the blog

welcome to 


December 22, 2022

How To Best Implement Progressive Overload

How To Best Implement Progressive Overload with Annie Miller

People (enter trainers, coaches, physical therapists, body builders, and strongmen) toss the term “progressive overload” about in the absence of context for the larger audience. I believe progressive overload can be seen in lights:

  1. Something we program specifically – increasing/changing programming factors in order to add new stress to a system or muscles.
  2. Something that happens because of our program design and execution of said programming.

One view is the pre-planned process. While the other is outcome. I can see the logic in both. Take whichever you like. Because the focus either way is the same – more stress via different training factors.

Hope this graphic helps. Let me know below:

A question I get asked often by coaches and trainees is “what do I change first for progressive overload? – up the weight? Increase reps? Slow down tempo? Add a set? etc” This is an incredibly fair question and one that has the same answer as most things in health and fitness – it depends.

What’s most important is the logic behind the decision. The examples shown in the graphic above are based on hypertrophy – muscle growth. That’s the stimulus we are attempting to program for in order to receive the adaptation of increase muscle cell size. Make sense?

I see nothing wrong with playing a bit of back and forth with volume and load. Increase reps first (to drive up your capacity for work), then increase load for the same amount of reps. When that RPE (rate of perceived exertion) drops at the given load and reps, increase reps completed or add another set – drive up volume. Then load.

After load and reps have both been increased, we can play with other factors like tempo. Slowing the tempo down simply gives us more time under tension by nature. And mechanical tension is the main driving force of hypertrophy.

I hope you can see where there is no black and white rule to how you can best use and/or make progressive overload happen. The main desire and need is to push the body to the point that the wanted adaptation takes place.

Choose ONE factor at a time to increase/change. That’s the “best way” if there is one. Happy lifting.

If you’d like to learn more about program design for strength, yes, and hypertrophy training over long term periodization, check out Pure PROgramming.

If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist. 

Join my mailing list for weekly blog and podcast updates. You may or may not get VIP discounts as well. Just saying. Join the fam!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

Hey you,

The name's Annie & you're reading my thoughts. Let's get acquainted. 

the whole story >







creep the categories

Mobility, workouts, methodologies.

Tools so you can do hard things.

Behind the scenes. Keepin' it real.

Photo diaries + travel guides

Tips & tricks for entrepreneurs

Weekly actionable takeaways

looking for something specific? find it here




brands I love

working against gravity

Fre skin care


blue light blockers

klassy network

code: fdba saves you 15% off


save $50

code: ANNIE saves you 20% off

You love my style, trust my reviews, and want more Annie Miller Concepts vibes in your life? Shop my favorite brands. You get awesome products and yours truly gets a little kick-back.


code annie

free flexy gains

3 Day Mobility + Core

free download

free biz gains

Ideal Client Avatar Creator

free download

level up

for free

how about you

view all free resources

tell me more

let's do more

These aren't your "normal" emails.

get the weekly wisdom or daily dose

You will hear from us shortly :)