T Nation

Wave Loading

Wassup, T-Men. I am planning an intensification phase coming off an accumulation phase. I am looking to use a wave loading program, as it’s something I’ve never done before. I was thinking of using the 1-6 Principle originally proposed by the Coach, but modifying it to 2-5 because of the lack of a training partner (reliable spot). In an old Question of Strength column, I came across a 7-5-3 wave loading example, but Poliquin did not elaborate. I was wondering if any of you who have experience with a wave loading program wouldn’t mind sharing your experiences and thoughts. Thanks, guys.

Stay with the 1-6 Principle, but you are not supposed to max on the “1”. Go to 90-95% of 1RM. If you are an experienced lifter and know your body well enough, doing this without a training partner is not a problem. Otherwise, use a spotter. You can also use the 4-3-2-4-3-2 wave. You should be a little stronger on the 2nd wave. Make sure you are warmed up well before either. Both work well, but for me, I stopped making gains after the 5th or 6th workout.

JRR…thanks for the input, bud. I appreciate you clearing up the 1RM. I will probably go with the 1-6. Did you attempt to increase the weight in subsequent waves (when using the 1-6)? Or did you stay with the same weights for the required reps? Or did you just go with instinct (ie. you felt great on your first 1RM lift, so you upped the ante the next time around)? Also, I was planning on splitting as such: 1: Arms; 2:Quads and Hams; 3:Recovery; 4:Chest and Back; 5: Recovery; 6:Repeat. How did you split when utilizing this method? Thanks, JRR.

Timbo, use a load that you could handle for 2-3 reps on your singles. I would try to increase the loading in subsequent waves (+2-5%), so don’t kill yourself in the first wave. I am doing this program now, and the split I’m using is like yours except day 5 is rotator cuff and abs. I take day 6 off and repeat.

Jake…thanks for the input, big guy. Are you doing two exercises per bodypart as Coach originally recommended? It would also be nice to know how long you’ve been using the program and how you are progressing. Thanks, Jake. BTW, I’m planning on doing it for about 4 weeks–should come out to 4 or 5 workouts per bodypart.

i’ve used 7-5-3 wave loading, and had great sucess with it. you basically do this:
wave 1
7 reps at 100 lbs (just using 100 as example)
rest 4 minutes
5 reps at 120 lbs
rest 4 minutes
3 reps at 135 lbs
rest 4 minutes
wave 2
7 reps at 102 lbs
rest 4 minutes
5 reps at 122 lbs
rest 4 minutes
3 reps at 137 lbs

etc. you get the idea.
he recommended 2 waves. i found if i tried to do 3 i felt mentally trashed afterwards, which was um bad.

nothingx…I thought I remembered someone mentioning the 7-5-3…must have been in the thread about Poliquin’s new book. Thanks for the input, I was looking for some more info on that particular type of loading. How did you split your training sessions? From the looks of it (4 min RIs) it seems that you didn’t pair antagonists. Also, did you just do one exercise per bodypart, or did you do other exercises but not the same loading parameters? Sorry to pester you, but did you actually buy the PlateMates (2 pounders) or does your gym carry them? I realize that’s the ideal route–increases in small increments–but I don’t have the small plates and my gym only goes down to the 2 1/2-pound plates. With this type of loading, what tempo did you use–with the 1-6 I would plan on 50X or 40X to access the higher-threshold motor units. Thanks, nothingx, any info you can drop on me is appreciated.

timbo, there are a number of different ways you can do wave loading; 7,5,3,7,5,3 or 8,6,4,8,6,4 or 6,4,2,6,4,2 or 3,2,1,3,2,1. i have done them all myself along with a few different training partners and several of my athletes. any of these options could work very well. you could also do one wave of an A exercise and then do one wave for your B exercise, ex.-a1-chins 3 x 7,5,3
a2-dips 3 x 7,5,3
b1-rows 3 x 7,5,3
b2-db press 3 x 7,5,3
of course the tempo you choose would have to be indicative of your training goal. as far as relative strength increases go i have had great sucess with 3,2,1. a few years ago i made great size gains on 10,5,3,10,5,3. now ten reps would be too high for me to grow on. since you are going into an intensification phase i would suggest 6,4,2 or 1,6. you could also reverse the order, 2,4,6,2,4,6 which would lend itself to more of a strength response. there are endless possibilities. as far as the 1-6 goes, yes i have quite a bit of experience with this as well. when i used it exactly as cp reccomends,10 sets every five days, it was with five different athletes all of whom made incredible progress. it must be noted, however that these were genetic freaks with incredible recovery. i have also tried using a 1,6,1,6 wave on two different exercises for a total of 8 sets per bodypart with one of the same athletes who tried the higher volume approach and his results were about the same. the take home message there is maybe the extra volume is not necessary, but that is up to you to decide. i have used this approach myself along with my trainig partners and the results have been outstanding. i have done this with every tempo from a 50X0 to a 20X0 depending what goal i was trying to achieve. well i hope that helps you out a little bro. good luck.
by the way i see youre going to the arnold, have fun. ive been 3 times, its a blast. be sure to hit the parties saturday night, the sight of amy fahdli, monica brant, trish stratus, and angel teves all on one dance floor at the same time is one you wont soon forget. im not the least bit into the “bodybuilding scene”, ive only gone to the contest once when i was there but its still alot of fun.

gamer…thanks, big guy! That was great. You really filled my plate up with some options and expanded my options. I like the wave patterns of 7-5-3 and 8-6-4…heck, even the 10-5-3 sounds pretty good, but I think it would be best for me to test out the 7-5-3, 6-4-2 or just stay with the 1-6. No matter which I choose, I will probably utilize a 50X tempo to access the big daddies of the motor units. As far as sets go, I was planning on doing the 10 sets as recommended by CP; however, it might be advantageous to start out lower and work up over the course of the weeks. Like you mentioned, it’s just a matter of finding the shoe that fits. I’m not necessarily concerned with a relative strength phase, though; I am very much interested in size at the same time, just that my volume has been kind of high, so I thought I could bring it down a bit. Again, thanks a bunch, gamer. That’s a lot of useful info. BTW, I’m looking forward to hitting the Arnold. Originally I was planning on just going to the Expo to meet up with the T-mag guys…but the thought of those ladies is very intriguing. At this point, though, I am just hoping things go according to plan, as I may have some unexpected commitments that will take priority. Thanks, buddy…you’re always looking out for me!

Timbo, I’m doing the same exercises Poliquin layed out in his routine. I’m only one week in so I can’t really report progress yet. Probably will do about 3-4 more workouts per bodypart. I recommend you take it easy the first week if you’re not used to heavier loading. Also make sure you’re warmed-up well before starting these workouts. Good luck.

Jake…thanks again for dropping in. I plan on kicking things off tomorrow with a bad-ass Arm session. I decided to go with the 7-5-3 loading pattern. I would be interested in hearing how things go for you, so keep me posted. I’ll do the same.

Thanks, guys, for all the input. Any further advice, experience or recommendation is welcomed with open arms.

Timbo…I am a PL so I used the 1-6 for compound excercises only. I always increased the weight. On both the 6 reps and 1 reps. I imagine you could use a wave such as 7-5-3, but I am sure you know you would be training more for hypertrophy than strength.

JRR…thanks again for the reply, buddy. At the risk of being totally embarassed and sounding like an idiot, what’s a PL? Anyway, I realize the 7-5-3 loading is geared more towards hypertrophy. Upon further review of my overall training goal (size, baby, size), I decided to try this method–I primarily wanted to lower the volume and rep ranges I am working with. This also gives me the opportunity to utilize a more fast-twitch friendly tempo (explosive contractions). Thanks, JRR, I appreciate the feedback, pal.

No problem…PL is powerlifting or powerlifter. With either “wave”, 1-6 or 4-3-2-4-3-2 you will put on a little size and a good bit of strength. Remember…Go Heavy or Go Home. Best of luck.

JRR…thanks for not making me feel like a complete BB Dork–with a capital D, baby! I should’ve caught on…anyway, I trained arms using the 7-5-3 today and had a real intense, kick-ass workout. It was nice to use some heavy loads, a real nice change of pace…and the explosive movements, ya can’t beat 'em, bro. I like the Go Heavy, or Go Home mantra, JRR. Another way I like to employ is Attack the Stack Just wanted to thank you and all the other fellas again for lending me a hand. Hit 'em hard, chief.