how about on diets? is it smart to use progression on diets, or is it better to just stick with a single (heavy) weight and maintain it throughout the diet?
Strength Progression: The Key to Muscle Growth
November 21 2009
The reason why I picked strength progression is that it is one of the cardinal rules of lifting and probably the most ignored in the gym. How much have you increased the weight lifted in an exercise in the last 6 months? If you have no clue, then keep reading.
What is strength progression?
It is simply the gradual process of increasing the amount of weight you lift in each exercise.
Why is strength progression Important?
Your body is designed to be incredibly efficient: It likes to spend the least amount of resources and energy to keep it ticking
If you are using a 10 lb weight, your nervous system, your muscles and your connective tissue has adapted just enough (and not an ounce more) to lift that 10lb weight. It sees no glory whatsoever in increasing your muscle if you are not bothered to increase that 10lb weight.
If you have been using the same weight you did for months, I will give you a 100% money back guarantee that haven’t made any positive changes to your muscle. It’s sad, but true.
Should I progress in reps or weight?
Once you hit 15 reps, the weight gets really low for the muscle to make any appreciable adaptations. So progression generally in strength training means increase in weights lifted.
Is strength increase important for muscle growth?
Your strength is depended on 2 factors: Nervous system adaptation and Muscle growth.
If your strength is climbing, it’s due to one of these factors, usually both. You cannot really control which factor dominates your strength increase. Hence, if your strength is increasing and you are eating well, you can be rest assured that you are gaining muscle.
So how should I progress in strength?
There are different ways to progress in weight:
Option 1: Have a repetition range, like 8-10 reps than just 8 reps or 10 reps. When you get 10 reps with a weight, increase the weight by 5 or 10lbs - and now try to get 8 reps. With just one number like 8 or 10, it becomes hard not to be subjective in deciding when to go up in weights:
Option 2: Start at a low weight and keep adding 5lbs to your upper body exercises and 10lb to your lower body exercises every workout. When you cannot increase the weight for 2 consecutive workouts, change the exercise and repeat.
Option 3: If you have been stuck at the same weight for more than 2 workouts, decrease the weight by 5-10% and take 2-3 weeks to get to the previous weight and then break through the plateau.
This is the most popular method if you do not want to change your exercise. It’s basically called an “Intensity deload”.
Option 4: Start at 12 reps and decrease the reps by 2 every 2-3 weeks. So week 1 & 2: 12 reps, Week 3 & 4: 10 reps, Week 5 & 6: 8 reps and so on.
- Keep a workout log to chart your progress
- Plan your progression before your workouts: Write down a realistic progression goal for each exercise.
Anoop | Sat November 21, 2009
If you are on a diet and if you can just maintain the strength, you are doing great (because most can’t). So progression is not the most important goal when you are on a diet.
If you can lift a weight and still has 4-6 reps left in the tank, you have adapted to that weight and you are not tapping into those Type 2 fibers.
So about how often should someone increase the weight every 2 weeks or so?
I’d like to hear a opinion on different reps scheme efficiency: pyramid, set-across, reverse pyramid.
Anoop | Mon November 23, 2009
It really depends on the program you are on.
As I wrote, you can go up in weights every week if you are using options 2,3, & 4, but not for 1.
You just cannot go up in weights every 1 or 2 weeks unless you start back at a much lower weight.
Why can’t you increase the weight if doing option 1. You know weight lifting is so confusing I can spend hours researching I guess that we just have to get out there and try new things to see if it will work for us.
Anoop | Wed November 25, 2009
You cannot increase weights EVERY WEEK in Option1. If you can, people will be lifting some in human weights.
The reason why I said you can do it in other options is because you are starting out way lighter and hence can increase the weight every week. In option 1, you are working at your max levels every week. And you don’t have to work at max levels to increase protein synthesis or strength.
Al, you are welcome to register in the forum if you have more questions.
drive Recovery | Mon May 17, 2010
I guess that we just have to get out there and try new things to see if it will work for us.
Fishing games | Sat May 22, 2010
thanks for this interesting post, i want to ask a question how long does it take for the muscle to adapt to a weight?
en guzel hediye elma sekeri | Thu July 01, 2010
Thank you administrator.
I’m curious, in other articles you mention that muscle knows no difference or cares how much weight is being lifted as long as the muscle is being taxed and you are pushing yourself every week, shoudln’t the muscle grow? For example I’ve been at the same dumbbell weight for my chest for weeks now, and have not been able to go up. I go till failure in about 6-8 reps. I don’t see how lowering my weight and progressing up again will change anything? Could you help me?