Tip: Make Progress Without Adding Weight

These alternative ways to track progress provide variety, insight, and results. Check 'em out.

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Progression is Misunderstood

"Progression" is both the most necessary component of training and also the most misunderstood. Many people assume that progression in strength training is only measured by adding weight to the bar. They forget that there are numerous ways to increase the difficulty of a workout.

The more experienced we are, the more important it is to employ as many of these methods as possible. The idea of "do more and do it heavier" will only carry a lifter so far before hitting a plateau that will take extra time and energy to work past. Instead of only adding weight to the bar, try these other result-producing progression tactics.

Other Progression Tactics

  • Rest less between sets
  • Use greater range of motion
  • Introduce short pauses at or near sticking points
  • Use better, more strict technique (knee tracking, neutral spine, etc.)
  • Use less "psyche up" on heavy lifts
  • Use less supportive gear (belts, wraps, etc.)
  • Train alone or with no music
  • Use fewer warm-up sets than usual
  • Work harder than usual on warm-ups (pre-exhaustion)

Obviously don't add too many methods in every workout, but choose a few new ways to progress, work on them for a few weeks, and then rotate to something else. Even focusing on just one unfamiliar approach for a period of time can spark new results.

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook