T Nation

Progressive Overload


Hey everyone

I’ve been a long time lurker on the forums here and just a general T-Nation follower.

A quick bit of history about myself before I get started

43yrs old
5’ 10", 185lbs w NO idea bf (15 - 20%)
I have been on TRT for roughly 3yrs now. I did stop lifting and TRT for an entire 8 months for work related reasons
I ran a small Test Cyp cycle of 300mgs/week for 10 weeks a couple years back but don’t think that is worth considering

I have been back into the gym since the beginning of the New Year and making decent progress. Strength is pathetic but Ive overcome small lifts before, lol. Currently my main goal has been to just keep my diet and workouts simple. By that I mean I decided to just dive in to both knowing either may not be perfect but just to record what I was doing and work slowly on improving as I go

My diet is 180grams protein, fat around 50grams and carbs are always changing until I find a sweet spot. I’m tracking around 300grams of carbs but that’ll be bumped up as I want to gain faster.

Having 8 months off I obviously lost strength and muscle while adding a tad bit of fat. Since being back in to the gym just over 2mos now I am very close to back to what took me 3yrs of hard work to build.

Anyways, my main focus has been to monitor my progress to make progress. At first after counting everything I ate everyday it didn’t take long to realize I was starving, lol.

For working out I am on a Push / Pull split x 4 x’s a week. Hitting each muscle twice / week
Push day I hit Quads, Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Pull day is Hams, Back, Biceps and forearm grip work
M / T - Weds is rest day - T / F - Sat / Sun rest again
Each muscle gets a core exercise that I hit 1st and use mainly gage for strength increases, the rest is more to fill volume

I shoot for about 3 - 5 working sets per exercise and 2 - 3 exercises per muscle. I get in and out of the gym in an hour

•not sure it matters but I get most my carbs earliest in the day as possible and lower that later in the day. I load 100grams of carbs before the gym, a BCAA acid for during workouts and a post shake (that has pure dextrose added to help replenish glycogen - something I read and just experimenting withd) immediately after

Where I have issues is the overload principle in theory. I shoot for 4 sets of 8 - 12 reps on my core exercise and try to hit failure on only my last set and make an increase in weight used once I hit my targets

I sat down last night and started planning out using different rep ranges for almost what could be considered periodization. I’m struggling a little planning this out. Originally I figured I could just go heavy for 3 - 5 sets of 3 - 5 reps to cover my heavy cycles and just keep the same weight and slowly work my way up to higher reps but that almost seems too slow a process. I might prefer to set a goal, hit it then drastically change the weights and rep ranges and go with that until I hit those goals

What I have been doing is working and I might be making things too confusing on myself I just think hearing from others what they are specifically doing would put some perspective on multiple ways to use overload principles

One example that can be extra confusing is volume. As long as you are not severely over training you can add volume to your workouts to effectively overload the muscles but at some point I’m sure that has to be dialled back down followed by slowly ramping that back up as you strive to hit another peak

Like I said, just curious what others do. I’m considering adding a 3rd Push / Pull day so that id be hitting every muscle 3 x’s a week. Obviously not every workout would be the same. I could focus on accessory exercises or just light flooding to the muscles



Intelligent p/p/l x2 a week is fine. I prefer full body 3x a week with conditioning days, but that is me. At 51 years old, i know what works for me.

Progressive overload is never about surpassing the required reps. If it’s 3x6-8 ( as an example), I up the weight after I get a solid 3x8 with decent rest. Wendler has a good saying about rest period. I also never do plus reps. If I can for the three sets for +8, the weight is wrong.

Volume vs frequency is also misunderstood. They are inverted, not parallel. You want to add frequency, lower volume and vice versa.

If, one day, you are feeling great, the principale of “joker set” is one to look at.

When I feel particularly good, I love drop sets to finish the day. I use it maybe once a month. Maybe.

Apart from that, I just follow an intelligent program by someone smarter then me. Partial to Waterbury these days.


Thanks for the helpful info

Yeah, some articles I read base volume on working reps spread throughout the entire week which I find slightly confusing. I understand this is mostly just a guideline but I have a hard time believing 120 reps total for big muscles like legs is enough volume for an entire week especially if you’re using mid to higher rep work

I have my plan and trying to follow it. I watch my progress closely to see if I’m not getting stronger and will consider either dumping volume or reloading more often if I feel I am not recovering

I perused other threads tonight and see you recommend Art of Waterbury to someone else. Great article that I just read and already plan to build a workout program around his methods. Seems like a great way to be able to handle heavier loads for more total reps. I find on any higher volume program like 4 - 5 sets of 8 - 20 reps I cannot maintain strength at all and even starting with a ridiculously light weight can become low rep work after only a few sets… id say that might just be me but my gym partner shows the same


He also has a full template on how to program a full body workout.