In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of progressive overload. It is the ultimate key to reliably achieving higher levels of fitness. Once you realize that progression within your training plan is needed, the logical next step is to wonder,
“How quickly can I progress myself?”
This can be a pretty tricky question to answer. It depends on a lot of factors, but perhaps the most important factor of all is your consistency.
Have you been missing any workouts? Have all your workouts been executed at the appropriate intensity?
If the answer is yes to both of these questions, you can reasonably expect that your body can handle about a 10% progression in volume per week for about 3-4 weeks. After those 3-5 weeks, you should give your body a chance to settle into the new volume that you have progressed yourself to.
Here is what this looks like in a real life workout:
Week 1- 40 squats with 50lbs
Week 2- 44 squats with 50lbs (10% increase in total reps)
Week 3- 49 squats with 50lbs (10% increase in total reps)
Week 4- 50 squats with 50lbs (only 2% increase in total reps to settle into new volume)
Remember, this type of progression can only be expected if the workouts are consistently performed at the appropriate intensity at a reasonable frequency. Skipping workouts delays your chance to progress your workouts! We can’t expect to get better at something if we don’t practice it often enough for our bodies to adapt to it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that improving technique can speed up progress. Here is how:
Performing exercises with better technique reduces our risk of injury. Reducing risk of injury enables us to handle more volume in our training. More volume in our training leads to faster progress! This is why improving technique and progressive overload synergize so well together.
In summary, consistency allows us to utilize the power of progressive overload in our training. Improving our technique decreases our risk of injury and magnifies the power of progressive overload by allowing our bodies to handle more volume.