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

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

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

That’s why each shopper’s “completed constructing challenge” (i.e., custom-made coaching plan) is exclusive.

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

Are you aware what that’s?

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

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

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


Download the Personal Trainer Career Guide

Have Your Consumer Carry out Extra Reps

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

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

There’s no manner your shopper would be capable of carry out the train with correct kind and approach. If in any respect.

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

Ask them to get one other rep (or two) with the identical load. For instance, say your shopper is performing the dumbbell lateral raises with 10 kilos for 10 reps. As an alternative 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) enhance the load when your shopper can carry out anyplace between 15 to twenty reps—with nothing lower than good kind—on all their working units. 

Program Shorter Relaxation Durations

Get your shopper to work tougher throughout their classes by reducing down on their inter-set relaxation durations.

This forces your shopper’s muscle tissue to work “extra time,” considerably rising metabolic stress—one among three key contributing components to muscle hypertrophy (the opposite two being mechanical pressure and muscle harm).

There’s an vital disclaimer right here, although.

Don’t be over-enthusiastic about decreasing your shopper’s relaxation occasions. Doing so can harm their general coaching quantity—since they’d be combating a excessive stage of gathered fatigue throughout their working units—and make them concern turning up for his or her classes!

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

That relies on 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: At the very least 3 minutes

Normally, you’ll be able to afford to be just a little extra “beneficiant” together with your shopper’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 Consumer’s Train Tempo

Get your shopper to elevate to a hard and fast tempo.

That is significantly 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 below management—which will increase time below pressure (TUT).

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

In different phrases, rising your shopper’s TUT raises the calls for you’re putting on their muscle tissue. And that’s basically 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 shopper carry out any section of any motion for greater than 10 seconds.

Along with being an disagreeable expertise general, having your shopper 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 Consumer’s Vary of Movement

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

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

For example, let’s assume your shopper 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 shopper 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? Due to 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 basically progressive overloading: getting your shopper’s muscle tissue to work tougher over time.

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

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

Preserve Coaching Quantity Whilst Your Consumer Loses Weight

In case your shopper has been sticking to the weight reduction exercise plan you’ve created, likelihood is they’ve misplaced weight. Congratulations!

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

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

Let’s assume that your shopper had a lean mass of 88 kilos after they began coaching with you. They had 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 obtained to do with relativity. A easy manner to consider it could be with the “load lifted to lean mass ratio.” Let’s calculate the ratios collectively:

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

There you have got it: As a result of there’s much less lean muscle mass to “shoulder the burden,” your shopper’s muscle tissue must work tougher now!


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

That’s why it’s so vital to undertake a holistic view of your shopper’s coaching—doing so lets you resolve on probably the most appropriate strategy that’ll get your shopper 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 kind and good approach.

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


New Call-to-action


We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Enable registration in settings - general
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart