One of the most common questions I get is what to do when progress begins to slow or stalls completely during a training cycle.
One of the pillars of the Evolved Program (and my programming philosophy in general) is to have certain “metric-based movements” that repeat week to week throughout the cycle.
This is a vital component of “training,” as it keeps you accountable by providing weekly checkpoints to ensure the program is working.
If the primary movements are no longer progressing, there could be a number of reasons:
- You began the strength progressions with weights that are too heavy
- It is crucial to begin any cycle with sub-maximal loads for the rep target. The goal is to succeed without doubt for the first 4-5 weeks of the cycle. You will enter the gym with the confidence that you can add weight to the bar and achieve the rep number with room to spare.
- Lighter starting weights allow you to build momentum and prime the Central Nervous System for the movement pattern and loading mechanism.
- Make sure to check your bio-markers of health (the way you feel throughout the day and during your training sessions)
- Do have energy throughout the day?
- Do you feel clear-headed and focused?
- Are you sleeping 8 hours a night?
- Is your nutrition on point?
- How are your stress levels?
- Do you have a DESIRE to train as opposed to feeling obligated?
If all the above factors are in check, there are a couple tricks that I often use to continue progress. These are detailed below with a few different examples for different rep schemes.
Rep Scheme = Decreasing Reps, such as 12-10-8-6 (increasing weight)
This is a very typical “pyramid” style rep approach.
- Focus primarily on increasing just the HEAVIEST set (the set of 6 reps). Don’t even worry about trying to increase the “build-up” sets until the disparity between the 8-rep and 6-rep set is so large that you feel you need to increase the 8-rep set as a means of ensuring the 6-rep load isn’t a shock to the system.
- Double-Progression Method – This means that you will stick with the SAME WEIGHT as the prior week for the 6-rep set and strive to increase a rep. Once the 6-rep set can achieve 8-reps, you will be prepared and feel confident adding weight and starting back at 6-reps (then working your way back up to 8 reps, etc…)
- Take Initiative – If both the above methods fail over the course of a couple weeks, it is time to decrease the reps across all sets. This works EXTREMELY well to keep progress going. Literally just take the rep scheme and change it to 10-8-6-4. Now the weight you were using for 6 reps is only performed for 4 reps. Essentially, this acts as a “mini deload” week and you can continue progressing the following week with the lower rep targets.
Rep Scheme = Straight Sets such as:
3 x 4-6 OR 3 x 5-7 OR 3 x 6-8 OR 3 x 8-10 etc…
Applies to any rep scheme that involves multiple sets of the same weight for the same number of reps
- Increase JUST the FIRST set of the sequence. You are the most fresh on the first set, so try to add weight to the first set. Then stick with the lower weight for the next two sets. The following week, try to achieve TWO sets at the heavier weight and one set at the lighter weight.
- Double-Progression Method – Same as above, working within the ranges provided. Work your way slowly to the top of the range for all sets, then add load and start back at the bottom of the range.
- Reduce Reps – Much like the “take initiative” section from above, sometimes you are just stuck, but by lowering the reps for ALL SETS, you can keep the progress going for a few more weeks.
- Reduce the total SET LOAD – This is a tricky one, because you want to be able to get enough stimulus. Ultimately, some movements are just more taxing than others. We have all reached a point on a heavy Back Squat where we do one set, and it’s soul-crushingly difficult. At this point, it’s damn near impossible to get mentally amped up to do it over again. This is a time when doing just ONE TOP SET is a sufficient stimulus and anything beyond this would be overkill. Self-awareness is key.
There are many different kinds of rep scheme and loading parameters. These methods are considered “Linear Periodization,” and it is one of the simplest, most effective, and proven approaches. In future Evolved training cycles, we will utilize Undulating Periodization, Wave Loading, and some other more intricate methods.
Both of the Evolved Training programs have a private Facebook group for the members. Through this avenue, I am able to provide some very individualized feedback to help you on your fitness journey.
Each program is only $29 per month. Through the Facebook forum, members are able to get personalized attention equivalent to what you would receive with the individualized coaching plans that are $250 per month.
I hope to be able to help you on your journey; to find the balance that you need to succeed in your fitness goals; to live a life full of vitality; to gain strength; to feel more confident in your skin; to provide a community of other like-minded individuals.
Yours in all things Fitness,
Evolved Training Systems