WEIGHT MANAGEMENT ∙ 2 minute read

Seize back control in the gym: progressive overload training

By Joe Young | Medically reviewed by Dr Leah Gorodi

When you’re not making progress in the gym, the challenge isn’t just physical. It takes mental strength. Perseverance. Stamina. Courage. It isn’t just hard, it’s exhausting. On some days, you’ll feel like you can’t do it. But you can.

With the right tools, this can be the last time that you lose weight. Are you up for the challenge?

If you think you've got it in you, there are ways to combat poor progress in the gym. Progressive overload training is a scientifically proven, sustainable route to real progress.

How does it work?

It’s good to have goals. With Progressive Overload Training, you are constantly working towards the next one. Choose a benchmark, work out at a challenging level, and slowly increase the intensity over time. Add more weights, fewer intervals, or completely mix up your routine - anything that pushes you to your boundaries. To grow in size, muscles have to leave their comfort zone. Once adapted, they can’t progress. 

But the clue is in the name: progressive. Have faith in your potential but be patient. You'll achieve your goals when your progress is steady but sturdy.

Weight Loss Plan.

Weight Loss Plan.

Transform your body, transform your life.

Cardio progressive overload

Add time or intensity to your cardio workout to build cardiovascular fitness and strength. Increase the length or intensity gradually. On a treadmill, challenge your body by increasing the gradient, speed, frequency, intervals, or time.

Still not sure? Try this:


  • Week 1: 10 Minutes
  • Week 2: 15 Minutes
  • Week 3: 20 Minutes


  • Week 1: 2 Intervals
  • Week 2: 4 Intervals
  • Week 3: 6 Intervals

Don't push your body past its limits. Increase the rate steadily. Walk and jog if easier. But the following week, increase the jogging time and reduce the walking time. Or start off running 1-2 times a week then increase to 3-4 times. Conquer the technique with other cardiovascular exercises like cycling, swimming, or dancing.

Strength training progressive overload

If you’re more of a lifter than a runner, the logic is the same. For weight training, progressive overload is achieved by increasing weights, sets, or time. Gradually placing more and more stress on the muscles causes them to break down, rebuild, strengthen, and grow. 

For example: 

Weight training

  • Week 1: 7 kg
  • Week 2: 9 kg
  • Week 3: 11 kg

Don't push your muscles beyond their limits. Be sure to adapt higher or lower based on your ability to reduce injury. Increase weights gradually. Your body will adapt. Your muscles will strengthen. Weightlifting isn't the only source of strength training. You can also build muscle by using your body weight.

The numan take

Push yourself. To get stronger, fitter, and faster, you have to put in the work. The challenge is hard. But the payoff is big.