You do not need to over complicate things.
Ever noticed that some training programs are similar week to week but have slight changes?
In most cases this is a good sign that the program or workouts are thought out and planned well.
This is how we do things week to week. Inside of Resistance Training (aka any type of training in which your body meets resistance, weights, bodyweight, etc…) it is important to keep things similar for a few weeks for a few reasons.
To name a few it is because when you repeat similar patterns or exercises it allows for your body to learn the movement better.
Next it allows both you and your Coach to see progression from week to week more easily.
Finally it keeps a Coach from over using the principle of variance. Which means you don’t see so many different things all the time that leads to no progression.
Let’s lay out the 6 different ways we progress resistance training from week to week that seem too simple to be true.
#1 Decrease Reps and add more load
I know, almost too simple.
But this is just a version of Linear Progression.
What we look to do with this is typically start a cycle of training (4-12 weeks in most cases) with a higher volume approach and decrease the amount of volume over the upcoming weeks.
As you go through the weeks and the reps decrease you should “in theory” be able to add more load as you work down. In most cases you can add more weight making you stronger.
Week 1 – 10 reps x 4 sets @ 200#
Week 2 – 8 reps x 4 sets @ 225#
Week 3 – 6 reps x 4 sets @ 250#
Week 4 – 4 reps x 4 sets @ 275#
As you can see this is a simple approach that works well for tons of people.
#2 Decrease Rest or Add Rest
This approach works on the intensity of the workout.
With more rest after each set of exercises you typically can lift more weight from set to set with better quality of movement.
You being less fatigued and better recovered is the primary reason for this.
When you decrease rest you can add to the intensity of the workout.
Your heart rate is higher, you burn more calories, and you dig further into your energy stores to move the load.
This method really taps into how a simple change can completely alter a training session.
#3 Add Sets or Decrease Sets Increase Load
Adding sets is a great way to increase total volume used in a workout.
Volume, intensity, and frequency are the biggest factors in you becoming stronger.
At it’s purest form it looks a lot like the example below.
Example of Adding sets:
Week 1 – 10 reps x 2 sets @200#
Week 2 – 10 reps x 3 sets @200#
Week – 3 10 reps x 4 sets @200#
Example of Decrease Sets Increase Load:
Week 1 – 10 reps x 4 sets @100#
Week 2 – 10 reps x 3 sets @150#
Week 3 – 10 reps x 2 sets @200#
This approach works best when you start a cycle of training with a manageable load and leave room to progress as you gain strength.
#4 Increase the complexity of a movement
This is one of our favorite ways to progress people.
With so much variation available to the Coach in this department it is such a fun method to use inside programming.
You can vary the surface of foot placement, where the load is (front rack, suitcase, back rack, etc..), seated, standing, strict to dynamic, and the list goes on.
At the time this blog is being written it is being used inside of our gyms programming.
Let’s look at how you can do this:
Week 1 – Seated Strict Barbell Press
Week 2 – Standing Barbell Press
Week 3 – Push Press (getting more dynamic now aka faster)
Week 4 – Push Jerk (very dynamic)
Week 5 – Split Jerk (as dynamic as you can get)
This was the exact progression that was followed recently.
Check out the beginning HERE and follow week to week on each Monday.
#5 Increase or Decrease Time Under Tension
This is where we use a method of training called Tempo Training.
Someone once told me that “Muscles are stupid, they only recognize tension”.
This is so true because the muscle doesn’t know how much weight we are lifting.
The muscle only understands that it feels tension.
Tempo training (increasing or decreasing tension) is a great way to progress the same exercise, with the same load, with the same rest period.
Week 1 – 10 reps x 3 sets @ 3/1/x/1 = 5 seconds of tension per rep
Week 2 – 10 reps x 3 sets @5/1/x/1 = 7 seconds of tension per rep
Week 3 – 10 reps x 3 sets @5/2/x/1 = 8 seconds of tension per rep
This is a fun method to use and great for progressing beginners inside of resistance training.
#6 Increase Exercise Per Session or Sessions
This is the final method and one that is utilized a lot inside Individual Programming Design.
This is method is used based of a persons Training Age or how long they have been training.
When you increase the amount of exercises used you increase the duration and intensity of a workout.
When you increase the number of session you increase overall fatigue in the week. This is especially important to be aware of because most beginners can training a body part more often but do best with less training session.
Where as an intermediate and advanced person can handle more session better but can’t do the same body parts as often.
Want more information on Individual Programming that we offer? Click here to Learn More!
At the end of the day it is important to realize progression can be done in several different ways and not one way fits all.
Some benefit from different approaches better than others.
If you remember that our bodies purpose is to keep us at homeostasis.
If we make slight changes to training from time to time it allows us to change something just enough to disrupt that process.
Leading to muscle growth, and increasing in ability from our body.
Coach Cody Smith