Guarantee Yourself Progress in 2018

Posted by Coalition Nutrition on

Guarantee Yourself Progress in 2018

Starting off the new year, a new training program, or a new diet is always exciting. A positive change in your life is stimulating and gives you hope to a better overall life experience. As your motivation increases, it's important to be able to sustain it. A long time ago we explained how to set yourself up for PR's in a powerlifting meet and psychologically, this is the same technique but over a longer period of time. 

Progression is fun, whether it be physically or intellectually, but on the flip-side, when progression stalls it becomes miserable. Lack of progression in the gym (strength) or in the mirror (physique) can cause you to be lost, depressed, and scurry for answers, only causing more damage. Avoiding a plateau is the best way to ensure progress. 

So how do you ensure progression? You take micro steps toward your goal. In training it's often fun to test your max, however we've always said that testing your max is often counter productive to increasing it. Training is where the progress is made. The more frequently you spend training sessions testing your max, the less you're going to spend increasing it and consequently the more you're going to stall. 

There are a few different ways to constantly progress in the gym. The first way to progress is by adding weight each week. Keep in mind, that if you're in it for the micro-progressions (as you should be) adding weight should be as simple as adding 5lbs a week to the bar. 5lbs each week for 10 weeks is 50lbs! Too often greed will overrule the sound thought of simple progression. While the short term gratification is more evident, long term stall out will happen every time.

Adding weight to the bar isn't the only way to progress though. Simply adding 1 rep is a form of progression as well. This can happen in many different ways. Adding 1 rep to a set, or the overall amount of reps for that movement works. Our favorite form of pull up progression adds 1 pull up total to your day. Meaning if you did 20 pull ups over 4 set attempts in week 1, week 2 you just have to do 21 reps. That extra rep can come in any of the sets and as you get high up on the reps, sometimes an additional set is allowed (more on that later). Progress is progress, however small it may seem at first.

Another way for you to progress is by speed. Speed variations can come in two ways. The first way is by physically moving the weight quicker. With this variation, you want to be sure not to lose form

and keep constant tension on the muscles trained as the idea is to get stronger, not injure yourself. Focusing on speed can build strength as it trains the mind to "fire" and build explosive power. Measuring speed can be difficult but there are some apps out there that are good enough for reference purposes. Another way speed can be used as a progression is by reducing rest time. If you bench 225 for 5 sets of 5 with 2 minute rest and slowly reduce rest over a month to 1 minute, that is progress. *Decreased rest times and increased activity is something often practiced during cutting phases. 

Not feeling it one day?

Ever go to the gym and feel sick, tired, and just not feeling 100%? That's okay and quite normal. If you're lifting throughout a year, you're bound to have days where peak performance is far out of sight. Days like that require you to push yourself in a different way. If you normally add 5 pounds each week, instead spend some time with lighter weight and move quickly throughout your workout. This allows your to continue to push yourself but not ruin your progress by not reaching your goal numbers. 

Reminder: 

Progress comes by putting one foot in front of another, not by taking giant leaps and getting stuck in the mud. Most of these progression techniques require you to have a plan - to know what you're supposed to be doing prior to entering the gym. 

Sample Weight Increase Progression 1:

Current Max Bench - 300lbs - 

Week 1: 200lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 2: 205lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 3: 210lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 4: 215lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 5: 220lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 6: 225lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 7: 230lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 8: 235lbs - 4 sets - max reps (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 9: (reset week) 205lbs - 4 sets - max reps - BEAT the total reps from last time you did 210lbs! (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 10: 210bs - 4 sets - max reps - BEAT the total reps from last time you did 210lbs! (record total number of reps for all 4 sets)

Week 11: and so forth...

Note: The purpose of the reset is that you're actually starting out 5lbs heavier than the first 8 week progression, which means you'll end up 5lbs heavier after the next 8 weeks. Doing this for a few months can gain some good size as well as strength. You could do this in 10 week periods or 12 weeks periods if you wanted to touch some heavier weight as well. This is just an example template and can be manipulated according to your goals, but remember to set yourself up for constant progress. Most people see the greatest strength gains from training in the 70%-88% of your 1 rep max range. 

Sample Rep Progression 1:

If there is a movement that you want to increase volume on, this may be the best way to do it. Preferably this is used for a lot of accessory work, especially if the overall weight is difficult to constantly increase (curls, isolation shoulder work)

Example Lift: 45 Degree Shoulder Raises - 20lbs

Week 1: 3 Sets of 10 reps each - (1.5 min rest) 

Week 2: 3 Sets of 11 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 3: 3 Sets of 12 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 4: 3 Sets of 13 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 5: 3 sets of 14 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 6: 3 sets of 15 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 7: 4 sets of 10 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 8: 4 sets of 11 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 9: 4 sets of 12 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 10: 4 sets of 13 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 11: 4 sets of 14 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

Week 12: 4 sets of 15 reps each - (1.5 min rest)

The week 7 switch to 4 sets, although reverting back to 10 reps, is actually similar tonnage (total weight moved) to 3 sets of 15. This is a simple way to progress before adding more weight and of course you can take it further than 15 reps if you wanted to extend it out. 

Integrating these two progression types for compound movements, accessory movements, strength training or hypertrophy training is a guaranteed way to progress every time you step in the gym. 


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