about how to choose the correct weight.

#2) Increase the reps. This is the other most common way to make things more challenging. So instead of 10 push-ups, go for 11. Then 12 the next time. And so on.

#3) Increase the sets. So instead of doing 3 sets of 10 push-ups, you can do 4 sets of 10 push-ups, then 5 sets of 10 push-ups, etc.

#4) Increase the frequency of your workouts. Let’s say you work out twice a week, Monday and Thursday. Maybe we add an extra day, so Monday-Wednesday-Friday. That way we get more total work in for the week.

#5) Decrease rest time. Instead of increasing the weight, or reps, or sets – you simply decrease the time you rest between sets. This will tax your body more and might be a good option for some, based on their goals and schedule (especially if you are short on workout time already).

#6) Doing more difficult variations. This is relevant for body weight exercises in particular, where we’re not adding weight to anything.

#7) Slow down through the range of motion. Play around with the exercise tempo! If you take a longer time to do a push-up, you’ll increase the time your muscles are under tension and working.

#8) Hold the position. Just like slowing down, this will increase the time under tension for the muscles, and therefore more work. You could pause at the bottom of your squat: