What is Progressive Resistance Training?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 29 January 2020
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Progressive resistance training (PRT) is a specialized kind of weight training that helps to improve body response and capacity. All kinds of athletes and recreational fitness participants practice this type of training to get stronger and to help the body to handle larger challenges. Among methods of weight training, PRT is popular for helping individuals to burn calories; strengthen muscles, bones, and joints; and otherwise improve their overall health and fitness.

Resistance is the amount of challenge that the body handles during a given task. In PRT, that resistance is raised incrementally to help the body adapt to challenges. This kind of weight training can be done with free weights, variable weight machines, or other tools.

The idea behind this form of training is partially about allowing muscle groups to “max out,” or experience an “overload” situation, which is why it is sometimes called overload weight training. These kinds of challenges promote specific kinds of muscle development.

There are many methods for progressive resistance training, but the most popular one is to do “progressive sets.” In this kind of training, users start with a low weight, do several repetitions, and then add more weight to their machine or use a higher free weight to repeat the same activity. Other methods include doing more repetitions of an activity, waiting less time between activities, or otherwise upping the ante in challenges for the body’s muscle groups.


Part of the distinction of PRT is in looking at what’s needed for this kind of exercise. For most individuals, getting it into their routine requires joining a gym or health club because the specific tools that are needed for this kind of strength training are expensive, and most individuals find it more economical to use them collectively with a public gym membership, rather than buy them for their own private use.

For progressive resistance training, it’s necessary to have a variety of weight loads for a given activity. This means either a large array of dumbbells or barbells, or full-size gym machines with adaptable plate loaded weights. With some exceptions, like a simple pressing bench with barbell plates, most of this kind of equipment is found in gyms. Gym members can also get specific information from dedicated personal trainers in order to make sure that they are pursuing their PRT in a correct way to avoid muscle injury or other kinds of injury.


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Post 1

I am a big believer in progressive resistance training. I worked out for years according to other methods and my body didn't change at all. Once I switched to a progressive system I broke through the plateau and saw changes that I never thought would be possible.

With this kind of training it is pretty integral to have a partner. Part of this is safety. If you are going until you can't go anymore you will need someone spotting you that can pick up a bench bar when you can't

The other part of this is drive. It is really hard to push yourself to failure. The body will naturally resist this. If you have a partner pushing you to do one more rep or five more pounds it can really help you to lift longer and harder.

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