Exercise How To Ensure Progress in the Gym

progress in the gym

How To Ensure Progress in the Gym

For the general population, reaching a plateau in terms of progress in the gym is a common barrier that most people find hard to overcome. There are various factors that could be limiting one’s progress and they are all equally important together.

The aim of this article is to breakdown the different key components in regard to one achieving their goal and give a brief summary of how to overcome plateaus.




Frequency is the number of resistance training sessions and the number of times a specific muscle group is trained over a given period of time (Schoenfeld, Ogborn, and Krieger, 2016).

Usually, people refer to it as to the number of times we train each muscle group per week. For instance, performing a chest session on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (which if natural is quite extreme) would mean that the frequency is 3x per week. One hypothesis says that the more frequently you train a muscle within a week, the better results in the long-term you get.  Before jumping to that conclusion, it is key to examine the mechanism behind why this may be occurring.


Protein Synthesis

Is the biological process that initiates the building of new proteins. Evidently, it is fair to say that this is an essential process when it comes to building new muscle fibers, hence increasing muscle size. Resistance training initiates this process, therefore, allowing the muscles to grow. However, it also contributes to protein breakdown. It is worth saying that we are in a consistent protein breakdown during our daily life, thereby, protein synthesis must exceed the breakdown in order to grow new muscle (Wang and Proud, 2006; Welnert, 2009).

This is where protein consumption comes along. However, the aim of this article is to focus on how to achieve progress in the gym. For more details on the nutrition topic, it is worth checking out my article regarding protein/leucine intake.


As mentioned above, resistance training will initiate protein synthesis. However, it does not last forever and the more advanced we are the less this process will be present. Having said all of this, the more frequently we train a muscle group, the more growth possibility there is, due to the more frequent initiation of protein synthesis. The meta-analysis by Schoenfeld and colleagues concluded that a 2x per week frequency was superior to 1x per week. Nevertheless, having a 3x per week frequency is yet to be determined whether it would contribute towards greater physiological adaptations.



Resistance training volume is defined as the sets per muscle group performed weekly (Schoenfeld et al., 2019).

For instance, performing two biceps exercises of 4x sets each once per week, would equal a total of 8 sets/week volume for this particular muscle. The current literature suggests that the greater the volume, the better the hypertrophic adaptations would be (Schoenfeld, Ogborn and Krieger, 2016; Schoenfeld et al., 2019). Therefore, this then leads to the hypothesis that progressive overload should be one of the priorities when it comes to one’s program structure.

Starting at 10 sets per muscle group/week may be a good starting point for one’s initial two training cycles (if fairly inexperienced), however, the aim for gradually increasing the number up in the next training cycles would be a priority. A brief example would be

Table 1.


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