T Nation

Adding Weight to the Bar


What approach do you guys find is best for getting stronger on a lift?

Do you just stick with the same weight i.e 315lbs and keep using it until you can go from 2 reps to 10 reps with it?

Or do you use 315lb one week for going heavy and then a lighter weight the next week for higher reps?

Are there any other methods that have worked well for you?


Im not one of the "strong dudes" in these forums, but I notice I get stronger when I stick with the same weight until I can go beyond the repetition range. For example, if you can barbell curl 100 pounds for 10 reps, and your rep range for that exercise is 10-12, then once you can get 13 reps, increase the weight.

I find that your body has to get used to a weight before you can increase it. If you try to increase weight when your body isn't ready, you'll be asking for injury.


I wouldn't go from 2-10. But I'd rock XXX@6 until i got XXX@10/12. Then add weight and rinse and repeat.


2 reps to 10 reps is going to take one hell of a long time, if that's all you are doing for a particular lift. Of course it would work, and you'd be much bigger, but I think a far more efficient way is to simply work within a range of sets and/or reps adding weight and staying within that range.

Dc uses 3 rest-pause sets, but you could do single sets or perhaps even something more "standard" like 3 x 10 which might look like this:

1st, 2nd and 3rd sets with a fixed weight, maybe 8, 6, 4.

Next session: 9, 7, 4


Working within a range is the quickest way ot produce results IME as you can be pretty aggressive with the load increments.


I'm a beginner and probably far less developed than all of you and it may not apply to intermediate/advanced, guy, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Having a detailed training log for every one of my workout, (exercise, set, rep, mood, energy level, workout duration etc.) and taking the time to look at it for maybe a 10-15 minutes before hitting the gym helped a lot.

Doing the "same" routine while trying to beat the training book did produce far better results for me.


Thanks for the input once again dave.

I haven't really ever tried using the 1.25kg plates and sticking with the same rep ranges each week, so I'm really tempted to give it a shot.

I was thinking of trying something like this:

Week 1: 1-5 reps
Week 2: 6-10 reps
Week 3: 1-5 reps
Week 4: 6-10 reps
Week 5: deload if necassery?
Week 6: repeat


Well the question I'm asking is 'how do you guys beat your previous lifts?'

I ALWAYS try 110% to do more than the last workout. But trying to keep the same weight and trying to do more reps sometimes makes me wonder If I'm ever going to progress.

It usually takes a month or two of sticking at the same reps to get another one.


I allways just plan out what Im doing
eg;My squat Im doing 100kg 4x8 but I know I could do 120 4x8,Ive allways got reps "in the bag" and I just add a certain amount every month knowing I can still do 8 reps at the higher weight.
If your looking to get good at a particular lift (Ive never tried it but I can see the logic) is "greasing the groove",where you lift a heavy weight yet just managable weight eg 140kg for 6 reps once every hour for like 8 hours;one day a week then increase the weight.As you can imagine tho you would have to work at home or in the gym to do this.
Ive had good gains from doing cluster sets (do a heavy rep "rack up" 10 second break do another rep 4x4 )theres loads of ways there all different,but all work.


I don't really know, as nowadays I mostly use fractional plates of 0.5 kg, so that I can adjust the load by 1 kg. It works well with deadlifts, presses, and heavy excersises. For me it's easier to go to 6 reps with for instance 171 kg on deads, than go for 7 reps with 170. My endurance sucks though :slightly_smiling:


I like to start toward the high end of my rep range, lets say 6-12 and make small weight increases each week and fight to keep the reps as high as possible for as long as possible. When after a couple months or so your hitting the low end of your rep range (using alot more weight by this point) thats when I'll keep the same weight and try to increase reps again. Then its small weight increases again until I'm at the bottom and so on...


There are many ways.

For a beginner, as strength gains can be very fast -- sometimes say 5% a week for sustained periods -- it is entirely workable to add a rep per week until reaching some figure, then adding weight and building reps back up again. As noted, this shouldn't be to an extreme such as down to 2 reps.

Those who have already increased their strength greatly from their starting point are not generally going to see sustained strength increases as fast as 2-5% per week, which is what an added rep typically represents.

There are many methods.

There is a lot to be said for periodization: that is to say, not training at the same percent 1RM all the time, but in a programmed plan.

For example, if following the Wendler 5-3-1 plan, week 1 works up to 77% 1RM (if not employing the arithmetical gymnastics), week 2 works up to 81%, week 3 works up to 86%, and week 4 is a deload week.

Then next time around some modest weight is added. Or in other words, weight is added per 4 weeks, not per 1 week, but every workout is heavier than the last workout that was at the same percent 1RM.

Or another example, I used to follow a progression from Scott Warman where training cycles started at 60% 1RM for 2 sets of 9 in each exercise, and added 5% 1RM each week till ending at 2 sets of 3 at 90%. The nominal 1RM (used for calculations) would then go up for the next cycle. Again, each workout is at differing percent 1RM, and that weight is always heavier than the last time that percentage was used.

Or presently I follow a system where an Excel spreadsheet has a column (call it A) for starting 1RM's or values used for such that were correct at a point a while back, then a column B which originally was simply a copy of Column A but is allowed to be tweaked as appropriate though not to values less than in A.

There is a cell for the number of weeks into the program, the multiple of increase aimed for per week (I am using 1.008), and that increase raised to the power of the number of weeks. So for example, 10 weeks later, that cell will have the value of about 1.08 (actually 1.083 due to compounding). That actually is a very aggressive rate. Matching it is good success.

A column C then has the Column B figures multiplied by this planned strength increase, for each percent 1RM I might want to do.

I can then do any workout program, changing on the fly if need be, with weights that increase slightly with time.

Yes, this requires actually writing things down and planning, and I know that many have gotten big and strong with no writing or planning and don't want to do any. But if dealing with the question of how to add weights when strength isn't increasing as fast as 1 rep per week or 5 lb per week, then these ways which do involve planning and writing can be very useful.


I never use fractional plates or anything less than a 10lb plate.

For most of my exercises I work up to one top set of 6-10 reps. Once I can get 10, then I can add at least 20lbs to the bar and still get ~6 reps and be able to work with it.

The exceptions would be dumbbells (eg: lateral raises, concentration curls), and small cable movements/prehabilitory movements like YTW circuits and rotator cuff exercises.


I start with whatever weight will get me 7 reps, then add reps until I hit 10, then bump up the weight enough to get 7 reps again. Rinse and repeat.


I just started doing this a few weeks ago so not sure how its working yet. So what I do is:

Start with a weight I can hit for 3-4 reps.
Use it until I can get 6-7 reps, then add 5 lbs to the bar and start over.
If I don't succeed on either adding weight or hitting more reps, I'll do a dropset and work until failure. Kind of like a punishment for not getting my reps or weight up.


i train each part 2x /wk

so 1 is heavy

1 is light


I do something a little more simple, rep scheme wise:

Week 1: 4 sets 4 reps, 1010 tempo - 75%-85% of MAX
Week 2: 3 sets 6 reps 30X1 tempo - 65%-70% of MAX
Week 3: 3 sets 10 reps 1010 tempo - As heavy as Possible w/out sacrificing form.

Keep in mind this is what has given me the most gains so far... For ME and MY GOALS(size and strength). I don't Exceed 10 reps because I personally do not respond well to high(10+) reps.

Every third week(4x4 week) I up the weight, and since the weight is going down on the 2nd and 3rd weeks, It mimics weight cycling. Today I upped the weight 5 lbs on the bench and got 240 up for 4 sets of 4 but it felt really light. Last set i did 6 reps just because I felt that I could.