We all want to lift heavier weight. Not only does it feed our egos but it also feeds the gains we’re hoping to see. Unfortunately, too many lifters fail to effectively program the way they want to progressively overload their muscles and end up in stagnation. Luckily, there is one method, called Double Progression, which can be used to layout a safe and simple way to gradually increase the intensity of any lift.
The methodology here is simple - pick a set & rep scheme based on your goals and a starting weight that you’re close, but not entirely able to complete that number of sets and reps with. Generally, if you’re looking for an increase in strength 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps works well and if you’re looking for an increase in hypertrophy 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps works well. Below you’ll find a real world example.
Let’s say you bench 3 sets of 5 with 225 pounds without issue, but when you try to go for a 4th set you can only hit 4 reps and when you go for that 5th set you only hit 3 reps. So at 225 pounds you hit 5,5,5,4,3. The next time you bench, you should be shooting for the addition of at least one rep on the sets you didn’t make it to 5 reps with previously. Perhaps you hit 5,5,5,5,4 the next time you bench. You progress this way, adding reps to each workout until you can successfully hit 5 sets of 5 reps with 225. Only then, are you allowed to increase the weight on that lift.
We’re creating progressive overload in two ways here – increasing the total reps every time we hit the lift and increasing the weight once we hit a specified set & rep milestone. This is Double Progression.
The reason it works so well is that it helps emphasize the idea that anything more than we did previously, even one additional rep, is progress. Furthermore, it follows a simple and gradual pathway to increasing intensity, something many people tend to progress too quickly, which can lead to injury.
The only variable we haven’t hit on is how much you should increase the weight every time you hit a set & rep milestone. This is entirely dependent on the type of lift – compound or isolation and upper body or lower body. I prefer no more than 2.5 pounds on isolation lifts like the EZ bar curl, no more than 5 pounds on upper body compound lifts like the bench press, and no more than 10 pounds on lower body compound lifts like the squat.
The reality here is that lifting is a lifelong sport, where pushing too hard too fast can really wreak havoc on your joints and your progress. Utilizing methodologies like Double Progression will allow you to dramatically extend your body’s shelf life and your lifting career. Moreover, they reinforce that old adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you.”
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to comment below or email me directly.
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