Weight Loss

5 Methods to Program Progressive Overload for Shoppers with out Including Weight

The method of designing a consumer’s health program can really feel just a little like constructing with Legos.

Each brick you ultimately resolve so as to add to the mission must account on your consumer’s occupation, distinctive way of life points, present health degree, and even particular person preferences and tendencies when understanding, amongst different components.

That’s why each consumer’s “completed constructing mission” (i.e., personalized coaching plan) is exclusive.

However irrespective of how completely different a consumer could also be from the subsequent, you’d discover that there’s one constructing block you should use—no exceptions.

Are you aware what that’s?

It’s progressive overload. In different phrases, the energy and conditioning precept that states we have to improve the calls for on the neuromuscular methods over time to create and maintain physiological variations from resistance coaching. 

And opposite to widespread perception, progressive overload isn’t nearly including weights.

This text outlines 5 methods you’ll be able to maintain your shoppers progressing—with out resorting to heavier dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. 


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Have Your Shopper Carry out Extra Reps

Let’s say your consumer is deadlifting 235 kilos. Including 22 kilos to the barbell is only a 9% improve in weight—and, usually, your consumer would be capable of deal with the load.

Nevertheless, in relation to isolation workouts (e.g., bicep curls, triceps pushdowns, lateral raises), implementing the identical diploma of improve is not possible. Having your consumer go from 10- to 15-pound dumbbells on these includes a whopping 50% bounce in load.

There’s no manner your consumer would be capable of carry out the train with correct type and method. If in any respect.

So, how do you get your consumer to progressive overload on this case?

Ask them to get one other rep (or two) with the identical load. For instance, say your consumer is performing the dumbbell lateral raises with 10 kilos for 10 reps. As a substitute of handing over a heavier dumbbell the next week, get them to carry out 12 reps with the 10-pound weights.

You will know it is time to (lastly) improve the load when your consumer can carry out anyplace between 15 to twenty reps—with nothing lower than good type—on all their working units. 

Program Shorter Relaxation Intervals

Get your consumer to work more durable throughout their periods by chopping down on their inter-set relaxation durations.

This forces your consumer’s muscle groups to work “additional time,” considerably rising metabolic stress—certainly one of three key contributing components to muscle hypertrophy (the opposite two being mechanical pressure and muscle harm).

There’s an essential disclaimer right here, although.

Don’t be over-enthusiastic about decreasing your consumer’s relaxation instances. Doing so can damage their total coaching quantity—since they’d be battling a excessive degree of gathered fatigue throughout their working units—and make them concern turning up for his or her periods!

However this begs the query: Simply how a lot can you chop your consumer’s relaxation instances by?

That is determined by the kind of workouts they’re doing. Right here’s a basic guideline that will help you resolve:

  • Single-joint workouts: 2 minutes
  • Compound workouts: A minimum of 3 minutes

Usually, you’ll be able to afford to be just a little extra “beneficiant” along with your consumer’s relaxation durations on compound actions. Whereas extreme fatigue and the ensuing form-breakdown are unlikely to trigger critical accidents on the lateral raises, the identical can’t be stated for deadlifts or squats.

Change Up Your Shopper’s Train Tempo

Get your consumer to raise to a hard and fast tempo.

That is notably helpful for shoppers who like to “cheat” and bounce out of the underside positions of their lifts (e.g., squats and bench press) as a result of tempo coaching is all about shifting slowly and beneath management—which will increase time beneath pressure (TUT).

TUT refers back to the period of time a working muscle is held beneath pressure throughout an train set.

In different phrases, rising your consumer’s TUT raises the calls for you’re inserting on their muscle groups. And that’s primarily the crux of progressive overload. As soon as once more, although, don’t take this technique of progressive overload to the intense.

There’s usually no must have your consumer carry out any section of any motion for greater than 10 seconds.

Along with being an disagreeable expertise total, having your consumer decrease themselves for 12 seconds on a pull-up solely hurts their coaching quantity and reduces the effectiveness of their exercises (in the event that they’re even capable of do it within the first place).

Enhance Your Shopper’s Vary of Movement

Take note of how your consumer is performing every train. Are they struggling to hit a full vary of movement (ROM)?

If they’re, then bettering your consumer’s ROM is without doubt one of the best methods to assist your consumer progressively overload with out including weight.

For example, let’s assume your consumer can not go deep sufficient (i.e., greater than a 90-degree bend within the knees) on the leg press due to overly tight hip flexors and restricted ankle mobility.

They’re solely shifting the load, say, 40 cm on the leg press machine.

Now, think about that you just then have your consumer stretch out their hip flexors (with one thing just like the lunge stretch) and work on their ankle mobility (with one thing just like the knee-to-wall drill or weighted ankle stretch). 

What occurs? Because of improved mobility, they’re capable of—on the very least—hit a 90-degree bend of their knees on the backside place.

So, as an alternative of solely shifting the load 40 cm, they’ve now elevated the “efficient working distance” to 50 cm on the machine. And that is primarily progressive overloading: getting your consumer’s muscle groups to work more durable over time.

Additionally, generally, all of your consumer wants is a cue to make use of a full vary of movement on their actions.

For example, with an train like bicep curls, you’ll be able to say one thing like, “Be sure to decrease the dumbbells again to the beginning place earlier than beginning on one other rep.” 

Keep Coaching Quantity At the same time as Your Shopper Loses Weight

In case your consumer has been sticking to the weight reduction exercise plan you’ve created, chances are high they’ve misplaced weight. Congratulations!

Right here’s one thing value remembering concerning the course of: When your consumer loses weight, they’d inevitably lose a proportion of muscle mass together with fats—even when they’re nonetheless coaching exhausting and protecting their protein consumption excessive.

Do you know that having your consumer carry out their exercises with the identical workouts, together with units and rep ranges, now may also be thought of progressive overload?

Let’s assume that your consumer had a lean mass of 88 kilos once they began coaching with you. They have been capable of squat 220 kilos. After three months in your exercise plan, their lean mass now is available in at 77 kilos as an alternative. And guess what?

They’re nonetheless capable of squat 220 kilos for a similar variety of units and reps as earlier than.

However wait. How’s that progressive overload? It is all received to do with relativity. A easy manner to consider it will be with the “load lifted to lean mass ratio.” Let’s calculate the ratios collectively:

  •  Earlier than your consumer misplaced weight: 220/88 = 2.5
  • After your consumer misplaced weight: 220/77 = 2.86

There you may have it: As a result of there’s much less lean muscle mass to “shoulder the burden,” your consumer’s muscle groups should work more durable now!


As you’ll be able to see, there are various methods to realize progressive overload with out rising weights.

That’s why it’s so essential to undertake a holistic view of your consumer’s coaching—doing so lets you resolve on essentially the most appropriate strategy that’ll get your consumer the outcomes they’re trying to find.

Simply bear in mind this: Progressive overload (with or with out further weights) ought to solely be performed on the muse of correct lifting type and good method.

There’s little level in inserting further calls for in your consumer’s muscle groups only for the sake of it. You’d be dishonest your self, shortchanging your consumer, and, worse, placing them at elevated threat of accidents.  


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Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.

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