Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Add wave loading to your training program to add variety and build strength.

If you want to get stronger, you have to train with heavy weights. Generally this means 3-5 sets of 1-8 reps with 85 percent of your max and above. But straight sets like this can get monotonous. If you're looking for a little variety, wave loading is a way to shock your system and provide some variety for long-term strength development.

With wave loading, you increase he weight over three sets, then drop it down for the fourth set but keep it higher than the first set. You then increase the weight for two more sets, each higher than its corresponding set on the first wave. Advanced athletes may use a third wave in their training, which will be heavier than the first two.

See the example below and notice that the second wave (sets 4-6) are heavier than the first.

First Wave

  • Set 1: 80%
  • Set 2: 85%
  • Set 3: 90%

Second Wave

  • Set 4: 82.5%
  • Set 5: 87.5%
  • Set 6: 92.5%

Now, here are a few guidelines to keep this safe and effective:

  • Use Wave Loading only four weeks at a time. After that, take at least 12 weeks off before attempting it again.
  • Use this on only one exercise in a training session.
  • You have to compensate. This means that the rest of your exercises need to be reduced in volume.
  • You still need to observe good technique on the exercises.
  • If you are going to use this, it's not a good time to introduce other new exercises or modes of training. For example, if you haven't been sprinting, don't start when you introduce Wave Loading.

Sample Wave Loading Training Program

Below is a sample 12-week program incorporating wave load training. The first four weeks show what training looked like before Wave Loading was incorporated. Weeks 5-8 involve Wave Loading. The training then changes to all heavy strength training, performed three times per week. The final four weeks are very power-oriented.

Weeks 1-4

Monday

  • Back Squats: 3x6-10@80-90%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x6-10
  • Bench Press: 3x6-10@80-90%
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x6-10
  • Military Press: 3x6-10

Tuesday

  • Power Snatch: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Kettlebell Pulls: 3x6-10

Wednesday

  • Off

Thursday

  • Front Squats: 3x6-10@70-80%
  • Split Squats: 3x6-10@30% of Back Squat each leg
  • Lunges: 3x8-12 each leg
  • Good Mornings: 3x8-12
  • Reverse Hyperextensions: 3x15-20

Friday

  • Incline Press: 3x8-12
  • Dips: 3x15-20
  • Pull-Ups: 3xMax
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3x8-12
  • Superset: biceps/triceps: 3x12-15 each

Weeks 5-8

Monday

  • Back Squats (wave): 1x8-10@80%, 1x6-8@85%, 1x3-6@90%; 1x 6-10@82.5%, 1x3-6@87.5%
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3x6-10
  • Incline Press: 3x6-10
  • Bent-Over Rows: 3x6-10
  • Military Press: 3x6-10

Tuesday

  • Power Snatch: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Power Clean: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Kettlebell Pulls: 3x6-10

Wednesday

  • Off

Thursday

  • Split Clean: 3x3-6@60-70% each leg
  • Clean Pulls: 3x3-6@70-80%
  • Front Squats: 3x6-10@70-80%
  • Good Mornings: 3x6-10

Friday

  • Power Snatch: 3x3-6@60-70%
  • Snatch Pulls: 3x3-6@70-80%
  • Bench Press (wave): 1x8-10@80%, 1x6-8@85%, 1x3-6@90%; 1x 6-10@82.5%, 1x3-6@87.5%
  • Pull-ups: 3x8-12

Weeks 9-12

Monday

  • Snatch Pull + Power Snatch: 3x3-6+2-3@60-70%
  • Back Squats + Vertical Jumps: 3x3-6@85-90% + 5 jumps
  • Back Raises 3x12-15
  • Bench Press + Medicine Ball Throws: 3x3-6@85-90% + 5 Throws
  • Bent-Over Rows + Medicine Ball Throws: 3x3-6 + 5 Throws

Tuesday

  • Off

Wednesday

  • Power Clean + Front Squat: 3x3-6+4-8@60-70% of Power Clean
  • Romanian Deadlift + Standing Long Jump: 3x3-6+5 Jumps
  • Eccentric Bench Press + Clapping Push-Ups: 3x3-6@70-80% of Bench Press + 10 Push-Ups
  • Pull-ups: 3xMax

Thursday

  • Off

Friday

  • Eccentric Squat + Squat Jumps: 3x3-6@70-80% + 5 Jumps
  • Good Mornings + Kettlebell Swings: 3x6-10 + 10 Swings
  • Floor Press + Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 3x3-6+5 Throws
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3x8-12 each arm
Read more about wave loading.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

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