T Nation

Low Volume to High Volume Approach


Typically with barbell strength training, one is instructed to try and incrementally add weight each session via 5 and 10 lb plates. In a busy gym this can be a pain in the ass so I was thinking of a way to progress without adding weight each time. I thought instead of sticking with low reps and adding weight, stick with the same weight but gradually add reps until your volume has doubled.
For example say you can bench 225 for 5x5 with 2 mins rest. Rather than jumping 10lbs next session you instead add a rep to the first set. Keep doing this until you get 5x10, doubling your volume with the same weight/rest times. At this point you should be ready to add 50lbs to the bar and work up again. I suppose you can apply this to dumbbells and assistance exercises as well, so long as you end up doubling your volume.


Yes that is one of the many forms of progression, it most probably won’t transfer to an extra 50lb on the bar though but you will get stronger.

Another way would be to shorten your rest periods, also play with tempo. Many variables as well as just weight.


Drop the ‘0’ and you have yourself a reasonable strategy.


Only on the internet.


If you have worked up from 5 x 5 to 5 x 10 you should be able to add 10% of the initial weight when you go back to 5 x 5.


According to whom? What is assertion based on?


Well, let’s say you used 80% 1RM for the initial 5 x 5. When you get to 5 x 10, the initial weight is obviously less than 80% now, probably something like 70%. That would make your estimated 1RM go up by about 14%, which means that adding 10% of the initial weight to the initial weight would only be about 77% now. Obviously these are just estimations, but you can see that adding 10% is very reasonable.


You are making a number of assumptions that will obviously break down at some point (otherwise people would be able to progress to where they were eventually benching 2000+ pounds).

I don’t have a particularly strong objection to employing a ‘10% increase’ rule of thumb. I just happen to think progression is better served by using somewhat smaller increments, as well as increments that are less rigidly tied to a given percentage of the starting weight. But obviously YMMV.

And I definitely think an increase of 5# on a 225# bar would be more productive than the 50# jump mentioned in the OP.


Well, obviously working up from 5 x 5 to 5 x 10 would take a lot of time (on a 225 bar, I would suggest adding 20 lb and working back up), and obviously you won’t be able to repeat the process forever, but that would apply to any form of progression. Adding reps before eventually adding weight is a well-established form of progression (double progression), though personally I would suggest adding smaller increments (like you) after adding just 2 reps.


Wouldn’t how much weight we would add for the next level depend upon the exercise in question?

If I could five sets of ten reps for shoulders, sure I’d only had five pounds for the next try. But if I could do five sets of ten for my bench, adding ten pounds would make sense. As for squats, fifty pounds sounds reasonable to me, given how many reps of squats I can do at 135 v 225 v 315 pounds.


Take a minute and find the plates or find a new, better, gym better suited to your needs