Monday, September 2, 2013

Double Progression

Progressive overload is the key to increasing size and strengths. Unless you're a power lifter or Olympic Weightlifter training is not s competition.  You want to set weights for maximum progress through your target rep range, appropriate to your goals. Progressive overload means that you are doing more work over time. Double progression is the most familiar way to program progressive overload for beginner to advanced weight training.

Progression(in this case Double Progression)  will be different for beginners than intermediate or advanced lifter. Beginners will often show the fastest increases due to muscle enervation(neuromuscular activation) and to a lesser extent strength gain.  Intermediate, advanced lifters will see slower progress primarily due to the slower nature of strength again and the fact that they are approaching maximal strength along a flatter slope. Beginners often make the largest improvements over the first 3 months of focused training than they ever will in their life.  Progression(double progression) will also differ between men and women due to relatively less muscle mass(particularly upper body muscle mass) of the latter.

Progression will also vary by size of the muscle mass to be trained.  Larger muscle groups(say the squat) group will progress faster than smaller groups because of the larger muscle mass involved.

Another frustrating aspect of all progression is that adaptation will often happen in waves.  Gains from training rarely, if ever, happen in a linear fashion.

Double Progression

Lets say, for example, I may be able to perform three sets of twelve successfully with 185 pounds, prompting me to add another increment(say five pounds) for the following week.  However, at some point I will not be able to complete eight reps in all three sets.  At that time, my goal would then be to add at least one rep each week until I again reached by goal of eight reps for three sets.  More weight will then be added, reps will drop back down, and the cycle continues.  So first you are progressing by adding reps, once your target top-of-range is hit with proper form you then increase the weight (2nd progression) and begin your reps again until you hit the top-of-range again with perfect form.

Using reps and then weights is not the only form of double progression.  Any of the variables of training can be combined to allow for double progression.  We will discuss this topic in much more detail in a future post, tentatively entitled Triple Progression.

Double progression fights stagnation and allows for two avenues of progression by taking into account both increases in weight lifted as well as the number of repetitions performed.  By setting a repetition range that you know i effective for you and fits your goals, you can most efficiently effect strength and muscle mass gains while consistently raising the working weight to compensate for your new found adaptation.

For double progression to work you need to find some effective way to record your workouts.

What gets measured, gets managed. If you can’t tell me how many sets and reps you did with a particular weight two weeks ago, how can you guarantee that you’re actually getting stronger?  How will you know when it's time to increase your weights?

Whatever system you choose doesn't have to be elaborate. A small notebook such as a Moleskine can be effective. Many people, including myself are using Cell Phone or tablet spreadsheets which do have the advantage that you can do additional calculations such as total work per session, and the ability to graph progress over time.

A simple printed chart(below) often works well, as long as you remember to bring it to the gym, or if the facility has a someplace to store your charts.

This chart is available free at available for free at Weightlifting Charts 

At the top of the page, write the date of your workout. Then, simply write down the exercise you are doing. When you finish a set, record it in your notebook while you’re waiting to do the next one.

You can look back and see how you’re making long-term progress. You can see on which dates you trained and how often you were on schedule .. You can verify that you did the best exercises each workout. You can see how you are slowly building up volume and developing a foundation of strength . And you can prove that you’re making slow methodical progress each week  Recording your training is especially important because it brings all of these points together.

In future Posts we will explore much more on Progressive Overload, Including
Other Progression Schemes
Other Programming Concepts
Rep Schemes for differing goals.
Multi variable progressions

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