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Waterbury Programs...


Hi Guys. I am a beginner lifter who is about 7 months or so in. I have started looking at Chad Waterbury's programs recently. I find his methods very interesting but I have noticed that there is never a mention about what to do if you cant fulfil all of the prescribed reps (or even sets) on a specific day. His weekly progression only mentions what to do the next week if you have completed them all.

For example if in the Art of Waterbury Day 1 I only manage 1 out of 3 reps on the last set of 10 would I still increase the weight 2.5% the next week or would I attempt again with the same weight?

Thanks in advance guys.



No. You do not. The premise behind Waterbury programs is.that you never miss a rep (or.if.you do it is sort of a freak accident). this is because you are using a weight that is determined by your technical failure, not absolute failure, when testing your maxes. It's a bit roundabout to explain but the basic premise is you must maintain mostly solid form on all repetitions of a lift, so you should be able to increase week to week.

Short answer, do not increase weight and repeat this week until you can hit all repetitions before moving on to the next week's scheme.


Excellent. Thanks Aragorn. Much appreciated. You seem knowledgeable on all things Waterbury so I will be cheeky enough to ask another couple of questions if you don't mind?

  1. If Waterbury asks for a 2.5% increase on a subsequent week does he mean 2.5% increase on the 1RM or on the weight lifted itself?

  2. Does the 1RM need to be recalculated on a regular basis as strength increases?

  3. I have found at this stage when I am still pretty weak that a 2.5% percent is not possible on certain dumbell lifts due to the dumbell's at my gym increasing in increments of 2.5kg making an increase overall of 5kg for the lift.

Thanks in advance I appreciate it.



Not sure what you're asking, but it would work something like this: your 1RM is 100 lbs. Waterbury prescribes 70% for 10x3, then add 2.5% or 2.5 lbs for the next week. Take 2.5% of your 1RM and add it to the weight on the bar.

Yes, but probably not until you finish the written program and are ready to start over from Week 1. Go through the program all the way, then re-test your maxes before you start the program over or switch to a new one.

Hmm...two solutions I suppose--you could either progress the dumbbell lifts at half the rate (i.e. every other week add 5 kg) or add the 5 kg weekly until you miss a rep, then stay with the weight as long as it takes you to complete all the reps 2 weeks running.


Just my 2 cents, but there is a little over thinking going on. Do the lifts as written. If you fail, you probably didn'tt calculate the weight correctly at first. Regardless, drop the weight or at least stay where you are. Try to always have perfect form. Put a little more weight on the bar IF you can and will be successful. Take a stopwatch and time your rest periods.


Or (USEFUL TIP) he could take some duct tape to the gym and attach a 2.5 plate to each dumbbell. Like so:


Don't worry about PRs every single week just get a good amount of work in...