I had a request to post my progressive overload program. So here it is: Twenty’s Progressive Overload. Clear link at the bottom if you’re paranoid. Zoho Sheets is a Google partner, so this should be fine.
This spreadsheet is based on a generic template of a four week stretch of a progressive overload system. Everything is customizable. You can change the exercises, the percent of your max that you’re working at each week, your rep range for each exercise, each week: everything. This system is based on Brzycki’s calculation for one rep maximum based on the number of reps you do at a lower weight. I could theoretically do it with any of the calculations, and if somebody has a compelling reason, please let me know.
Fortunately and unfortunately, I made it accessible by anyone with the link. So yes, you guys can go in there and change the exercise to say fuck shit and the rep range to a million to confuse anybody who hops in there. Please don’t.
How to use it? Orange cells are manipulable and any input will modify the rest of the numbers accordingly.
Decide on which exercises you want to improve utilizing progressive overload. I chose squat, bench, deadlift, pulldown. If you want to do more than 4 exercises, you’ll have to do them 4 at a time and print/screengrab each. If you want to do less, just leave one or more blank.
Put in your starting single rep max for these exercises. Don’t know them? Use the handy dandy 1RM calculator based on recent workouts. Still not sure? Shoot low, stick with the program for 4 weeks, and then use the 1RM calculator at the end to determine where you should be.
Enter the rep range or rep ranges you want to work in. Are you trying to get heavier with your bench? Do double or triples some weeks. Are you better off with 5s for squats? Put in 5s. Do you want to get different types of muscle fiber recruited throughout the program? Vary rep range from 2-10. 10 seems to be the max number of reps that this can effectively handle.
Note: Advanced users: mess with the multiplier if you know how you like to periodize. I based mine off of common well reviewed programs. See Tab 2, where I manipulated my generic program to exactly fit Wendler’s 5/3/1 as a proof of concept. Any progressive overload program follows the basic principles upon which my program is built.
Let’s get started! Now you have 4 weeks of progressive overload planned for whichever exercises you chose. These exercises should be planned for different days ideally, but there’s no huge issue with combining two into a workout. After warming up, do your first set. Stick to the number of prescribed reps. Do your second set, again don’t get carried away and make sure to stick to the numbers. The 3rd and final set is an AMRAP set. Put that weight on the bar and do as many reps as you can til your muscles give out on you. AMRAP stands for ‘as many reps as possible.’ Now go do some assistance work or cardio according to your preferred methods.
If you hit the minimum reps for an exercise all four weeks, up your 1RM by 10 pounds for that exercise and do it again. This is what makes it progressive overload. The weights get heavier month after month and you get stronger month after month. Plain and simple.
- This is great way to easily remain accountable in the gym. There are guys who go into the gym and give 100% all the time and don’t get any stronger just because they aren’t increasing their work load or intensity.
- If you can only make it into the gym for 25-30 minutes, this will give you a specific goal and will cause you to continue to make progress regardless of how the gym is prioritized in your life at the given time.
- For the Wendler 5/3/1 proof of concept, week 1 is actually the deload. If you use that as your template, start on week 2.
- The section below ‘starting maxes’ shows what your projected 1RM is on the basis of how far you surpassed the goal set on week 4. It DOES NOT mean that should be your starting max for the next round. Only if you failed to reach your goal reps should you recalculate. Otherwise, add 10 pounds and continue.
- If you work in kilograms, that’s fine this translates perfectly well. Add 4-5kg after a successful 4 week round.
- Drawbacks: The weights get really skewed outside of the 10 rep range. Also clearly this isn’t a comprehensive training program. It’s probably not appropriate for many exercises such as db curls or bar hangs or calves or shrugs
PLEASE let me know if I didn’t explain anything clearly or if you have suggestions on how to improve the spreadsheet.