Progression 101

by James Kerrison on February 20, 2009


When I write a customised gym program I expect that it only represents the starting point for an individual. Your first session of any new program should, relatively, be the easiest of the cycle. You may feel at the time that is has whooped your ass but that should only be because it is different to what you had previously been doing.

Now when I see someone two or three weeks into a new program and they are doing exactly as they were the first session it does my head in. Your body will have adapted to the change in stimulus already so that feeling of being whooped you got first session has gone.

You need to progress your output at every possible stage if you are going to get the maximum possible result.
“How do I do that?” Well I’m glad you asked. There are four simple ways to increase the output and intensity of your workouts to ensure you get better results in less time.

1. Increase Weight

Oh really. Seems obvious enough, but the number of people who do the same weight for the same exercises week in and week out would amaze you. There will be a time when your reach the weight limit for a particular exercise and this is when you can use one of the other techniques.

2. Increase Reps

Another blast from Captain Obvious. This technique is the most common at being implemented and is probably overdone at the expense of number 1. When using this technique try to stay within a certain rep range (say 3-5, 8-12, 15-20) so that you are not just adding more and more reps. When you can get the target reps on any exercise bump up the weight, drop the reps and start the cycle again.

3. Decrease Rest

First of all I have to say that in order to decrease your rest periods, you need to know what they are to start with. If you tell me they are 60 seconds and you don’t have a stopwatch, second hand or any other timing device available to you then I’m calling you out. 60 seconds is exactly that. When you actually time it you might find it is quite a bit shorter than you expected. If all you did was decrease the rest between sets (keeping the weight and reps the same) your workouts will be more intense, not to mention,  finished in less time!

4. Exercise Order

This is probably the most overlooked aspect of a program. It is however one of the easiest ways to change the flow and intensity of your workouts. If you only did three exercises (lets say chin ups, deadlifts and dips) there is a possibility of six different exercise orders, all of which will give you a different intensity because they are essentially different workouts.

So there you have it.  Four easy to implement strategies that will keep your workouts at a high octane level for weeks on end.


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