I found this article on Facebook today and it was perfect timing for me! I didn't write it... it was written by Jon-Erik Kawamoto from muscleandfitness.com, but I wanted to share it with you!
Stop stalling your progress in the gym by following these 5 simple rules to firing up your gains.
When progressing your reps, add one rep to each set while keeping the weight and rest periods the same. A common set and rep scheme used for building size and strength is 5x5, made popular by Bill Starr. For example, say you bench press 225 pounds for 5 sets of 5. The next time you do this workout, try to perform 6 reps per set with 225 lb. If your reps end up looking like this: 6, 6, 5, 5, 4, keep working at this weight until you're able to complete all 5 sets of 6. Once you're able to complete 5x6, work your way up to 5x7. This progression works great up to 5 sets of 10.
2. Progress Your Sets
When progressing your sets, add one set to your total while keeping the weight and rest periods the same.
Say you're working on your power clean by doing 3 sets of 3. To progress this exercise, keep the weight and rest periods the same and attempt to be just as explosive in a fourth set. In the next week, try for 5 sets. Depending on what your goals are, this progression works well for up to 8-10 sets of 3.
3. Decrease Your Rest
When decreasing your rest between sets, try to keep the weight and rep/set scheme the same. This increases the difficulty of the exercise as you're challenging your body to recover faster. Using the above example of 5x5, instead of taking 3-min breaks, drop it to 2.5-min break while keeping the weight the same.
4. Tempo Progression
This is an uncommon progression method but works well for conditioning type workouts. Without sacrificing your form, attempt to complete the set faster, using the same weight as the previous workout. The key here is not losing your form for the sake of speed.
For example, if doing a program that calls for a certain number of reps in a given time frame, you would be employing this method of progression from workout to workout.
5. Progress the Weight
The most common method of progressing from one workout to the next uses this principle, however, many trainees do it wrong. The problem isn't the eagerness to move more weight, rather that their form isn't dialed in at the lower weight. For successful results and a lower injury risk, you're better off performing full range of motion reps with a lighter load than performing half sloppy reps with heavier loads. Half reps are great and have their place, but make sure you nail down your form with the full range version first.
Jon-Erik Kawamoto, MSc Kin(c), CSCS, CEP, is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Fitness Writer out of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. He contributes regularly to many major health and fitness magazines and websites and is currently in the middle of a master’s in exercise physiology at Memorial University. Check out more of his work at www.JKConditioning.com.