Progressive overload is not just max weights


When should you add weight to the bar?

This morning I started the week with some Bench Pressing.

I took two weeks off from benching so I was curious to see how my lifting would go.

It didn't take long for me to realize I wouldn't be able to bench what I was a few weeks ago.

My shoulder and elbow were "talking to me"...  so I played it smart and kept the weight moderate and only did a few work sets.

As the saying goes "you live to fight another day".

Years ago I would have pushed through the pain, ended up doing more damage, leading to a setback that may take months to recover from.

Older and wiser now that I'm almost 40? haha

More Sets and Less Reps

After I completed my moderate bench press training, I decided to do some Snatch-grip Romanian Deadlifts.

These were feeling GREAT as I warmed up, adding weight each set.

I worked up to a decent weight which was challenging but nowhere near maximal.

The options were to go for higher reps and a few sets (3x8-10) OR more sets and less reps (5x5).

Rolling along with my intuitive training approach I went with what felt right: the 5x5.

More sets and less reps is a great way to get in a good amount of volume without having a ton of soreness the next day.

Doing sets of 8-12 reps will make my hamstrings much more sore than doing the 5x5 with moderate weight.

Next time I do these, my options are:

-add weight (5-10 lbs. per set)

-add another set or two (6 or 7 sets of 5)

-add another rep per set (5 sets of 6 reps)

Basic progressive overload is all about adding more weight to the bar each time you lift. It's been proven to work for many years and always will.

That being said, its not the ONLY way to get stronger, improve performance, grow, adapt, evolve, build muscle..

At this point in my strength journey, I am not as interested in MAX numbers as I once was.

Especially because when I train with very heavy weights (for me) for too long, my joints start breaking down.

Since my training is all about STRENGTH FOR LIFE, being hurt and not able to do daily tasks is not optimal.


Strength training is one of the fundamentals in all my programming. That's not where it ends though.

There's cardio/aerobic work. Mobility/stretching. Walking. Short bursts of high-intensity conditioning.

I want to be able to do anything I'm called to do in life.

Helping a friend move, hiking a mountain, hours of yard work, obstacle course races, pushing a car out of a snowbank, carrying heavy weight for distance, lifting a couch etc..

My training has been evolving more towards what I consider "tactical training" which is closer to military training than it is powerlifting or bodybuilding.

That's the path my journey is taking me.

You have to find your own path.

Always include Strength Training, cardio, conditioning, mobility work, a lot of movement and fuel for a strong life.

The program can change. Your focus can shift. But the basic fundamentals will always remain the same.

Strong for life.


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