12 Week Progressive Overload Strength Training Program (W/PDF)

Whether you want to scale your strength and record a new personal record (PR) or put on muscles and build aesthetic physique, progressive overload is an excellent way to achieve your fitness goal.

The progressive overload primarily means increasing the load (weight on the bar) over time.1Plotkin D, Coleman M, Van Every D, et al. Progressive overload without progressing load? The effects of load or repetition progression on muscular adaptationsPeerJ. 2022;10:e14142. Published 2022 Sep 30. doi:10.7717/peerj.14142

It is an excellent way to increase your strength and help you achieve new PR.

It also helps promote hypertrophy and builds sizable and muscular physique.

However, it requires proper guidance and training to progressively level up your strength.

That’s why I’ve created a 12 week progressive overload training program for those who want to break their 1RM and set a new one.

If you want to safely, strategically, and effectively increase your strength, you can check out this program.

How Much Weight Should You Increase Every Week?

When it comes to maximizing strength, a question comes to mind, how much weigh should I increase every week?

Well, you can increase load anywhere from 1-2% to reach new level every week. Suppose, if you’re lifting 100 kg (220 lbs) currently, then you should aim for 101-102 kg in the next week. You can set your target accordingly.

For example, if you progressively increase the load 1-2% every week, your target will be something like this at the end of 12 weeks:

ExerciseCurrent Strength (Kg)Target
Bench Press50, 75, 10064, 97, 121
Deadlift100, 125, 150130, 152, 182
Squat75, 100, 12597, 122, 152
Weight compounded weekly at 1-2 percent

Below you can see some major lifts that can help you maximize your strength.

The Major Exercises for Increasing Strength

You can do any resistance exercises for increasing muscle mass (hypertrophy) but when it comes to strength training, you must focus on powerlifting exercises, such as Big Three – the deadlift, bench press, and the squat.

Other than these, you can also do some accessories lifts, such as military press, leg press, hack squats, and off blocks to build up your strength.

Here’s the overview of all exercises:

The Big LiftsAccessories Exercises
Bench PressPin Press, Spoto Press, Overhead Press, DB Press, Weight Pushup, Hammer Press, Close Grip Bench Press, Landmine Press
SquatGlute-Ham Raise, Goblet Squat, Lunges, Step-up, Paused Squat, Farmer’s Walk
DeadliftGood Morning, Hyperextension, KB Swing, Deficit Deadlift, Off Blocks, RDL, Hip Thrust

You can also perform mobility exercises (dynamic stretching) before lifting weights to open up joints and get your muscles ready to perform lifting workouts.

Here are some examples of mobility exercises:

Strength ExerciseDynamic mobility exercises
Bench PressFoam rolling, cat-cow stretches, hip extensions, and thoracic spine extension
Squat90/90 hip stretch, banded hip distractions, foam roller, and lateral lunge
DeadliftBanded hip distraction, lateral lunges, 90/90 hip stretches, and any external rotation stretch

12-Week P.O.S.T Program Description

Program Duration12 Weeks
Frequency3 days a week
GoalIncrease Strength
Targeted GenderMale and Female
Suitable forIntermediate and Beginner
Additional Equipment NeededLifting belt, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, and knee wraps. 
Alternate Plan12 Week Powerlifting Training

12 Week Progressive Overload Strength Training Program

12 Week Progressive Overload Strength Training Program Summary

Schedule

  • Monday – Bench Press
  • Tuesday – Recovery
  • Wednesday – Deadlift
  • Thursday – Recovery
  • Friday – Recovery
  • Saturday – Squat
  • Sunday – Recovery

The training will start with moderate rep ranges and as you go further it will be challenging.

 It’s good to warm up for at least five to ten minutes before lifting heavy weights to increase your performance, activate muscles, and minimize the risk of injuries. To get a good warm-up, you can check out this step-by-step warm guide published by Avi Silverberg on his site Powerliftingtechqinue.com.

Week 1-2

Monday – Bench Press

SetRepsIntensityRest
11250% of your 1RM2-min
2860% of your 1RM2-min
3670 % of your 1RM3-min
4580% of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM3-min

Accessory Lifts:

  1. Overhead Press: 10-12 reps x 3
  2. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 12-14 reps x 3

Wednesday – Deadlift

SetRepsIntensityRest
11050% of your 1RM2-min
2860% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4675% of your 1RM4-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory Lifts:

  1. Good Morning: 10-12 reps x 3
  2. Hyperextension: 12-14 reps x 3

Saturday – Squat

SetRepsIntensityRest
11250% of your 1RM2-min
2860% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4675% of your 1RM4-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory Lifts:

  1. Lunges: 10-12 reps x 3
  2. Step-up: 12-14 reps x 3

Week 3-5

Monday – Bench Press

SetRepsIntensityRest
11050% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670 % of your 1RM3-min
4580% of your 1RM4-min
5485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory Lifts:

Wednesday – Deadlift

SetRepsIntensityRest
1850% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670 % of your 1RM3-min
4580% of your 1RM4-min
5485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory exercises:

  • Hyperextension: 12-15 reps x 3
  • KB Swing: 12-15 reps x 3

Saturday – Squat

SetRepsIntensityRest
11050% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670 % of your 1RM3-min
4580% of your 1RM4-min
5485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory exercises:

  • Paused Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • Weighted Farmer’s Walk: 30-sec walk, five times

Week 6-8

Monday – Bench Press

SetRepsIntensityRest
11520-30% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5580% of your 1RM4-min
6485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory exercises:

  • Overhead Press: 3 sets of 12 reps each
  • Spoto Press: 3 sets of 15 reps each

Wednesday – Deadlift

SetRepsIntensityRest
11520-30% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5580% of your 1RM4-min
6485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory exercises:

  • Off Blocks: 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • Hip Thrust: 12-15 reps x 3

Saturday – Squat

SetRepsIntensityRest
11520-30% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5580% of your 1RM4-min
6485% of your 1RM4-min

Accessory exercises:

Week 9-10

Monday – Bench Press

SetRepsIntensityRest
11530% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3570% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
71100% of your 1RM5-min

Take five minutes of rest and perform the following accessories exercises:

  • Overhead Press: 10-12 reps x 3
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 12-14 reps x 3

Wednesday – Deadlift

SetRepsIntensityRest
1830% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3570% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
71100% of your 1RM5-min

Accessory exercises:

Saturday – Squat

SetRepsIntensityRest
11030% of your 1RM2-min
2660% of your 1RM2-min
3570% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
71100% of your 1RM5-min

Accessory exercises:

  • Glute-Ham Raise: 3 sets of 12 reps each
  • Step up: 3 sets of 10 reps each

Week 11-12

Monday – Bench Press

SetRepsIntensityRest
11530% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
7295% of your 1RM5-min
81100% of your 1RM

Accessory Lifts:

  • Pin Press: 12-15 reps x 3
  • Close Grip Bench Press: 12-15 reps x 3

Wednesday – Deadlift

SetRepsIntensityRest
1830% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
7295% of your 1RM5-min
81100% of your 1RM

Accessory exercises:

  1. Good Morning: 10-12 reps x 3
  2. Hyperextension: 12-14 reps x 3

Saturday – Squat

SetRepsIntensityRest
11030% of your 1RM2-min
3670% of your 1RM3-min
4575 % of your 1RM3-min
5480% of your 1RM4-min
6390% of your 1RM4-min
7295% of your 1RM5-min
81100% of your 1RM

Accessory exercises:

  • Paused Squat: 3 sets of 10 reps each
  • Weighted Farmer’s Walk: 30-sec walk, five times

Download The PDF

The Bottom Line

The best way to maximize your strength is progressive overload. The progressive overload is a way of increasing the load gradually over the period of time.

You can increase the load anywhere from 1-2% every week to reach a new record.

However, it requires a workout program to achieve your goal strategically.

You can follow the above workout program to see if it works for you, which I hope will work.

Following this program may not ensure you’ll achieve what it promises but by repeating the same movements over and over, you’ll be able to lift more weight over time.

Please note: I always suggest taking guidance of a professional when it comes power lifting. Because it is one of the challenging workout programs and has high risk of injuries.

References

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.