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Progressive Overload

Progressive overload means carefully increasing the stress on the musculoskeletal and nervous system over a period of time.

Think about the story of Milo of Croton. The legend goes that, as a young boy he had a small calf, which he used to carry on his shoulders. As he got used to carrying the calf, his strength grew, as did the calf. Milo grew to be an incredibly strong man who would carry his, by now, huge bull on his shoulders.

That’s progressive overload! Start off lifting something that you can manage and, as your strength increases, increase the load.

For example, let’s say you can bench press 3 sets of 10 reps at 30kg, with 2 mins rest between sets, and this equates to an effort level of 8/10.

If you do this twice a week for a couple of weeks, your body will adapt and get stronger therefore 3×10 @30kg should become easier – let’s say 6/10 effort level.

If we want to get stronger and build muscle then we need to increase the demand placed upon the body. So we have several possible ways to do this.

  • Increase the weight
  • Increase the number of reps
  • Increase the number of sets
  • Decrease your rest time between sets
  • Slow down the tempo of each re
  • Improve mind-muscle connection to ensure the targeted muscle receives more stimulus.

A well designed training programme would manipulate these variables over an extended period of time so that, with consistent training and appropriate nutrition, you progress from 3×10 @30kg to 3×10 @80kg, for example.

It’s important to remember that the progression won’t be linear. You will have good days and bad days (the same principle as weight loss or weight gain) – what matters is the general trend.

Dan Sroda
Personal Trainer at Reach Personal Training
Dan Sroda is a Personal Trainer based in Birstall, serving Leeds and Bradford.

As the owner and lead trainer at Reach Personal Training, I am responsible for the philosophy of the business and overseeing client programmes.

My mission is for Reach Personal Training to be synonymous with a long-term, real-life approach to health and fitness. We help our clients to integrate health and fitness into their busy lives. We don't do fads. We don't do crash diets. We do "Fitness For Life".

I have a family. I’ve always worked (and not always in the fitness industry). I have housework and shopping to do. I have a REAL life. So I know what it takes to balance a real life with a sustainable approach to health and fitness.

If I can do it then anyone else can too. All you need is the desire to make eating healthily and keeping fit a priority in your life. An hour a day, thirty minutes a day, even fifteen minutes a day of exercise, supported with a healthy diet based on whole foods, is all it takes to make steady long-term progress towards looking and feeling fantastic.

I have a few simple values upon which I have built Reach Personal Training. Only personal trainers who share these values will be part of our team.

- Friendliness. Just be a genuinely nice person, it's dead simple and it's the best way to live. Smile as much as possible and try to see the best in every situation.

- No fads. No pseudoscience. My background in academia makes me question everything. There is so much nonsense in the fitness industry, mainly because some people are in it to make money so they'll believe anything and questioning it will mean they can't believe in the product. We are different. We do what works. We use science to create our programmes and we never put profit over effectiveness. You will NEVER find Herbalife or Forever Living in our studio!


The Reach Personal Training approach to health and fitness is no-nonsense but fun, friendly and motivating. We don’t do short-cuts or fad diets. Our FAT LOSS and BODY TONING training programmes are based on science and common-sense and they get long-lasting results.

If you hate the thought of drifting aimlessly from machine to machine around a commercial gym, with Jeremy Kyle on the TV, then get in touch today to enquire about our Private Personal Training & Group PT packages

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