Wave loading is a simple scheme composed of, get this, waves. Each wave (7/5/3) leverages basic physiology and psychology to get you to add weight to each set of a compound strength exercise – like deadlifts, squats, presses, or rows – to build size and strength.

Each set within the base builds upon the previous – increasing resistance while the number of reps decreases. This stimulates high-threshold muscle fibers and increases training volume while providing both mechanical tension and high-quality training volume.

After each wave is complete, you'll take a longer rest, increase the weights, and repeat the wave, albeit heavier. In the case of 7/5/3 rep schemes, you'll need to limit yourself to two waves or about 30 total reps.

Here's a sample using 7/5/3 waves with a back squat:

Wave One

  • 250x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 260x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 275x3: Rest 60-120 seconds

Wave Two

  • 265x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 275x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 300x3

Your goal in wave loading for building size is to complete two full waves, with the final set on the last wave being close to maximum effort for the given rep range. Once you complete two full waves, it's time to progressively increase your weights, bringing up the submaximal set first and the top-end strength sets next.

Three-Week Sample Cycle

Week One, Wave One

  • 250x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 260x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 275x3: Rest 60-120 seconds

Week One, Wave Two

  • 265x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 275x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 300x3

Week Two, Wave One

  • 260x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 275x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 285x3: Rest 60-120 seconds

Week Two, Wave Two

  • 265x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 285x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 300x3

Week Three, Wave One

  • 265x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 285x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 295x3: Rest 60-120 seconds

Week Three, Wave Two

  • 270x7: Rest 60 seconds
  • 290x5: Rest 60 seconds
  • 305x3

Waves are a fun method to help you manage fatigue while lifting progressively heavier, especially if you're feeling "stuck" with a linear periodization training model.

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