Muscle Building Starts with Progressive Overload

progressive overload for muscle building

Making drastic changes to my clients and my own physique has taken a long time. It’s great to look back and reflect on how my understanding of training has changed over time. I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned about the most effective way to train (progressive overload) as a beginner and someone more advanced.

Regardless of what you been told or what study you’ve read, I think the key driver for muscle growth is progressive overload, not volume (for more information about progressive overload and how it works check out this post here). Let me explain; there was a time when I thought that if I wanted to build muscle, I just had to do a lot of stuff (volume), but over the years my focus has been centred around lifting more weight over time. I think playing sport when I was younger has definitely helped me have a clear objective of what the goal should be when it comes weight training. When we trained for basketball, training meant we were trying to improve at that sport, and progress (improved shooting percentage) was used to access if the training was effective. I take this same approach when it comes to weight training, the goal is to get better at lifting weights.

Progressive overload machomp smaller

When you embark on your training journey you are essentially looking to improve upon that current skillset. To assess the effectiveness of each training session, and to see if what you are doing is actually working, the result should be you lifting more weight over time. In my experience the people who made the most dramatic improvements to their physique had gotten substantially stronger from when they started. IMO, if your performance improves over time so will your physique – the body you aspire to have would be a more capable version than your current self. Over your training career its important to continually strive to beat previous max weight or reps at a certain weight over time, or both if possible. If this isn’t happening for you then your training program could be better.

Now back to volume because I used to be that ‘volume guy’, but now I see volume as the dose of the stimulus, which will be beneficial to a point. I have found that people who claim to need such a high dose (a lot of volume) usually aren’t training very hard. Doing a lot of sets will come at the expense of effort. This is so important because your effort needs to hard enough to disrupt homeostasis if you want to make physical and strength progressions. Implement the right recovery protocols and this will create the need for adaption (muscle growth) to occur, then rinse and repeat.

There is big difference between doing hard training and training a lot, you simply can’t do both. Being someone who loves very hard training, there is only a certain amount of volume that I can tolerate and going way over this in the past hindered my progress. It’s important to find the dose that works for you but still allows you to continue increasing the load over time. If you are new to training, I highly recommend you get the most out of doing fewer exercises. This will allow you to drive up effort through a select few movements, leading to productive training. You won’t get caught in the trap of doing copious amount of junk volume and as a bonus you will reduce your chance of injury. As you become more experienced your rate of progress will slow down, the body simply becomes better at adapting to stress (sucks I know). Then you can option to add more sets, but like I said before this should be at the expense of adding more weight to the bar over time.

There are of course other aspects which I could touch base on, but in the grand scheme of things these are the concepts I have applied to my clients and myself for the past 10 years. I really hope you got something valuable out of this article, there is so much important information out there and I’m really trying to make things easy and practical for you guys. As a coach I’m so adamant that people focus on their training performance, because making progress in your training is fun and so addictive.


If you’d like to find out more about the services I provide, simply check out my services page here, or feel free to contact me. If you want to check out some incredible results from my clients too, don’t forget to also check out our transformation gallery here, and also click on each picture to hear about each person’s amazing progress and journey with Precision Performance Coaching.

Want a free E-book?

Beginners Guide to Performance e book

Get your free copy of the Beginners Guide to Performance e-book and start your training journey today!

recent posts

Join Our Mailing List

Sign up and get your free copy of the Beginners Guide to Performance e-book to start your training journey today!

Ready to break through plateaus & get real results?

Contact us now to find out how we can help you take your training and phyique to the next level.