T Nation

How to Properly Progress Weight & Reps?

Every time I up the weight and my reps drop, the question pops into my mind - am I doing more than last time or is it the same effort? Let’s say one week I did 220 lbs for 5 reps, the next I do 230 lbs for 3 reps. Did my strength increase or did I just sacrifice reps for more weight on the bar? Obviously, I’m trying to push the reps up over time, so that once I hit 230 for 5 it’s an improvement over 220 for 5 from the last time but the 2-3 week window really makes me wonder whether I’m running in place or not.

I am running Hepburn method atm and I only add a rep a week to main movements. Eventually, you’ll be stronger and not worry about these types of things. Just keep doing what you’re doing and progress

After nearly 30 years of bodybuilding training, it wasn’t until I started 5/3/1 that I felt I was really in control over weight and rep progression. Before it was something that happened of its own accord, by chance rather than design. Too much copyng professional bodybuilders doing every exercise under the sun. Sure it works to some degree but just as often it lead to overtraining and or injury, or at the very least a stall in progress.

5/3/1 simplified training, you hit the desired weight and reps, because you are training within your ability at the moment, really owning it… back off…then slightly increase the weight and start again. You don’t work close to your absolute limits all the time, so you adapt properly. Hypertrophy is increased from accessory exercises.
Because the accessory exercises are not mandatory you can skip them occasionally if time is short or if you are not feeling it that day.
A lot of common sense, training smart(and hard), rather than just hard all the time.


Think about it logically. If you had to progress the overall amount you lifted every session (that is, by multiplying weight lifted by reps), you’d hit gargantuan and unsustainable levels of volume pretty quickly.

Of you’re lifting a heavier weight than you have before, that’s progress. If you’re hitting more reps on a particular weight than you have before, that’s also progress.

I think following a program like 5/3/1 would definitely be appropriate for you so long as you stick to it and don’t second guess the methods.