Progressive Overload – Extending The Set

Forced Reps, Drop Sets, Supersets, Partials, Rest-Pause and other methods of progressive overload will continue to develop. Each method has its purpose and a potential place in your workout regimen. Most of these methods are often overused and without any specific goal in mind other than trashing muscles. The thoughts of getting huge, chiseled or whatever the goal in mind ends up getting lost in overtraining your muscles. The biggest key is to have a goal in mind and set a level of progress to help achieve that goal. We will touch on these common methods within this article, but it is your duty as a reader to figure out how these methods will help you achieve your goals.

Forced Reps

These are a method of progressive overload by extending a given set by x number of reps with the assistance of a spotter. It is vital to have a spotter to perform this method of progressive overload, especially since this method is best utilized on higher intensity sets.

Drop Sets

These are another method of progressive overload and is a good tool for getting a great pump and extreme amounts of blood forced into the muscle. Drop sets are done by removing a certain percentage of weight after a set and then continuing on for another set or sets. Some research has indicated that around 25% of the weight should be removed when “dropping” the weight.


There are many ways to perform supersets and there are plenty of benefits with each method of supersetting. For this article, we will touch on same muscle supersetting. Same muscle supersetting generally involves supersetting a compound exercise with an isolation exercise. The exercise choices should involve the same muscle group.


This method involves using a partial movement and generally has a focus on the sticking point of the movement. Each person is going to be different when it comes to using this method due to the varying sticking points people have in a given exercise. A lifter can use this as they choose to make sure their strength levels continue to rise and not suffer due to a weak area in your lift. I really enjoy using this method in a specific fashion, but that is beyond the scope of this article.


This method is newer to the weight training realms based on its current uses in DC training. The rest-pause method has actually been around for quite some time, but the phrasing has evolved into what is now rest-pause. A rest-pause set is a very good method for progressive overload but can easily be overused by lifters, especially those using high volume training. The main factor when using this method is the volume involved and the amount of volume it adds to your workout. Each time you rack and unrack that bar is normally considered a set. Most people do not see this rest-pause method as a multiple set method, but as a single set method. It sounds confusing, but a normal rest-pause set involves lifting a weight for a total of 11-15 total reps. People will lift a weight for a certain number of reps, rack that weight, and rest 15-20 seconds. They will repeat this protocol another two times and that is considered one rest-pause set. In reality, that is 3 sets, and that needs to be factored into the overall volume of your workout.

The focus with each method that is used is the overall volume it adds to your workout. Each time you use a method listed above you are adding volume to your overall workout. By adding extreme volume you are placing heavy demands on your body to recover and rebuild. This sounds awesome, but it is a powerful tool that requires even more responsibility. Aim to slowly progress in your workouts and factor in the amount of volume within each successive workout. This is just one portion of the Progressive Overload principle but it is the method that is most often overused and abused. Be smart when you train and set specific goals to progress to that higher level.