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How to Increase Weight and Reps

March 28, 2013 | Robert Taylor

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The most important component of successful training is an unremitting desire for progress.  Athletes and coaches sometimes become frustrated by lack of gains that their program delivers. This leads to the search for magical solutions, such as unconventional exercises, supplements or gimmicky equipment.

Constantly changing your program, or following complicated and chaotic methods will not yield the best results. An exercise may seem difficult or advanced, but that does not guarantee increased strength gains. You need to stick to methods that are proven to work, and follow a scheduled plan to achieve your goals.

Fortunately, the solution to your training woes is right under your nose. You can stick to tried and true exercises, but you need to change your sets, repetitions and speed of movement to continue challenging your muscles.

Muscles are not that smart. They do not have “eyeballs” that allow them to see a program, or if the resistance comes from a machine or barbell. The body changes by a force of will.  Strength training must be challenging and progressive.

The most efficient way to challenge your muscles and make gains is with the double-progressive method of overload.  Try to increase the weight or reps you do on an exercise every workout . Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify a repetition range for each exercise. For sake of illustration, we'll choose 8-12.
  2. If you can complete fewer than eight reps with good form, move the weight down 5-10 pounds.
  3. If you can complete 8-11 reps, keep the weight the same but try to add at least one rep to the next set or workout.
  4. When you can complete 12 or more reps, add a small amount of resistance and reset your rep goal back to eight.

Remember that every rep is critical. You need to make every inch count, so don’t cheat yourself by using momentum. If you can’t perform a complete rep with perfect form, then that rep doesn’t count towards your set.

In the short run you are trying to add reps. In the long run you are trying to add weight.  Small increases over time will help you achieve your goals.  Ultimately, you will determine your own results.

Watch this SMARTER Team Training video for a further explanation of the concept.

Learn more principles for your workouts through STACK's Weightlifting Guide.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
Robert Taylor
- Robert Taylor is the founder and owner of SMARTER Team Training. He has served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Loyola University Maryland;...
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