Light Weight, High Rep Myth. Progressive Overload Fact.

A guest post by Dave Adams, a Boston-based writer and very tall gym enthusiast.

Light weights for countless reps can’t hold up compared to progressive overload. Before you pick up those five pound dumbbells for a set of 10,000, you should know that it might not get you very far. Sure, Ron Burgundy claims he busted out 1,000 curls, but did it really work for him? To this day, no one has signed up for the gun show.

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Some fitness trends are pushing – and pulling – the light weight, high rep myth to the ultimate limit. You thought Ron Burgundy’s 1,000 reps were a joke, right? Well, some people thought it was the real deal.

Sure, a light weight and high rep workout plan could help you achieve your lower body fat dreams. However, the results will likely not be due to your time in the gym.

Typically, these types of workout routines achieve results because of what’s happening in the kitchen. These gym schedules are usually paired with a lower carb, shred style diet plan. That’s why you’re going to see muscles start to showcase themselves. A shred diet is typically lower carb and will reduce your body fat percentage enough to highlight those beachy abs and cut up arms.

Before you start hitting any sort of shred diet plan, you need to put on the muscle. You want to be able to displaying that hard earned strength once you strip away body fat. To do that, please put the five pound dumbbells down…forever. The answer: progressive overload. Another answer: squats.

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress on the body during exercise. To make it even more clear, you should be pushing yourself harder in each successive workout. Let’s say on Monday you bench press 175 for 8 reps. Two Mondays later, you bench press 185 for 8 reps. You monster, you. You’re progressing. Assuming your form remains largely intact, you’re getting stronger. Your new base is 185. Beat that in two weeks or less and keep the upward trajectory going.

Not to say high reps and light weight won’t work for you. More importantly, you’ll want to up the up either the weight, number of sets, intensity, or a few other variables in every gym visit. Even if just by one pound, an increase is an increase. Use the progressive overload theory and you’ll notice the improvement. And that means gains.

Here are a few tips to achieve progressive overload:

1. Increase the weight

Well that’s pretty straight forward.

2. Increase your sets.

If Ron Burgundy did one set of 1,000, it would be expected that he does two sets of 1,000 next week.

3. Increase reps.

So you think your 10 pull ups were impressive? Congrats. Get 11 tomorrow.

4. Increase frequency.

Hit those muscles just as hard, but with less recovery time.

5. Increase the number of exercises.

You’ve incorporated push downs, kickbacks, and dips into your tricep workout. Now add a few diamond push ups while keeping the rest. Boom, arm growth.

6. Shorter rest periods.

Just like you always tried to do with homework, don’t procrastinate. Hit the weights again with shorter rest periods to activate gains.


Use some or all of these tips to take your body to the next level. Also check out a few other fitness myths you’ll want to avoid. And remember, Ron Burgundy’s workout plan is not effective. You stay classy, muscle friends.

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