How to Choose the Right Load Progression Strategy

There are many strategies for weekly load progression. In this article, Dr. Mike Zourdos breaks down the pros and cons of the most popular options.
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Main Points

  • There are various ways to progress load, and all have both positive and negative aspects.
  • An arbitrary progression does not take into account individual rate of adaptation.
  • Autoregulation strategies to progress load can be individualized but can also fail based upon atypical performance.
  • Ultimately, you will not progress training load every week, but if you stay consistent, long-term progress will inevitably occur.

Introduction

Guys, I’m super stoked about this guest article from Dr. Mike Zourdos.  If you don’t know Mike, he’s a professor and researcher at Florida Atlantic University, and two of his biggest research focuses are RPE and periodization (particularly DUP).  He’s one of the best minds in strength research, and one of the partners in our research review MASS:  Monthly Applications in Strength Sport.

Almost every day, there is a new podcast, article, or video blog weighing in on some sort of programming structure, and that’s good. However, no matter which overarching strategy you put into practice, there is far less discussion regarding weekly load progression. Someone may have gathered enough information to understand that peaking strength involves decreasing volume and increasing intensity as competition or test day approaches, but just providing an overall structure falls short of providing coaches and lifters with enough specifics to implement a particular strategy. Specifically, an overarching structure will give long-term guidelines but won’t provide insight into the weekly changes that need to be made. Perhaps the most common week-to-week change is load progression. Surely, we all look to continuously increase the load we are lifting, but how are we supposed to do this? What strategies can you use to dictate load progression?  How much should you increase load each week? Are different progression strategies appropriate for experienced and novice lifters? 

As is often the case, the answer to progressing load is “it depends.” But, let’s not stop there: Let’s talk directly about three strategies to progress load from week-to-week. These strategies are:

  1. An arbitrary progression
  2. Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise
  3. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) progression

The purpose of this article is to describe each of these strategies, present exactly how they can be used, and to present the positives and negatives of each strategy so that you can implement them for yourself or your clients at the appropriate times. Oh, and load doesn’t have to progress every week; in fact, it won’t, but let’s get back to that later on. For now, our three progression strategies:

Load Progression Strategies

1. Arbitrary Progression

An arbitrary progression is the simplest strategy we will cover and is simply adding a pre-determined “arbitrary” amount of weight from week to week. This would be commonly accomplished by adding 2.5 or 5kg each week. An example of this strategy can be seen in Table 1, in which a sample mesocycle for training the squat is presented and 5kg is added from week 1 to week 2 and then 2.5kg is added after that. This progression is pre-determined for the lifter. The reason that 5 kg is added from weeks 1 to 2 and then only 2.5kg is added thereafter is because progression should slow over time; obviously, you cannot add 5kg forever. However, simply slowing the progression from 5 to 2.5kg after a week may not be enough to make this simple method the most viable one. Let’s talk about the positives and negatives of this strategy, beginning with the negatives.

Table 1: Example of an Arbitrary Progression

EXERCISE (WEEK)

MONDAY

WEDNESDAY

FRIDAY

SQUAT (WEEK 1)

3 X 8 @70%

4X6 @75%

5X4 @80%

SQUAT (WEEK 2)

3 X 8 @WK.1 +5kg

4X6 @WK.1+5kg

5X4 @WK.1+5kg

SQUAT (WEEK 3)

3 X 8 @WK.2 +2.5kg

4X6 @WK.1+2.5kg

5X4 @WK.1+2.5kg

SQUAT (WEEK 4)

3 X 7 @WK.2 +2.5kg

4X5 @WK.1+2.5kg

5X3 @WK.1+2.5kg

Note: This table shows a pre-determined progression for each week in the training block.

Negatives: The negative consequences of an arbitrary progression are easy to determine. Quite simply, someone may not progress at a fast enough rate to meet the pre-determined progression. This will cause a lifter to miss repetitions, which would cause failure to meet training volume requirements and likely cause unnecessary fatigue. Think logically for a second: When’s the last time you missed repetitions consistently and still had a successful training block?  If you are missing repetitions consistently, you’ll likely have to taper and start the training block over. On the other hand, someone could progress faster than the pre-determined progression and place too little stress on themselves over the course of the training block. Now, I would argue that the latter problem is not too much of an issue, but the main point is that an arbitrary progression has its obvious problems, as adaptation rates are highly individuals.  Indeed, research from Hubal et al. (2005) reported increases in one-repetition maximum (1RM) from 0-250% over 12 weeks across 585 men and women (1). While a difference that large is highly unlikely in trained individuals, it does demonstrate that the rate of strength adaptation is individual, which illustrates the shortcomings of an arbitrary progression strategy.

Positives: Despite the obvious drawbacks, there is a strong positive to arbitrary progression that I always like to point out.  In novice or even intermediate lifters, progression can be very rapid, even to the point where 5-10kg could be added with ease each week for the duration of a block or even two training blocks. However, just because you can add 10kg, doesn’t mean that you should. Similarly, autoregulated progression strategies (discussed in-depth below) can lead to a large increase in absolute load for a novice individual every week, and once again, just because you can increase load to a large degree each week doesn’t mean that you should. When a novice individual increases load too fast, this causes a constant increase in volume, and in the short-term, moderate volumes may be preferable for both strength (2, 3) and hypertrophy (3) to high volumes. Therefore, I see no reason for a novice individual to adapt to a higher training volume early on, especially if there is no guarantee that extra benefit will occur. Further, it is likely that a novice individual is still making great strides to improve their technique on multi-joint lifts (i.e. squat, bench press, deadlift, etc.), thus rapid load progressions could increase injury risk when technical mastery is not yet achieved. Therefore, in novice to intermediate lifters, it may be a successful strategy to prescribe an excellent load with a simple 2.5kg progression increase. Now, this exact prescribed load should be very easy in week 1 of the training block, maybe around a 4-5 RPE. That is certainly a very light RPE; however, if someone is a novice and they were previously doing no training, and now they are doing some training, their progress will be rapid even if leaving 5-6 repetitions (or even more) in the tank. Ultimately, a simple 2.5kg pre-determined load progression for a novice lifter can keep them from progressing too much too soon and provides one positive use example of an arbitrary progression.

Final Word: An arbitrary progression from week to week cannot be used universally since rate of strength adaptation is individual; however, it could keep novices from progressing too much too soon by stipulating they stick to a simple 2.5kg weekly load increase.

2. Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise (APRE)

Using APRE to progress weekly training load is a form of autoregulation in that you are using the previous week’s performance to dictate load for the current week. I’m sure everyone is familiar with the concept of doing what the internet calls an “as many reps as possible set” (AMRAP) or what I like to call a plus set. Essentially, for a plus set, you have prescribed sets and reps and you take the last set to failure. Thus, 5X4+ would be 4 sets of 4 reps with the 5th set taken to failure. To implement APRE you would increase the load for the following weekly directly proportional to the plus set, in that more reps on the plus set would be a greater increase in training load for the next week. In this example, the minimum prescribed reps is 4, so if you got 9-10, you would increase load for the following week by +7.5kg, 7-8 reps would equal an increase of 5kg, and 5-6 reps would cause an increase of 2.5kg. This progression scheme can be seen in Table 2. In short, more reps on a plus set equals a greater increase in load for the following week’s training. Let’s move onto positives and negatives, this time beginning with the positives.

Table 2: Example of APRE

Plus Set Repetitions Performed

Next Week’s

Load Increase

9-10

+7.5 kg

7-8

+5 kg

5-6

+2.5 kg

Positives: Since we have already established that the rate of strength adaptation is individual, the positives here are clear: APRE individualizes progression. Quite simply, the goal of this strategy allows an individual to progress based on their performance. From a coaching perspective, this is a viable strategy if you do not have weekly check-ins with a client. In this case, you could send a 4-week training block and provide a chart similar to Table 2 and the lifter could progress accordingly. If coaching in a team setting, in which many people are given the same program, this strategy could be successful since it allows each lifter in the setting to progress on their own. In fact, Dr. Bryan Mann coined the term APRE and demonstrated its superiority to a pre-determined load progression in a large team setting of collegiate football players (4).

One additional factor that is worth mentioning before moving onto the negatives is that using an absolute load progression as described in Table 1 may not be advisable. Let’s consider a case in which two lifters are going through the same program and using APRE. One lifter has a 1RM of 100kg, and the other has a 1RM of 200kg. They both get 10 reps on their plus sets, resulting in a load increase of 7.5kg for the following week. However, that is a relatively different increase between lifters, as the lifter with the 100kg 1RM is increasing the load by 7.5% of his max and the lifter with the 200kg 1RM is increasing the load by 3.75% of his max. In this strategy, the lifter with the lower 1RM will inevitably reach a point where they are progressing too much too soon; thus, a percentage-based APRE progression is likely advisable. A suggestion on how to implement this is in Table 3.

Table 3: Example of APRE

Plus Set Repetitions Performed

Next Week’s

Load Increase

9-10

+3.5 % of 1RM

7-8

+2% of 1RM

5-6

+1% of 1RM

Negatives: There are also some clear negative aspects to solely using this progression model. First, APRE bases progression on only one set during the entire week. In Table 1, the lifter is doing 12 squat sets per week, yet only the very last set of the entire week would be used for progression in an APRE model. This is a problem because there is likely atypical performance on a plus set. If you do 5 sets of 4+ at 80% of 1RM, you will likely be at a 6-8 RPE (2 repetitions in reserve – RIR) on each set. Additionally, because you know the first 4 sets are submaximal and your last set is to failure, you probably won’t get as psyched up on the first 4 sets. Then, on the 5th set, your excitability is higher (the music is turned up a little louder and the focus is greater), so you might get 10 reps, whereas you would have only gotten 7-8 in a normal state of excitability. If using APRE, you would have increased load for every squat set on every day of the following week based upon atypical performance due to enhanced excitability. There is no way that someone can maintain that level of excitability for each and every set the following week, nor would it be advisable. Thus, basing load progression solely off of one set performed in an artificial state of excitability would likely lead to progressing load too much and could possibly lead to missed repetitions.

Secondly, while APRE does allow a lifter to progress individually, it doesn’t take into account day-to-day fluctuations. Since APRE progresses load based upon the previous week, it cannot account for someone not feeling good during the following week, which could happen for a variety of reasons such as: sleep deprivation, long work day, extra activity causing fatigue, etc. Thus, if APRE calls for a load progression of 5kg, but the lifter cannot meet those demands due to only sleeping for 4 hours the previous night, further autoregulation strategies are needed.

Final Word: Using APRE allows for progression based upon plus set performance, which individualizes the rate of load increase; however, the drawback of this model is that it is basing progression off of only one set throughout the entire week.

3. Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

I’m sure most are familiar with the RPE scale, which is based upon RIR. The scale can be seen below in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Resistance Training-Specific RPE Scale

RPE VALUE

CORRESPONDING RIR OR EFFORT

10

Max Effort

9.5

No more reps, but could increase load

9

1 repetition remaining

8.5

1-2 repetitions remaining

8

2 repetitions remaining

7.5

2-3 repetitions remaining

7

3 repetitions remaining

5-6

4-6 repetitions remaining

3-4

Light effort

1-2

Little to no effort

Adapted from Zourdos et al. 2016 (5)

We mostly use the RPE scale to assign load. For example, we might prescribe 3 sets of 5 @7-8 RPE, and the lifter would then do sets of 5 with 2 to 3 reps in the tank on each set and would adjust the load if it fell outside of that range. There are actually many other ways to utilize this scale, though. One of them is load progression. To utilize RPE for load progression, you would simply have a reciprocal relationship between RPE and week-to-week progression, in that a lower RPE would result in a greater increase in load and a higher RPE would result in a smaller load progression or simply maintaining the same load. 

This can actually be accomplished in a few ways: 1) You could progress load based upon only the last set RPE of each training session or 2) Progression could occur based upon the average RPE across all sets. Further, if you have an RPE goal or target for the training block, then the lower the actual RPE is, the greater the load increase should be. Below, Tables 4a and 4b demonstrate this progression scheme. For these tables, let’s assume the goal RPE for week 1 is 7-8, and the actual RPE listed in the table is the average RPE per set for the specific training day.

Table 4A: Weekly Progression When RPE is Lower than Target

EXERCISE (WEEK)

MONDAY

WEDNESDAY

FRIDAY

SQUAT (WEEK 1)

3 X 8 w/100kg @5 RPE

4X6 w/110kg @6RPE

5X4 w/120kg @6RPE

SQUAT (WEEK 2)

3 X 8 w/105kg

4X6 w/115kg

5X4 w/125kg

Note: Target RPE in week 1 is 7-8. The average recorded RPEs were 5-6, thus a +5kg change was made.

 

Table 4B: Weekly Progression When RPE is at Target

EXERCISE (WEEK)

MONDAY

WEDNESDAY

FRIDAY

SQUAT (WEEK 1)

3 X 8 w/100kg @7 RPE

4X6 w/110kg @8RPE

5X4 w/120kg @9RPE

SQUAT (WEEK 2)

3 X 8 w/100kg

4X6 w/110kg

5X4 w/120kg

Note: Target RPE in week 1 is 7-8. The average recorded RPEs across the week was 8, thus no change was made.

As you can see, a substantial 5kg increase was made when the average RPE was lower than the target, while no load progression occurred when the average RPE was right on (or slightly above) the target. It must also be noted that you don’t have to increase each individual day by the same amount. For example, if you have different repetitions schemes within a week, as our examples do, then a lifter who is better at high volume work may record low RPEs on the high rep days and high RPEs on the low rep days. In this case, you can increase load differentially across the days, and RPEs should even out in the following weeks. Table 5 illustrates this.

Table 5: Progressing Days of the Week Differently

EXERCISE (WEEK)

MONDAY

WEDNESDAY

FRIDAY

SQUAT (WEEK 1)

3 X 8 w/100kg @5 RPE

4X6 w/110kg @7RPE

5X4 w/120kg @9RPE

SQUAT (WEEK 2)

3 X 8 w/105kg

4X6 w/112.5kg

5X4 w/120kg

Note: Target RPE in week 1 is 8. The average RPEs were markedly different between days, thus each individual day was progressed in accordance with its own RPE.

Positives: On the positive side, RPE not only individualizes week-to-week progression, but it allows for different days within a week to be progressed individually, which is an added benefit over APRE. It is true that simply using RPE as a weekly guide doesn’t take into account daily fatigue, which was also a limitation of APRE. An easy fix for this is to simply use the weekly RPE progression as a guide while also using RPE to help stay within your intended range. For example, if you progress 5kg, and your goal RPE range at the end of each set for the following week is 7-8, and you record a 9 RPE on the first set, then simply decrease the load 5kg to fall within the range (i.e. a 2.5kg change for every 0.5 point off of the goal RPE is a decent guide to altering intra-session load).

Negatives: The clear negative of this strategy it is that it is assuming a lifter is providing accurate RPEs. We know that RPE is influenced by training status; experienced lifters are better at gauging RPE than novice lifters (5). However, experience is not a guarantee that RPEs are accurate. An underestimation of RPE – such as a lifter recording a 6 when it was, in fact, an 8 – would cause too aggressive of a load increase and possibly lead to missed repetitions. Therefore, using RPE to progress load should only be implemented if the lifter is good at providing RPEs. Beginner and some intermediate lifters will not be able to utilize this strategy effectively. However, as a coach, I would still highly recommend that you ask your inexperienced lifters to record RPE, even if you don’t use it to dictate load for a while. If someone is going to improve their skill using RPE, then they have to practice with it. If a lifter records an RPE and takes a video of that set, then the coach can watch the set and assign their own RPE and compare the lifter’s and coach’s perceptions. Eventually, as the RPEs become more accurate, then they can be used to assign or progress training load. However, recording inaccurate RPEs is still possible (even in trained lifters), which could result in inappropriate load progression.

Final Word: Load progression with RPE has distinct advantages in that it individualizes progression not only for the lifter but also across different days of the week (if different repetition zones are used within a week); however, this strategy is predicated on the lifter providing accurate RPE values.

Summary, Further Thoughts, and Takeaways

In summary, there are various valid ways to progress weekly training load. While an arbitrary progression has obvious limitations, it may keep a novice lifter from progressing too quickly. Both APRE and RPE individualize progress; however, APRE is only progressing load based upon one set, and the usefulness of RPE is contingent on the lifter recording accurate ones.

In reality, the strategies presented above are not mutually exclusive (as is the case with most training concepts), and can easily be integrated into other autoregulation strategies. For example, you can progress week-to-week arbitrarily by 2.5kg; however, you can also set RPE target zones and then adjust intra-session load up or down to stay within the target zone if necessary.

Ultimately, this article was about weekly progression. However, it must be stated that you will not progress load every single week. This is just a fact. Some weeks, you may repeat the same load if your progression scheme doesn’t call for an increase. In that case, you may decide to add an extra set, or – as you are accumulating volume – you may decide to add an extra rep. Just remember that if you progress load and it’s too heavy, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with repeating the same load two weeks in a row. Do you want to repeat the same load all the time? No, of course not. But keep things in perspective. If you have gone through two consecutive training blocks in which load progressed each week and you added 10kg to your total each block, then you are probably due for a block in which progress stalls. In that case, don’t force progression. Rather, be disciplined and understand that the strategies laid out above will still work, but that it’s a long-term game. Don’t let frustration get the better of you. Consistent effort will lead to consistent progress, even if that progress isn’t every single week.

References

  1. Hubal MJ, Gordish-Dressman HE, Thompson PD, Price TB, Hoffman EP, Angelopoulos TJ, Gordon PM, Moyna NM, Pescatello LS, Visich PS, Zoeller RF. Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2005 Jun 1;37(6):964-72.
  2. González-Badillo JJ, Gorostiaga EM, Arellano R, Izquierdo M. Moderate resistance training volume produces more favorable strength gains than high or low volumes during a short-term training cycle. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2005 Aug 1;19(3):689-97.
  3. Amirthalingam T, Mavros Y, Wilson GC, Clarke JL, Mitchell L, Hackett DA. Effects of a Modified German Volume Training Program on Muscular Hypertrophy and Strength. Journal of strength and conditioning research. 2016 Nov.
  4. Mann JB, Thyfault JP, Ivey PA, Sayers SP. The effect of autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise vs. linear periodization on strength improvement in college athletes. The Journal of strength & conditioning research. 2010 Jul 1;24(7):1718-23.
  5. Zourdos MC, Klemp A, Dolan C, Quiles JM, Schau KA, Jo E, Helms E, Esgro B, Duncan S, Merino SG, Blanco R. Novel resistance training–specific rating of perceived exertion scale measuring repetitions in reserve. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2016 Jan 1;30(1):267-75.

 

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40 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Load Progression Strategy”

  1. You say that it is fine if load doesn’t go up from week to week, and I guess it makes sense… At least on some level.

    Reading this, I’m thinking of the Principle of Progressive Overload states that each workout must be harder than the one it preceded. So each 4×8 should be harder than the one before it, right? If you don’t increase the weight, do you add reps, sets or shorten the rest between sets? Or is week-to-week such a short period that it ends up not mattering?

    1. You are essentially right. There are 4 methods for progressive overload: load (weight on bar), volume (essentially how many sets), Frequency (how many days a week you train a lift) and density (how fast you complete a workout so time essentially). Increasing the difficulty of any of these 4 counts as progressive overload. I have also written them in order of relative potency, so load is more overloading than density. In answer to your second question regarding whether every workout must be harder than the previous one to satisfy progressive overload, the easiest way to think about that is in terms of your SRA curve. If you are a n00b you can stress, recover and adapt workout to workout. Therefore every workout should be harder than the previous one until this status changes. If you are so advanced that your SRA spans a month then one month must be harder overall than the previous month. However individual workouts within a month might be easier than the previous workout to satisfy recover and other needs.

    2. Posting this in two parts because my first comment was too long:

      To answer a broader question which you did not ask but implied: can you make tangible progress without increasing load week to week … yes! This is exactly what I do. I primarily manipulate volume. So I add a set to every exercise week to week starting with 3×8 on week1 and finishing on 6×8 on week4. Then I go back to week1 and increase the load by 2.5kg and repeat. When i initially wrote this program I thought I would have to drop the reps every few months, but so far I have not and I am seeing great progress. Obviously this is a slow progression and not optimal some might argue but I am making the best progress I have ever made. I guess it just goes to show some people are more sensitive to volume than load.

  2. Stefan Marinkovic

    what do you think about this scheme

    week 1-
    bench 5×5 @100kg = 2500kg
    so , to meet these requirement in weight, but to vary intensity and volume, i would do it like this

    week 2 –
    bench 4×6 @104kg =2496 kg

    week 3-
    bench 8×3@104kg =2496 (even though we kept the same weight as week 2 but lowered the reps, we increased volume.

    So, from here, you would start another microcycle, but with added weight to each week, and strive to add around 10kg to your total ammount of weight, for example, we had 2500kg to work with, now we can aim for 2520 kg, so for 5×5, that would 100.8kg (we add micro plates to the plate 🙂 )
    What do you think of this scheme??
    Much love from Serbia , i’m a huge fan of your work Dr. Mike, and Greg’s of course

    1. How did you increase volume from week 2 to week 3 if you’re doing the same amount of reps with the same weight?

      1. Stefan Marinkovic

        You increased number of sets. I would actually go out of my way and add week 4 –
        10×3@85kg,
        as a kind of a CNS deload and further motoristic practice

        in my opinion, the best way to proggresive overload is to add another set, no matter the reps, as long as you go close to failure. Ask more if you are interested, I would like to hear your opinion

    1. I just read the article and wondered the same thing…I am enjoying the 5/3/1 program as it keeps me from going too heavy and stalling and I don’t have to figure anything out on my own.

  3. Im still really confused about the RPE and RIR. (Part 3) The first two I have used before in my training. Im not quite sure Im understanding the third example.

    Could you elaborate in layman’s terms for me? I don’t science too well lol.

  4. Hey Greg, nice article, I’ve been following your site since a while and it’s amazing, thanks for all these work!! I have a question not much related with this specific topic but anyway, here I go, can you please name just another’s scientific journals other than the journal of strength and conditioning research???

    1. Sure! These are the ones I check at the start of each month:

      American Journal of Sports Medicine

      Journal of Physiology

      Sports Medicine

      British Journal of Sports Medicine

      Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews

      Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

      International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology

      International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

      Journal of Applied Physiology

      Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport

      Psychology of Sport and Exercise

      Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

      Journal of Biomechanics

      Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

      Journal of Sports Sciences

      Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports

      European Journal of Applied Physiology

      International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

      Clinical Biomechanics

      Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism

      Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology

      Research in Sports Medicine

      Sport Psychologist

      Frontiers

      PeerJ Anatomy and Physiology

      Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

      Exercise Immunology Review

      Human Movement Science

      International Journal of Sports Medicine

      Journal of Athletic Training

      Muscle & Nerve

      THE JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE AND PHYSICAL FITNESS

      Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

      Journal of Experimental Biology

      Acta Physiologica

      European Journal of Sport Science

      American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

      American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

      American Journal of Sports Science & Medicine

      Asian Journal of Sports Medicine

      Biology of Sport

      Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

      Cell Metabolism

      Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine

      Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging

      Endocrinology & Metabolism

      Experimental Gerontology

      Physiological Reports

      Experimental Physiology

      FASEB

      International Journal of Applied Exercise Physiology

      International Journal of Applied Sports Sciences

      International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science

      International Journal of Sport & Health Science

      International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching

      International Journal of Sports Sciences & Fitness

      Isokinetics and Exercise Science

      Journal of Anatomy

      Journal of Applied Biomechanics

      Journal of Athletic Enhancement

      Journal of Australian Strength & Conditioning

      Journal of Exercise Physiology

      Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness

      Journal of Exercise, Sports & Orthopedics

      Journal of Fitness Research

      Journal of Human Kinetics

      Journal of Muscle Research and Cell Motility

      Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions

      Journal of Musculoskeletal Research

      Journal of Sport & Health Science

      Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies

      Journal of Trainology

      Modern Athlete & Coach

      Montenegrin Journal of Sports Science and Medicine

      Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal

      Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine

      Physiology & Behavior

      Science & Sports

      South African Journal of Sports Medicine

      Sport Science Review

      Sport Sciences for Health

      Sports – Open Access Journal

      Sports Biomechanics

      The Open Sports Sciences Journal

      ACSM Health & Fitness Journal

      Amino Acids

      Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology

      Clinics in Sports Medicine

      Comprehensive Physiology

      Current Sports Medicine Reports

      European Journal of Physiology

      Frontiers in Movement Science and Sport Psychology

      International Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism

      International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport

      Journal of Human Sport & Exercise

      Journal of Motor Behavior

      Journal of Motor Learning and Development

      Journal of Neurophysiology

      Journal of Physical Activity and Health

      Metabolism, Clinical & Experimental

      Motor Control

      New England Journal of Medicine

      Pediatric Exercise Science

      Perceptual and Motor Skills

      Sport Scientific and Practical Aspects

      The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology

      International Journal of Sports Science

      Journal of Amino Acids

      JISSN

      American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

      Annual Review of Nutrition

      Nutrition Reviews

      Advances in nutrition

      Journal of Nutrition

      Proceedings of the Nutrition Society

      Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

      Clinical Nutrition

      Nutrition Journal

      Nutrition and Metabolism

      British Journal of Nutrition

      European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

      Nutrition Research Reviews

      European Journal of Nutrition

      PLOSOne

      PNAS Physiology

  5. How does the progression on the RPE method work when you accurately hit your target RPE of 7-8? Do you keep doing that weight until it’s an RPE of 5-6 and then increase weight, or is there an alternate progression scheme?

  6. What about deloading? Most strength programs call for decreasing the load if the lifter fails to reach the prescribed number of reps?

  7. For strength and conditioning coaches who work with teams who are all required to run the same program, would APRE work best? Since they will only be benching, squatting, and deadlifting once a week, would keeping sets and reps the same, 5×5 or 5×4 for example, week to week and having a plus set at the end to determine how much the load increases each week, work best? I was not sure whether this progression model would be too slow for athletes and if they would respond better to continuously increasing intensities to handle heavier loads such as 5×5 80%, 5×4 82.5%, 5×3 85%, etc.

  8. Greg,

    can you help me understand power? Imagine a boxer who has never touched a weight in his life. You put in on a strength training program, and his strength increases, does increasing his power.

    Power= Force x Velocity

    However, even though his punching power increases from the new level of strength, would the velocity of the punch decrease?

    It doesn’t make sense that strength would decrease velocity, but would body mass reduce it?

  9. Awesome article. I’m, training for max time hangs (rock climbing related), how would you go about applying this to isometric hangs. With lifts, you have a weight and a rep number, for isometric hangs, you have a time, weight (weight belt), and shape/size of grip. Would you treat the time hanging under load the same as rep count and then repeat for the different grip types? The ultimate goal being able to hang bodyweight for longest possible duration on smallest sized grip. OR.. would you suggest a different approach altogether?

    Thanks!!

  10. Learned a lot from this article. In reading this, I realized that I tend to use a sort of mixture of these in my own training. I like to schedule 4-5% increases in load at certain intervals, but only if the criteria is met (prescribed reps are completed).
    Dr. Z never fails to impress.

  11. Greg and Dr.Zourdos , solid article.

    I have trained using all of these methods and, it was spot on. You pointed out a few things that I had not considered! Thank you.

    I did notice that your description of the APRE is a little off though.

    The APRE is actually a 4 set protocol based on the previous weeks load or estimated RM. Let’s say it’s 6 for example.

    It looks like:
    50% Estimated 6RM x 6
    75% Estimated 6RM x6
    100% of projected 6RM x AMRAP
    Adjusted % of projected 6RM x AMRAP

    As an athlete who trained under Coach Mann, I highly agree that the level of excitability is very difficult to maintain week to week. On some days it almost feels crushing. It does however adjust based off of your performance so, it could be argued that there is some degree of autoregulation.

    Honestly, I’m a little biased. Coach has explained some of the ways he’s made alterations to the method to me before, I’ve heard him speak on it at an NSCA conference and I purchased his manual on the APRE in support of the work he does.

  12. Thanks for this interesting post. Are these progression schemes intended for powerlifters or bodybuilders? I do get the sense that these technical considerations will be excessively complicated for most recreational lifters who just want to look good naked.

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