We all want to get better. It’s why we train. Progress is one of our most powerful motivators. It’s engrained in our cultural fiber. We are a country of improvers:

  • Columbus wanted a better route to the East Indies. Boom. America.   
  • Jefferson wanted a better relationship between taxation and representation. Boom. Independence.
  • Arnold wanted better front delt development. Boom. The Arnold Press.

We get better. It’s what we do. Turning this lens towards our health and fitness, the question is simple: what is the fastest, most effective plan for us to get strong, shredded, sexy, and healthy?

Let’s get that question answered, shall we? But first, a story:

The Legend of Milo of Croton

Milo was an Ancient Greek wrestler with super-human strength (Grandpa?) Legend has it that one day, a calf was born near Milo’s home. Milo decided to pick up this calf baby and carry it on his shoulders. Everyday Milo would return to the calf baby and carry it around. But here’s the thing about calf babies – they grow. So as the calf grew, Milo got stronger. One day at a time. One week at a time. One year at a time. Eventually, Milo was carrying a bull.    

milo(A photo from Milo’s Instagram account.)

True story.

It’s a legend that is famous amongst strength coaches for the obvious moral singificance: humble beginnings + small, seemingly unnoticeable progression = legendary results. 

Stress the body too little and it will wither. Stress the body too much and it will break. But stress the body just right and it will improve. Isn’t that beautiful? We are adaptation machines, just add the perfect amount of stress. We call this The Law of Progress Overload. But this isn’t ‘Nam, there are rules:

The 5 Rules of Progressive Overload

1. Progressive Overload starts, ends, and is always comprised of perfect form.

Don’t load dysfunction.
– Gray Cook

If we can’t move excellently, why make exercise harder? 

Step 1) Move excellently
Step 2) Move frequently
Step 3) Move intensely

Just like Milo, baby.

2. Progressive Overload comes in many shapes and sizes.

The Law of Progressive Overload isn’t just about weight (what we commonly refer to as intensity). It can also be about range of motion, volume, distance, speed, work, density, relative load, or frequency. “There are many ways to skin a tiger,” as they say. *Don’t skin tigers.

Each progression brings with it a corresponding training goal:  

  • If you don’t have a full range of motion in your squat, I highly recommend that to be your first progression. Who wants to be strong in a partial range of motion? (unless, of course, that is your sport.)
  • If you’re interested in running a marathon, progressive distance training should be a part of the plan.
  • If you’re interested in getting stronger, progressive intensity training (adding more weight) would be a beautiful thing.  
  • If you’re interested in getting strong, shredded, and sexy, you should be playing with a few different variables including intensity, density, volume, and frequency of training. 

3. Progressive Overload gets harder and harder to accomplish (see also: The Law of Diminishing Returns).

The closer we get to our genetic potential, the harder it is to make gains. That’s why newbies get to make more progress in the gym than anybody else, those lucky ducks. The more progress we make, the more variables we must manipulate in order to continue to make progress. This is the science and art of program design – adjusting acute training variables in order to make progress, ad infinitum. 

4. Progressive Overload Will Never Happen In a Linear Fashion

It’s simply not how the human body adapts. While we have some helpful guidelines – we can add 2.5% to upper body lifts and 5% to lower body lifts per week – these are only guidelines. The body is a fluid ecosystem. We should be more concerned with trend lines than single data points. It’s why I hate when clients want to weigh themselves every day. It’s like measuring a trip to the moon in millimeters. You’re making life too complicated.

5. Progressive Overload Requires a Plan

Milo’s plan was simple: find calf baby. Pick up calf baby. Carry calf baby. Return tomorrow.

But we’ve come along way in our understanding of human physiological development since 540 BC. Modern programing needs to take into consideration The Law of Progressive Overload. It needs to be divided into meso-phases that manipulate acute training variables towards a specific goal. It needs to be entertaining enough to keep us interested, aggressive enough to keep us challenged, and analytical enough to keep us smartered. That’s right. Smartered. Because it’s also helpful if it’s fun…who the hell wants to be bored? Not an easy task.

Which brings us full circle to our original question: What is the fastest, most effective plan for us to get strong, shredded, sexy, and healthy?

I’m glad you asked. Cause I’ve spend the last year working on it. It’s easily the coolest thing I’ve ever created.





LIKE THIS POST? Join the #BandanaArmy. We'll teach you how to fight tigers*.

* Do not fight any tigers, ever.

  • Taylor Spivey

    Sup Rob, I feel like this article is a MUST read for anyone who has either a.) never made consistent progress like they’ve wanted, or b.) someone who doesn’t understand planning. It feels cool to throw all sorts of moves to a program here and there but one thing I’ve learned recently is that simple movements phased in and out in periodic fashion helps you blow up fast. Thanks for da knowledge bombz. #BandanaArmy #SVW

    • BandanaTraining

      Amen. And well said, Taylor.

  • Rob Llano

    Bought. Done. Having had experience with your programming, I’m pretty excited

    • BandanaTraining

      Bam. Excited for you to drop kick #SVW in the throat. Lemme know how it goes, Rob.

  • David Nicholas Salzl

    #BandanaArmy #SVW Once again a stellar creation that has me excited to be in the gym reaching new heights.

    • BandanaTraining

      Mission accomplished. Thanks for the kind words @davidnicholassalzl:disqus

  • Dane

    Already on day 3 of #SVW and I’m loving it! I just need a good altar-villain ego… Juggernaut’s already taken though…. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Hell yea Dane. If you’re crushing the workouts, my vote would be The Punisher.

      • Dane

        #SVW may push me to be Flex Luthor (See what I did there?)

  • Benjamin Boudro

    You’re Killing It Rob! #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Thanks Ben. Appreciate the kind words. #BandanaArmy

  • Adam Owens

    Dude.. love this workout. Love the passion that you put into everything you do. You’re one of the best guys out there. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Geez. Thanks Adam. That makes me smile. #BandanaArmy

  • Great read. The Law of Progressive Awesomeness! Thanks.

    • BandanaTraining

      Yes. I LIKE it. Thanks for reading Chris.

  • Taylor Spivey

    Also, I feel like I should mention I am very disappointed that new gym memberships don’t include baby calves for those pre Common era gains. #BandanaArmy #SVW #WhoNeedsCowsWhenYouveGotIron

    • BandanaTraining

      Haha. This inspires me to write an infomercial about baby calf training.

      • Taylor Spivey

        Please write an onion style article about the benefits of calf training it would be hilarious!

  • jonsey

    Even more great information. I can never get enough, SVW work out start up right after i finish my 5/3/1 progression. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Excellent. Can’t wait to hear about your progress. #BandanaArmy

  • Daniel Vielhaber

    Bought the program in the first hour of its availability because I trust you, my friend. Excited to get started after my Spartan Beast in May. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      I like your style. Plus, Super Villains don’t hesitate. They take what is rightfully theirs. #BandanaArmy

  • Frank Way

    #BandanaArmy have to check out this new program……

    • BandanaTraining

      yes. yes you do.

  • Rik Tiwana

    Just signed up for emails and they’re awesome AND the chance for free swag… Sweeeeet #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Boom. Welcome aboard Rik. #BandanaArmy

  • GymShark

    #BandanaArmy is where it’s at. I’m enjoying the #SVW program. I’m tweaking it to fit my current training and so far everything has been a welcome addition.

    • BandanaTraining

      Sounds awesome and smart to me. Keep up the ass kick, GymShark.

  • airmang

    Started SVW Tuesday and it’s great!Couldn’t resist a workout with Venom in it! #BandanaArmy #SVW

    • BandanaTraining

      Awesome to hear. Keep kicking ass. #BandanaArmy #SVW

  • JabroniJacked

    Can’t get those gainz if you ain’t training like a villain #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      What do they say…”If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t give you extraterrestrial symbiote powers.” #BandanaArmy #SVW

  • jess

    Awesome article… Always love your stuff..this is no diff. #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      You. So Sweet. You. #BandanaArmy

  • Matthew Arielly

    Thanks, Rob! You’re constantly inspiring me to amp-up my game. This article was especially helpful in keeping me on track towards my goals. Will for sure be purchasing #SVW—so glad you took the plunge into the comic book world! Again, thanks, I’m looking forward to getting started. #BandanaArmy #Shredzville

    • BandanaTraining

      Hell yea Matthew. So wonderful to hear. Keep up the good work. #BandanaArmy

  • Jason Gutierrez

    Has anyone ever gone to the Running of the Bulls and attempted to throw one over their shoulders? Love your stuff, Rob. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      haha. My new life dream.

  • Grant Welmers

    Rob, I’m planning on overhauling my entire wardrobe with only Bandana Training Bandanas head-to-toe from here on out to get huge and ripped! I need a few to start with though! Hook a brotha up! Also sick work on the SVW! Looking to pick up a copy soon!
    Grant W

    • BandanaTraining

      Yo Grant. Awesome to hear from you, dude. It’s a scientific fact that wearing a bandana increases T-levels by 12% but further studies are warranted on head-to-toe BT bandanas for us to make any conclusive conclusions.

      • Grant

        I will be that Guenia Pig!

  • Jason

    I’m recovering from a tib/fib and humerus fracture due to a drunk driver hitting me while I was going beast mode on my bicycle. Once I’m 100% I look forward using this program. I’m growing impatient with my recovery….

    • BandanaTraining

      Holy. Wishing you a speedy recovery Jason. Stay strong.

  • tBotti

    Why does it feel so good to be bad? Can’t wait to get my SAVAGE on, just 3 weeks away! #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Evil is the new awesome. #BandanaArmy

  • Tom002

    Great article as always. Thanks! #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Appreciate that Tom. #BandanaArmy

  • Luis Espinoza

    After having great results with BeachFit, I’m excited to tackle on another one of your programs! Thanks and keep up the awesome work Rob #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Hell yea. Back in the ring for Round 2. Lemme know if you have any questions, Luis.

  • AMB

    I used to like #BandanaArmy. I still do, but I used to too. Basically, I liked #BanadanaArmy before it was cool. Can’t wait to try #SVW!

    • BandanaTraining

      Yo AMB. The army is growing. Crazy, innite?

  • Alex

    You are the man. Keep killin it #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Thanks Alex. *Bicep Flex* #BandanaArmy

  • Gerry Rodriguez

    Currently researching how to buy a baby calf. Making some great progress so far: http://www.ehow.com/how_10032200_buy-baby-calves.html

    • BandanaTraining

      Haha. Keep me posted on progress. #BandanaArmy #DoItForMilo

  • Cody Drimel

    Been following the Bandana Nation for a while… finally gunna purchase my first product with #SVW Super Stoked to be the next official member of the #BANDANAARMY !! #GainzOnGainz

    • BandanaTraining

      This is a big step, Cody. I’m ready to take this relationship to another level. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Yo Cody. Congrats on winning the Super Villain Tank. Hit me up on Facebook with your mailing ady and size (the tanks run a little big – FYI. So if you like your shirts snug, like me, order a size smaller than yooj.) I’ll get one off to you this afternoon.

  • Jamie

    I love to show my guns !#BANDANAARMY

    • BandanaTraining

      Sleeves are overrated. #BandanaArmy

  • Josh Schneider

    Great stuff as always, Rob! You da man! #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Thanks Josh. Appreciate you reading. #BandanaArmy

  • Sapna Panchal

    #BandanaArmy I want it bad..

    • BandanaTraining

      You like dat tank top, don’t you??

      • Sapna Panchal

        I love it

  • Michael Manderville

    You’re still killin it Rob! Love reading your stuff #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Thanks Michael. *Big Smile* #BandanaArmy

  • Goose

    Because being awesome is for everybody. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      Amen. #BandanaArmy

  • Brent Gates

    Just read the stuff on good ol’ Milo and the bull. Haha been a bandana army member, the #svw workout, haha did someone mention a drifit beanie, tank, and bandana? Sign me up (oh wait, already am) haha

    • BandanaTraining

      Good dude, that Milo. Thanks for reading Brent. #BandanaArmy

  • Anel Kadiric

    Just give me my swag already dang #bandanarmy #wheresmyroller #yourebadass #babycabbages

  • Anel Kadiric

    Dang just give me my swag already #BandanaArmy #babycabbages #hi

    • BandanaTraining

      I have to admit, I like the hashtag #BabyCabbages.

      • Anel Kadiric

        It’s all yours.


  • seanjohns82

    5×5 stronglifts is a great example of progressive overload. Great for building strength !

    • BandanaTraining

      Totally agree. Also…I heart strength.

  • Rob Llano

    Hey, for SVW, which type of BB deadlift would you want us to sub for trap bar deads in the event we do not have a trap bar? Traditional? Sumo? Snatch grip?

    • Rob Llano

      also, i guess i’m supposed to put #bandanaarmy?

      • BandanaTraining

        Sumo. (and you can never go wrong with #BandanaArmy)

  • Matt


  • Dave Murray

    #bandanaArmy. I hashtag this on my Instagram pics too!

    • BandanaTraining

      HELL YEA. #BandanaArmy

  • Helena

    I’m proud to be a part of the #BandanaArmy. You’re the man, Rob 🙂

    • BandanaTraining

      Shucks. You’re sweet. #BandanaArmy

  • Lauren

    Great article, going back to basics 🙂

    • BandanaTraining

      Basics are the bestsics. #BandanaArmy

  • Michelle

    Now if only I had my own #BandanaArmy of calves to carry up a mountain every day.

    • BandanaTraining

      We need to look into this. #BandanaArmy

  • Jody Reid

    Hells ya I want one!!! #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      I understand your desire. They’re pretty awesome. #BandanaArmy

  • Richard Waqanivalu

    Is the #BandanaArmy going to be an army of super villains??

    • BandanaTraining

      I sure hope so. #BandanaArmy

  • Helen

    Heck yeah! Thanks for the epic knowledge bombs #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      You GOT it. Happy to help Helen. #BandanaArmy

  • Sara Vigil

    This sounds too good to be true…please tell me it isn’t an April Fools joke….I trust no one today, but I feel like I can trust you!! #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      I’m skeptical of everyone on April fools as well. But this is no joke. (and I’m glad you trust me) *big smile* #BandanaArmy

  • Marcin Matlak

    Very good article! Let’s put it in practice now! #BANDANAARMY

    • BandanaTraining

      Why thank you Marcin. DO IT NOW. #BandanaArmy

  • Adam Loyd

    Got this program looking it over, ready to jump off with day one on monday! I’ll be ready to kick some ass and conquor the world before you know it. #BandannaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      So awesome to hear. Kick ass and lemme know if you have any questions. #BandanaArmy

  • Makis

    Could use some new gear to get the summer started off right. Thanks for the opportunity #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      hell yea Makis. Thanks for reading. #BandanaArmy

  • Katrina Armstrong

    #bandanaarmy All in, all the time!

    • BandanaTraining

      BOOM. #BandanaArmy

  • Ayanthi

    #BandanaArmy is for chicks too!

    • BandanaTraining

      Absolutely. All are welcome. #BandanaArmy

  • Mac Thomas

    Just got it. Your online coaching evolved me. #SVW is this blueprint to forever progress we’ve been waiting for. Thank you! Training like a villain to be a hero is one hell of a ride.

    • BandanaTraining

      Awesome to hear Mac. Keep me posted on progress and let me know if you have any questions. bro-hugz.

  • Nancy T

    I’d like a bandana. I’m pretty badass. I’d do the villain program, but am in the middle of a program now. Mr. Rob you are encouraging, supportive, GREAT to have “near by”. Keep doing your greatness!

    • BandanaTraining

      Thanks for saying so Nancy. You stay badass.

    • BandanaTraining

      Nancy. Congrats on winning the Nike running beany. Hit me up on Facebook with your mailing ady and I’ll get one off to you this afternoon.

  • Tank

    Love the idea of the Super Villian workout, Rob! I appreciate your intentionally atypical and non-uptight approach to your articles and fitness. Keep up the good work! BroHugz. #BandanaArmy

    • BandanaTraining

      thanks for the kind words Tank. #BandanaArmy

  • Bandannaboy

    This is a great group! I can’t wait to see the next great program!

    • BandanaTraining

      why thank you Bandannaboy.

  • Mike P

    Tried SHW but would love to see how SVW works too #Bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      kick ass Mike. Welcome aboard. #BandanaArmy

  • Krista

    quad deep in #svw & lovin’ it (btw, rowing intervals are crazy hard!) thanks for another great article #bandanaarmy

    • BandanaTraining

      so awesome to hear Krista. Keep kicking ass. #BandanaArmy

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  • Smartered. Funny article. And here I thought newbies made faster progress due to full motor unit recruitment. The hardest thing about progressing your loads is slowing down to speed up, spending time to work on your bottom range, or push the reps of your 80% max…. Sucking it up and lifting with precision would be easier if I could wear my PR on my T-shirt.

    • BandanaTraining

      Ha. Thanks for reading Adam. Yep, yep. So many challenges to lifting but that’s what makes it so awesome, right? All the best, brotha.

  • I love your style, dude. You are one funny mofo and definitely know your shit. It’s all the same fitness info everywhere you look, so it’s great to see someone with incredible passion and flare and can come at things from a unique angle.

    Boat drinks, bro…

    • BandanaTraining

      Appreciate the kid words Steve. Stay strong. Stay awesome.

  • Definitely like this statement: “humble beginnings + small, seemingly unnoticeable progression = legendary results.”

    • BandanaTraining

      Yessir. Any successful person’s mantra. Thanks for reading Danny.