Friday, April 9, 2010

Progressive Overload, Progressive Gains

You’ve heard me say many times that progressive overload with the Max-OT principles is the key to continual muscle gains but how much weight should you add and when should you add it? There’s no magical formula but there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep each workout heading in a maximum muscle building direction.

I’ve found it helpful to establish individual daily goals of bettering my numbers each workout. I try to increase the weight or get more reps (in the 4-6 rep range) with the weight I left off with the previous week. These individual workout goals give me concrete objectives to accomplish and help me assess the success of each workout.

A fairly common question I get is when to increase weights. A simple rule of thumb is when you can get six reps on your own with good form and execution it is time to increase. If you let the rep range be your guide, you’ll be in good shape. Don’t get ahead of yourself and add weight if you can’t complete 6 reps on your own.

If you are doing two or three sets of an exercise you don’t have to get six reps on all sets before you increase. When you get six reps on the first set go ahead and increase for the remaining sets. Remember, more overload equals greater muscle growth stimulation so ideally you should be at the lower end of the rep range on your latter sets.

When you increase weight I recommend moving up with the smallest increments possible. Small increases add up over time and are a more favorable approach for encouraging progressive strength gains.

You don’t have to make monumental changes each workout to ensure continual progress. Modest daily goals of bettering your numbers will keep you moving steadily forward.

Believe. Achieve.


  1. You can train other ways and achieve results but I firmly believe Max-OT training will give the best results. When I started training I followed more traditional methods that you find in magazines and I had a very good physique and won a lot of contests BUT once I started Max-OT my physique went from being very good to outstanding.

    I think there is too much overlap between strength and hypertrophy to differentiate that low reps give you strength but not hypertrophy. Phylosophically that doesn't make sense to me. I believe the best way to train to achieve maximum muscle is with the Max-OT principles.

    Don't over complicate the process. Heavy weight, basic lifts and high intensity will maximize results coupled with smart nutrition.

  2. Jeff how much lean mass would you say you were able to put on yearly using the MaxOT principles?

  3. Can't quantify it with a number but there is a very clear progression of my development after I started Max-OT.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and providing such an outstanding source of information. My question is really more about semantics and came up while introducing Max OT to a friend.

    If we are successful at progressive overload and indeed increase weight/reps on a weekly basis, couldn't one say that we are literally achieving a "personal best" every week?

  5. I suppose that would be the ultimate goal. Always striving for excellence and bettering numbers.