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Ted Talk 188: The Most Powerful Way To Build Muscle: Progressive Overload

The most powerful way to build muscle: progressive overload.

But most people don’t know where to start. This is the only blueprint you need to get killer gains (in less than 30 days):

The Origin Story of Progressive Overload

The roots of progressive overload can be traced back to Milo of Croton, a legendary Greek wrestling champion from the 6th century BC.

Milo’s unique training technique involved carrying a calf on his shoulders every day. As the calf grew in size and weight, Milo’s muscles adapted and grew stronger to accommodate the increasing load.

This tale serves as an early demonstration of the principles behind progressive overload.


Understanding Progressive Overload

Progressive overload means that your training only stays effective for muscle growth if you continually increase the challenge on them.

Why? Because the reps at the end of a set are what cause the most muscle growth.

Your fitness level and muscle growth should look like this:

The reps closer to failure are called “stimulating reps.” They’re called this because they grow the most muscle.

But unless you add reps, weight, or sets over time, you’ll lose these reps as you get stronger. You’ll need to increase the challenge to change your muscles.


How To Apply the Principle of Progressive Overload

To apply the principle of progressive overload, you must:

• Increase sets

• Add more weight

• Perform more reps

As you can see in the photo from my app below, I increased reps, weight, and sets from workout to workout.

This is how you grow muscle.

The Consequences of Ignoring Progressive Overload:

If you don’t apply this principle:

• Your workouts become less effective over time

• The muscle-building stimulus will get smaller and smaller

• You’ll stop growing muscle and your physique won’t change

You must use this principle if growing more muscle is your goal.


Giving Precedence to Progressive Overload

When it comes to building muscle, progressive overload reigns supreme. It holds greater importance than:

When it comes to building muscle, progressive overload reigns supreme. It holds greater importance than the specific workout you follow, the supplements you take, the exercises you incorporate, or the equipment you use. Whether you prefer barbells or bands, push/pull/legs or 5×5, progressive overload should remain at the forefront of your fitness journey.

Apply this for every workout & watch your muscles grow.



If your goal is to build muscle effectively and witness noticeable gains, progressive overload is the answer. By consistently increasing the challenge on your muscles through more sets, added weight, and increased reps, you ensure a continuous growth stimulus.

Embrace the principles of progressive overload, apply them diligently to your workouts, and watch your muscles transform within a matter of weeks. Remember, the key to success lies in adapting Milo’s approach and gradually increasing the load on your muscles to unlock their true potential.


Links Mentioned:  

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Related Episodes:  

Ted Tak 148: How to Build Muscle After 50? – Ask Ted 

520: 5 Ways to Force Your Body To Build Muscle Faster with Ted Ryce 

526: Muscle After 40: 7 Mistakes That Are Stopping You from Building Muscle in Your 40s with Ted Ryce


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