Weight training is a kind of stress. When your muscles, as well as tendons, bones and internal secretion glands are exposed to the stress of resistance training, they fatigue and break down a bit. The organs and tissues subsequently recover and become stronger than before.
What is Progressive Overload?
In order to get stronger, the body has to experience conditions that are increasingly more difficult. If month after month you just go for the pump with your 3 sets of 12 at 200 pounds, guess what will happen? Your body will not change. The simplest way would be to just add more weight to the bar on your bench presses. However there are other ways to make the training conditions harder.
Ways to Progress
The simplest way to progress is to do for example 3 to 5 reps or 8 to 12 and aim at hitting one more repetition the next time you are in the gym. For instance, 200 pound for 3 reps, next workout 200 pound for 4 reps, etc. Or if you go for the hypertrophy inducing rep range – 10 reps at 200 lbs, next workout 11 reps, you get my point. Add reps.
Another way is to try to add weight to the bar or machine. Yet another way is to try to do more total reps (which means sets X reps)with the same weight. You can also try to finish the same workout in less time. These are all ways to make the conditions harder on your body.
How Often Can You Progress?
This depends mainly on how close you are to reaching your genetic potential. Beginners can and should strive to progress with each session, sometimes even daily. Intermediate trainers usually can increase the resistance once every 5 to 7 days. Advanced athletes are happy to improve once every 4-6 weeks.
Olympic/Pro level trainees strive for annual progress or even plan their ascent in 4 year cycles for the Olympic games. You should strive to progress as often as possible for your condition. Trust meyou will save months and years of frustration in the gym if you focus on progress.
Weight Loss Progress
If your main goal in fitness is to lose weight, the only way to achieve it is to have a caloric deficit. You need to expend more energy than you take in with the food. Unfortunately, with exercise alone it is very difficult to achieve this deficit. A hard workout may burn 300-500 calories, which is the size of a regular meal. It is so easy to over eat and ruin your efforts in the gym.
The simplest diet plan I’ve found is to just skip 2 of your three daily meals 1 or 2 days per week. In this way the weekly calories are reduced by 15-20 percent and you achieve caloric deficit and thus lose weight.
Continuous Muscle Gains
Another problem people face is that while a workout might give results for a few months, soon enough the gains stop. At this point many of us simply quite working out. But there is a solution. One of the best approaches I’ve found is to actually alternate the type of workouts you do every few weeks. So every 3-4 weeks you’d change the type of workout you do.
Here is an example of a great workout that uses this approach. It’s a workout called Visual Impact. The cool thing about it is that it ensures continuous progress by alternating workout phases that focus on making the muscles harder with periods focused on making the muscles bigger. A whole training period is also dedicated to making the muscles ‘pop’ by making the skin wrapped super tight around them.
Badass dude by Petar