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The Importance Of Progressive Overloading For Muscle Growth

When it comes to muscle building, the number of articles and videos we watch online can be confusing and overwhelming at times.

In order to grow your muscles, you will need a proper training program, adequate nutrition, and a commitment to the ongoing process!

In this article, I will share with you on how you can maximise your muscle gains by improving on your current training program to see those gains.

The Basis of Muscle Building

As most people know, to build muscles, you need to lift weights and consume sufficient protein.

As you weight train, your muscles will go through a phase called the “adaptive response”. This means that your muscular strength will increase in handling metabolites for better endurance.

Of course, lifting weights on its own is not sufficient to build muscles. You need building blocks called the “amino acids” which you get by consuming protein.

To put it simply: when you weight train, you’re telling your muscles that they need to grow. And when you’re consuming protein, you’re giving your muscles the building blocks to grow.

How Can I Maximise My Muscle Gains?

You need sufficient stimulus in order for your muscles to grow. This means that you can’t be lifting the exact same weight you’re lifting 6 months ago.

Some other ways includes:

  • Progressive overloading

  • Consuming an adequate amount of protein / carbs

  • Drink more water!

  • Getting enough rest

Your Training Routine (Part 1)

Let me elaborate on how you can progressively overload using the variables below.

  • Volume

  • Intensity

  • Effort

  • Exercise selection

  • Training frequency

  • Rest periods

  • Exercise tempo

  • Form

Volume: The number of sets x reps

You should always aim to fall between this range depending on your fitness level per muscle group.

  • Beginners: 1-5 sets per session

  • Intermediate: 2-10 sets per session

  • Advanced: 3-12 sets per session

This repetition range table serves as a guideline. This depends on whether you're training for muscle growth (Hypertrophy) or Strength.

1-5 Reps

Lower rep range should be dedicated to building continuous muscular strength

6-12 Reps

The majority of your exercise should be within this rep range

15 Reps and Above

Muscular endurance

So how many sets and reps should you do to trigger growth? And how do I know if I am doing "enough"

  • Start at the lowest number per session that gets you a decent pump and muscle soreness.

  • Add 1-2 sets per week as you get used to the work (pumps and disruptions don’t improve or decline a bit, your rep strength is still above baseline).

  • If you get to “too much” it’s best for you to rest your body or lower the number of sets.

Do take note not to overtrain your muscles. You should still have a base strength for your next session and you should not experience any overlapping soreness into your next session.


Intensity/load: Increasing the weights used

Week 1: 50kg for 12 reps

Week 2: 55kg for 12 reps


Effort: How hard you should train

A general rule of thumb: On most of your working sets, you should be pushing it close to failure. If you know you have 2-3 more reps to go, remember, the last few reps are the ones that will grow your muscles.

However, for strength training such as squats and deadlifts, it is not recommended to go to failure. As this might actually cause injury and lengthen your need for recovery.


Exercise selection:

Compound and isolation exercises

Exercises such as squats and deadlifts uses compound movements and are great if you want to increase your overall strength. It also targets a large amount of muscle mass.

Isolation exercises are great if you are focusing on smaller muscles groups such as bicep curls, lateral raises, hamstring curls etc.



The number of times you train per week for upper / lower body

I would recommend you to hit one muscle group minimum twice a week for growth. For more details on how you can split up your training, read here.


Rest Periods: Rest between each set

Try to shorten the rest periods between each set. This will ensure that the tension is still there and it allows you to do the same amount of work with lesser time.


Exercise Tempo: The time to lift each weight

Tempo refers to the number of seconds that you use to lift each weight.

For example, a squat tempo of 3-2-1 refers to:

3️⃣ You will count 3 seconds to go down while performing the squat. This is known as the eccentric or negative phase (lowering the weight).

2️⃣ You will count 2 seconds while pausing at the bottom of your squat. This would be when the weight is at its lowered position.

1️⃣ You will take 1 second to come up from a squat.



A proper form is important as it prevents muscle injury as the weight increases. With proper mechanics, the exercise will work the muscles you intended to work thus making it more focused and efficient.


Of course, there are a lot of other factors that play a part in muscle growth. Which I will cover in a separate article. Ultimately, our body will not change unless it is forced to. Implementing progressive overload increases the demand on your muscles to continuously increase muscle, endurance and strength.

Make sure you save this article and leave a comment down below if you have any more muscle growth tips to share!

Til then,


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