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-   -   The Wonders of Linear Progression (http://www.muscleandbrawn.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15440)

mohiz 11-08-2013 08:49 AM

The Wonders of Linear Progression
 
What is linear progression?
Linear progression is when you progress on a given exercise by increasing the weight by a fixed amount every workout without altering the rep scheme. As long as you can complete the required sets and reps, you increase the weight next time. If you can't complete them, the weight will remain the same for the next workout.

Resets
Over time as the workset weight is constantly increased, you inevitably reach a point where you can no longer recover enough to make the next workout. This is when stalls happen.

Each time you fail a couple of sessions in a row, you must reduce the weight by a set amount and start the progression again from that lower amount. After each reset the goal should be to get a little past your previous PRs before you stall again. The idea is that you will get stronger by lifting sub-maximal weights.

Known programs that use this progression method
  • Starting Strength
  • Stronglifts
  • Ice Cream Fitness' Novice 5x5

Variables
  • Weight increments (for example 2.5 kg or 5 lbs)
  • Reset amount (for example 10%)
  • How often weight is increased (every workout, every other...)

In my experience this method works, and it works well as long as the trainee is patient and the variables are dialed in. For example, I've increased my squat from 40 kg for 3x5 to 170 kg for 5x5 by using nothing but linear progression. At least with regards to the squat, increasing the weight by 2.5 kg 3x a week, and using 10% resets has been pretty much optimal. Stalls will happen often, but the trick is not to change anything, but just do the reset and start building back up. After each reset the next week or two will be kind of light, and you will be able to push past your previous stalling point.

I have found that the best thing to do is to always increase the weight, even if you don't think you can make it. Doing the same weight over and over doesn't make it any easier, but pushing higher and then resetting back down does.

I am unsure about which is better: aggressive increments and more frequent stalls, or slow increments and more prolonged progress. I am actually thinking the more aggressive increments and more stalls would be the better method, because it will yield an auto-regulating undulating progression where the intensity builds quickly and then gets released after a reset. For example, in the bench press I have been using micro-increases of 1.25 kg, and they don't seem very effective because it takes so long to build back to my old strength levels after each reset.

I would like to hear your experiences and opinions on how to use this powerful method the best.

SaxonViolence 11-08-2013 11:41 AM

I don't know if you are aware or not...

But Jason (Icecreamfitness) also recommends periodic Scheduled Deloads.

For instance, you start with 100 Pounds.

Every week, for 6, 7, 8 weeks—whatever—you add five pounds.

At week 6 you're at 130 Pounds.

Week 7 you cut the weight in half and go through your same routine.

i.e. You use 65 Pounds.

Week 8—which is your new week 1—you go back to 130 Pounds.

(or you could reset to 125 Pounds, depending on how aggressive your training and how many stalls you're having.)

The theory is that Muscles grow stronger faster than Tendons and Ligaments and this gives them a chance to recover and catch up.

BUT (according to Theory) if you just took a week off:

A.} You'd looses some Neuromuscular Skill;

AND,

B.} The light pumping movements helps increase blood flow to connective tissue.

I saw Jason demonstrating a Deload on "U" Tube.

He did his 50% normal 5x5 Bench Press weight (I believe that it was Bench) and did all 25 reps at one time.

He remarked that with that light a weight, rest between sets wasn't really necessary.

{Note: 50% his 5x5 weight, NOT 50% his Maximum.}

I remember reading that some of the Olde Tyme Strongmen would work out for 6 weeks and then take a "Sabbatical Week" off.

Maybe if they'd known about the 50% token workout they could have gained a bit more Strength.

I don't remember precisely how often Jason recommends a Deload Week. I think in his system, every 7th week would be a bit often...

But hey, a little playing around with a pad and paper would show that even averaging a Pound per week would get you into astonishing Strength levels in two or three years...

{Of course, even that is a bit unrealistic...}

But going a little slower and more deliberately may very well get you there faster.

{And yes, he includes a wildcard Deload workout or two followed by a reset whenever stalls or connective tissue pains become an issue—but these are in addition to the scheduled Deload Week not instead of.}

You don't have to do it this way, but I couldn't tell from your post if you were aware of that Aspect of Deloading.


Saxon Violence

MadMonk 11-08-2013 11:49 AM

Iv only ever used linear progression, it's all I know.
I like to keep things as simple as possible, I have a tendency to over analyse things as it is so if I tried running something like 531 I know I'd give myself an headache with numbers and percentages.

Carl1174 11-08-2013 12:56 PM

it is by far the easiest way to progress...

Just a question, how long do people think linear progression will work for? Is it really a viable progression scheme for advanced athletes? Just playing devils advocate here, but surly it will only work for so long? Or is the idea of linear progression still viable right up to our potential?

mohiz 11-08-2013 01:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl1174 (Post 424769)
it is by far the easiest way to progress...

Just a question, how long do people think linear progression will work for? Is it really a viable progression scheme for advanced athletes? Just playing devils advocate here, but surly it will only work for so long? Or is the idea of linear progression still viable right up to our potential?

I as well am interested in hearing answers to this question from some of the more experienced guys in here.

So far I don't see why it wouldn't work indefinitely, because even if it slows down and you can only get 5 lbs past your previous stall after each reset, it's still progress.

Using the squat as an example, say you stall at 400 lbs, then reset to 360 and take 8 workouts or about 3 weeks to build back up, and then stall again at 405... This is the point where many would hop programs. But if you look at it another way, you've still made 5 lbs progress in 3 weeks which is not bad if you think long term. Maybe at that point some other progression method would be faster, though... I don't know.

J_Byrd 11-08-2013 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl1174 (Post 424769)
it is by far the easiest way to progress...

Just a question, how long do people think linear progression will work for? Is it really a viable progression scheme for advanced athletes? Just playing devils advocate here, but surly it will only work for so long? Or is the idea of linear progression still viable right up to our potential?

It will work to 2380 equipped, and nearly a raw 2k gym total without training for it. :D

J_Byrd 11-08-2013 02:31 PM

It was all I used up until I moved to train down here in Florida. Still use some of the principles, but at this level the risk of injury is pretty high using linear. The tendons (at least mine) dont seem to like the stress from benching that way.

Bill 11-08-2013 03:43 PM

I do a slight variation: I do 3 sets of 5 but on the last set I do as many reps as possible short of failure. Only been at it a few months. I had one reset and am blowing passed the last set reps I hit the first time

mohiz 11-09-2013 07:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill (Post 424801)
I do a slight variation: I do 3 sets of 5 but on the last set I do as many reps as possible short of failure. Only been at it a few months. I had one reset and am blowing passed the last set reps I hit the first time

That interests me. I might try something like that with my bench press after my next stall. It always bothers me that when I do a reset, it might take me a month to build back to the old PR according to the progression, during which time I feel like I'm training too light. Going all out on the last set would be fun.

TobesLCFC 11-09-2013 07:25 AM

Linear progression can be done forever, it's just the time it takes to progress might take a bit longer. For example, adding weight every workout to adding weight every week, to adding weight every month to adding reps , to adding sets. Periodization is still a useful tool and as Mo noticed, one might progress quickly if they swapped between linear progression and periodization every so often.


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