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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Buyer

#42: Episode 2: How to Pick a Workout and use Progressive Overload

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

Welcome back to the series Everything you need to know about fitness. You committed to working out 2 days a week for the next month. That’s great, and you’re showing up to the gym, but you’re probably wondering how best to spend your time there. Today I’ll share how to pick a workout routine, and use progressive overload to get results.

Picking a Workout

Once again, the keys to success are consistency and sustainability. You have to push yourself to see results, but if you push yourself too hard, you’ll give up or injure yourself. You need a workout that you can enjoy (or learn to enjoy), but that you’re willing to do week in and week out. The free 1st Phorm app has 8-week programs that vary based on level, equipment you have available, and time you can commit. I’ll drop a few links below as well. I encourage you to talk to me about choosing a plan that meets your specific goals.

Why it’s Important to Stick to the Plan

Stick with your plan for at least one month. If your commitment is upper body on Mondays and lower body on Thursdays, repeat the same upper and lower body workout each week. This would be called an upper/lower body split, because that’s how you splitting up your workouts throughout the week. As a beginner, keep this split for a month and then we can re-evaluate. For more experienced lifters, I recommend keeping your split for 4-8 weeks. Even when you change up the routine, your main compound lifts should stay the same.

If you’re bored, you’re not pushing hard enough. You have to do the same exercises consistently with progressive overload to see results. I used to do different workouts I found on Instagram every day. Not only did I waste time and a TON of energy searching out new workouts, I didn’t allow myself to acknowledge my progress because I didn’t do the same exercises consistently.

How to get Results: Progressive Overload Explained

What is progressive overload? For example, you bench 45 lbs for 5 reps each week and your body adapts to meet this demand. Once your body has adapted to the demand, there’s no need for it to improve, and progress becomes stagnant. You must continually challenge yourself to see results. The more you safely challenge yourself, the more you see results. Pushing yourself in this way is a skill—We will get there. So, progressive overload is gradually increasing the load (or stress) placed on your muscle so that your body responds by increasing its strength to meet demand. We can talk more in-depth about the science another time.

You can increase the load on the muscle, thereby engaging in progressive overload in one of two ways: 1. Heavier weight, or 2. Higher repetitions.

If your goal is strength, focus on increasing the weight. By gradually, I mean increasing the weight by 1-5lbs each week. If your goal is endurance, focus on increasing reps by 1-2 reps each time. Do your best with this. If your equipment only allows you to increase weight in 5lb increments, increase the weight and do as many reps as you can or do more reps with the same weight. I’ll talk more about this another time, but NOT get bulky from lifting heavy, especially as a beginner or intermediate lifter.

Quality over Quantity

As you choose a workout, keep in mind that it’s about quality of exercises and willingness to push yourself, not quantity of exercises. You can have a great leg day focusing on 4-6 exercises total rather than doing every exercise under the sun. Pick your routine and stick to it. You improve by fatiguing muscles and pushing yourself harder. If you focus on too many exercises, you won’t focus on pushing yourself and you can’t be as consistent.

Quality also means focusing on form. Lower the weight and do the exercise properly. If you’re worried about looking weak, you’ll look sillier with bad form and a cast from hurting yourself than if you have good form.


This was a huge amount of information--- so once again, please let me answer your questions and go over your workout plan with you. To recap, your today is to:

1. Pick a workout plan that matches the time and equipment you have available (you can be successful with 20 minutes and no equipment!) using the free 1st Phorm App (I highly recommend this) or one of the links below:

2. Focus on progressive overload, meaning increasing your reps or weight each week.

3. Stick to the plan for at least a month. If you’re bored, go back to step 3 😊

Next time, we’ll talk about maximizing results with good nutrition and taking care of your body.

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