Creating a Progressive Overload Workout Plan At Home

Creating a home workout plan can be challenging enough as it is, especially if you have limited equipment. Adding onto that, trying to apply the principle of progressive overload when you don’t have the simplicity of just adding weight onto the movement. This article will help you both understand the principle of progressive overload while also giving you a practical example of how progressive overload can be used in at home training plans.

7 min read
Sean's profile
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
24/10/22
Last updated
31/10/22
In This Resource
  • What Is Progressive Overload
  • Manipulating Variables At Home
  • Defining Key Terms
  • Volume (frequency + sets + reps)
  • Intensity
  • Using The Progressive Overload Principle For A Home Workout Plan
  • Sample Beginner At Home Training Plan (with Progressive Overload)
  • Sample Advanced At Home Training Plan (with Progressive Overload)
  • Session 1 Week 1
  • Session 1 Week 2
  • Session 1 Week 3
  • The Principle Over The Plan
  • Common Questions
  • Which Exercises Should I Use For My Progressive Overload Workout Plan?
  • Which Weight Should I Buy For My Home Training Set Up?
  • Is Progressive Overload Training Effective?

What Is Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the training principle that consists of increasing the physiological stress placed on the body over time to create a physical adaptation. This principle is used in all different types of physiological training to create effective adaptation, you should be using it in your training to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time, including if you’re creating an at home workout plan.

Manipulating Variables At Home

Progressive overload is the manipulation of training variables to increase the amount of stress placed upon the body. To understand which training variable we can manipulate, we will first review these training variables and then look in more detail about how they are manipulated in two examples of at home training plans.

Defining Key Terms

Volume (frequency + sets + reps)

Volume is the amount of working sets completed, this can be framed as in a workout, in a week or in a training cycle. A simple way to think about it is the amount of work done in a movement pattern within a time frame. As most studies indicate the most important volume landmark time frame is the total amount of sets done in a week.

Intensity

Intensity is the difficulty of a set or repetition. It’s the difference between a warm up set and a working set and it can be manipulated in many ways including exercise selection, weight manipulation or tempo manipulation.

These are important terms to understand because they are the toggles in which we can turn to use progressive overload for all movements including at home workouts.

Using The Progressive Overload Principle For A Home Workout Plan

Progressive overload is going to be very important when executing a home workout plan. It can be the difference between stagnation and progression, making it a crucial component of someone trying to achieve their goals. It is created through manipulating the variables we discussed above. If your relatively new to training this may seem a little abstract and difficult to understand how it’s done in practice, so I am going to give you two examples of progressive overload being used with different avatars.

Sample Beginner At Home Training Plan (with Progressive Overload)

In this example our beginner is going to be a 25 year old female who used to play soccer at university but since entering the professional world has been unable to find a way to stay active but doesn’t feel comfortable joining a gym. She has done some strength and conditioning in college but only to a point where her technique was proficient. Her major goal is to be able to perform a press up.

We are going to look at how progressive overload would be used through exercise selection to show a visual progression of the press up over time. Each month within the at home training plan we are going to pick one exercise to build strength in the press up movement pattern, these exercises will get progressively more difficult, therefore we will be applying progressive overload.

Here we can see that by using exercise selection over time we have created long term progressive overload for a beginner who is now nearly able to perform a press up.

Sample Advanced At Home Training Plan (with Progressive Overload)

In the advanced example, we are going to look at a 35 year old male who trained regularly at the gym, but because of his new work situation, he has lost a lot of his good habits due to travel. He needs to stay fit and healthy while often only having access to his bodyweight and a band. His main goal is to maintain strength and muscle mass using full body workouts.

Using progressive overload with this individual will entail creating a full body workout programme that can be done with just bodyweight and band then progressing the workout overtime through a training cycle. Here is an example of one session and how it would be progressed throughout a 3 week cycle.

Session 1 Week 1

A1) Skater Squat

  • 3 x 3/3
  • A2) Archer Press Up

  • 3 x 4/4
  • B1) Banded Prone Presses

  • 3 x 10
  • B2) Half Kneeling Banded Pull

  • 3 x 8/8
  • B3) Straight Arm Side Plank

  • 3 x 15/15
  • Session 1 Week 2

    A1) Skater Squat

  • 4 x 4/4
  • A2) Archer Press Up

  • 4 x 5/5
  • B1) Banded Prone Presses

  • 4 x 10
  • B2) Half Kneeling Banded Pull

  • 4 x 8/8
  • B3) Straight Arm Side Plank

  • 4 x 15/15
  • Session 1 Week 3

    A1) Skater Squat

  • 4 x 5/5
  • A2) Archer Press Up

  • 4 x 6/6
  • B1) Banded Prone Presses

  • 4 x 12
  • B2) Half Kneeling Banded Pull

  • 4 x 10/10
  • B3) Straight Arm Side Plank

  • 4 x 20/20”
  • This is a clear example of how both volume and intensity are manipulated throughout a cycle. In the real world, this would be based on feedback and life activity, training rarely happens in a vacuum. What’s so great about plans like these, are they can be matched onto rather chaotic lives that require a lot of travel. This could be done in 30-45’ after waking and will allow you to target all the key movement patterns.

    The Principle Over The Plan

    The actual at home training plan you use or create isn’t very important, in the sense that after a few weeks you’ll either need to write or find a new one. What is important is that you understand the principle of progressive overload and how it can be utilised in your training. Once you understand how to correctly use this principle of training you can start to build long term consistency and ensure you see great results.

    Common Questions

    Which Exercises Should I Use For My Progressive Overload Workout Plan?

    You need to make sure that you use exercises for your ability from a variety of movement categories. When building workout routines, it’s important to target every movement category that the body can perform. It’s also important to get plenty of rest between sessions.

    Which Weight Should I Buy For My Home Training Set Up?

    You need to ensure you buy weights that can have an overloading effect on the body for multiple movement categories. For example you might buy one heavy kettlebell to overload the squat and hinge movements and one lighter one for the upper body movement. Mixing this will allow you to be increasing volume overtime throughout the training routine. Workouts at home can be difficult without any weights so buying some form of equipment can be a great way to keep you motivated.

    Is Progressive Overload Training Effective?

    A progressive overload workout plan is on of the most effective ways to progress. These programs allow us to create very in depth sessions that can create an overload effect on the body.

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