T Nation

How Do I Measure Progress?


I have been doing Chad Waterbury TBT since this year and its now my 2nd time round and close to finishing. I can only train 3 times a week and TBT is ideal for me and I like the variable set & rep progression laid out for me so I don’t have to think about it. I am logging my entries on a spreadsheet and using formulae to work out what to lift to beat my last performance.

The set and rep progression is already laid out in the TBT profile from week 1 - 8. I am having problems determining the figure to beat each time I use a specific exercise.

Say over the 16 weeks I have used Exercise A 5 times where its been used in set/rep ranges of 3x15, 2x8, 3x12 etc. I measure volume as sets x reps x load.

So if I do one week of 3x15 x 10kg = 450
next week (or next time I use same exercise) I might be on a 2x8 rep range, so to beat my “last” performance I have to lift over 28kg which is something I cannot do.

The only thing I can think of is to put the rep range into buckets so that 3x15, 4x5, 2x8 are in the 15-20 bucket & 3x18, 3x15, 4x8 in 45-54 bucket etc. So I should be measuring performance gains of the same exercise based on similar parameters ?

I have searched the web for specific advice on this and its not clear. My s/sheet can retrieve history of my volume (set x reps x load) for each parameter set (sets x reps) so I would like to automate a predicted 2.5% increase correctly.

So if I change to another routine (eg. Waterbury method) I would still like to use any historic ‘volume’ of what I have lifted in TBT to measure or even start the new routine on.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this ?



HI pal,

I have some suggestions for you:

Measuring progress by constantly rotating the paramters is quite difficult.
I am on an undulating scheme which means i manipulate my paramters EACH session.
How do I measure progress?
I remain the same exercises for 4 weeks.Then I do a test session in wich I measure if i have progressed or not.
The test reps are around 8 reps (8RPM) to make a valid result (1rpm is quite neurological related,20 rpm the other wAY)
So before i beginn my cyclus I benched 200 pounds for 7 reps.
Then i started my bench cycle by doin one day 5x5 the next session 4x8,wave session (varying the load with each set),2x15,4x10 etc.for 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks I tested my bench and pressed 200x11.
I progressed.

Or you choose 3 different paramters for one week but remain them for 4-6 weeks.Each week you will see if you progressed.(reps,sets,weight)

Last suggestion would be,if you want to manipulate the paramters more often like i do,that you remain the exercises for lets say 4 weeks.
On the first session with each exercises you write your paramters done.(fex you did 4x10)
then the next weeks,you manipulate the paramters each time.
on the last day of the 4th week,you REPEAT the scheme you started with the first time (4x10) and if you got stronger you also progressed.
Have fun!


thnx for your input. Im trying to stick with TBT Waterbury which has the workouts all mapped out for you, ie. rep / set progression and so dont want to deviate from that. I may do the same exercise 2 weeks in row (as per the plan) and then hit it a few weeks later again possibly under different set/rep parameter.

it seems from your last statement that i should really be comparing the same or similar parameter set.

You can keep your body “off balance” with set and rep changes all the time but if bottom line you are using back squats for sets of ten with 225 and when you come back to sets of 10 you are still using 225 you probably haven’t gained any muscle.

scottiscool - Am following Waterbury’s TBT & so trust the set/rep progression already built in and also enjoy picking my own exercises every time. I do 2 weeks of same exercise (2nd being atagonistic) and then possibly return to same exericse if not used it in a while a few weeks later.

So for a specific exercise i may have done 3x10, 4x8, 2x15, 3x15, 3x12 etc. over time… Perhaps I should either put similar rep ranges together to compare (3x10,4x8,2x15) to monitor progress , or should I be strict and only measure exact set/rep parameter as you stated.

I used TBT when I first started here too. I was able to physically notice progress by looking in the mirror. People were commenting and that was a sort of obvious “progress.” It is a bit hard to measure progress because you are constantly shifting around, BUT you should be able to look back and see some improvements.

For example week 1 workout 1 = 3x5, week 7 workout #2 = 3x8. If you choose one exercise to do the same (say bench press or squat) you should be able to measure progress.

But remember, the first words in the article are " Harbinger Hypertrophy" The goal of this workout is hypertrophy, not strength (although I saw a lot of strength gains when I did it).

A simple way you might be able to measure progress is to take a picture of yourself every month, start weighing yourself every week, or look for stretch marks in your armpits :slight_smile:

I suggest just choosing a few big lifts (eg. squat/deadlift and bench) and recording your progress on those. It would still take a while to get around the same rep range but it’s less hassle than recording every single thing.

or start EDT :wink: