This post is written by my good friend and FFP coach, Nick Smoot. Make sure to check out his bio at the bottom of the page. Take it away, Nick....
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
That’s one of my favorite quotes.
Because no matter what your goal is – whether it’s to get jacked, shredded, or simply fit better in a pair of jeans – your results are dependent upon your ability to continually push your body past its comfort zone.
Not just every once in awhile, but every time you train (at least, that should be the goal).
And three of my favorite ways of doing so are down below.
But First, One Quick Note on Progressive Overload.
In simple terms, progressive overload is the idea that you must progressively do more work over time in order to make progress.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
If you aren’t constantly doing more work than your body can handle, it has no reason to adapt – and get bigger, stronger, faster, etc. – to better handle more work the next time around, correct?
Now, the way you induce overload is by increasing your total training volume.
Volume is calculated by multiplying sets x reps x weight, and the easiest way to look at it is in relation to a single exercise.
For example, if you squatted 225lbs for 5 sets of 10 reps, that’d be 11,250lbs of total volume (for that one exercise).
If the following week you squatted 235lbs for 5 sets of 10 reps, that’d be 11,750lbs of total volume.
Why am I telling you this?
Because in order to make progress, your volume – or total workload – on each exercise must go up over time, and each form of progression detailed in this article is designed to help you do just that.
You don’t have to sit down with pen and paper and calculate your volume every time you train (I don’t), but you should always be striving to do more work than you did the time before.
If you do, you’ll make a lot of progress.
If you don’t, you’ll just spin your wheels.
Alright, So What Are the Forms of Progression?
1. Add weight.
2. Add reps.
3. Add sets.
In most cases, your main focus should be on adding weight to the bar.
Doing so is the best way to induce overload, and it’s the only way to build crazy high levels of strength (you don’t get stronger lifting light weights).
If you can’t add weight to the bar – which you won’t be able to do every training session…it just doesn’t work that way – your focus should shift to adding sets or adding reps (with the weight you used the time before).
Doing so is another great way to create overload, and therefore another great way to make progress.
Either way – no matter which form of progression you use – make sure you progress slowly.
As cliché as it sounds, strength training “is a marathon, not a sprint.”
You want to make steady progress over time.
Not rapid progress now followed by little to no progress later (because you’ve run yourself in to the ground).
All In All, Just Be Better Every Day
These aren’t the only ways to make progress, but they are the most important, and the ones that give you the most bang for your training buck.
Every time you step foot in the gym, aim to be better than you were the day before.
This won’t always be possible.
Strength gain and muscle growth don’t happen in a linear fashion.
But as long as you aim for it – as long as you aim to add weight, add reps, or add sets each training session – you’ll make amazing progress.
Nick Smoot is a strength coach and nutrition consultant out of Newport News, VA. He got his start in the fitness industry back in 2012, and since then he’s spent countless hours helping clients become the best versions of themselves possible. In his free time, he enjoys lifting heavy things, eating, writing, traveling, nerding out on movies and video games, and eating.