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When Do You Incorporate Different Levels/Ways Of Resistance?


Just a question I've been wondering about for the past few months. I've been reading through Arnold's encyclopedia of bodybuilding and came across a section where he talks about varying ways to add resistance to your workouts so that your body doesn't become adapted to the training, and then still has reasons to grow. Some of them include Supersets, Drop Sets, Tri Sets etc.

I've always trained from the start in a way that lets me see progress which I write down in a journal. I do this by adding weight. I've always added weight as a form of resistance. Now the problem I have is, when exactly should I be adding different types of resistance to "shock" my muscles, so they don't become adapted to the training? Let's say I was to add supersets to my Chest day... That's all well & good, but then my strength will eventually stop progressing because I'm jumping from one exercise to another with no rest in between. If I did Barbell Flat Bench followed by Incline Dumbbell Bench in a superset then I don't know if my Incline Dumbbell Bench weight would increase in the future due to it coming straight after the previous exercise, with no rest in between. And even if it did increase, it wouldn't be the true amount I could lift, it'd just be the amount I could lift after doing an exercise right before it with no rest in between. So the progression would seem weird, if there was even any at all.

I'm just not sure how and when to add different types of resistance such as supersets etc, because it detracts from my main form of progression which is adding weight to the exercises. Which is the better form of progression from a bodybuilding point of view, because I've always read that you should be aiming to add weight to your exercises all the time, even if by just 1-2lbs? I just don't know.

Would really appreciate some help with this.



Bodybuilding is not all about weight.


So how do I measure progression if not by adding weight? It may sound stupid but that’s the reason for this thread. I know something needs to change, and I’m trying to figure out the correct way of incorporating it into my training whilst still being able to keep progression up, whether it’s by adding weight or any other way. The problem is, I’m not sure of any other way to measure progression in bodybuilding than by adding weight, writing down what I did & trying to beat it the next time I go. I could try to do more reps instead of adding weight, as a form of progression but then what happens when my reps go 14,15,16+ ? I’m not gonna keep going with that high rep range.


You can progress by adding reps. When reps get too high you add weight. i like to focus on my main lifts going up in weight with proper form of course. Then throw in drop sets, supersets, etc on the isolation movements and just focus on pump and good contraction. I still log everything though. But in my opinion, as long as your main lifts are going up, youre doing something right. weight is not everything.

If all youre focusing on is adding weight, i guarantee your form and intent could be way better to actually feel that muscle working. Yes weight is important but form, intent, contraction, and pump is even more important in my opinion.


You should recognize at the outset that measuring progress solely in terms of strength progression is ultimately an exercise in futility (if you’ll pardon the expression), on two levels. Firstly, it is impossible to continually get stronger; if it weren’t, there’d be guys benching 2000+ pounds. Secondly, to forever ‘chase weight’ is to run a very high risk of serious orthopedic injury.

To echo what ELS said above: A better way to think of progression is in terms of power rather than weight. Power is defined as work per unit time, and ‘work’ is defined as force x distance. In BBing terms, work can be defined as weight x reps. Putting it all together, we can see that in BBing:

Power = Work/Time = (Weight x Reps)/Time

By looking at the equation, it is quickly apparent that Power can be increased by doing one of three things:

  1. Increase the weight, keeping the number of reps, and the time it takes to complete those reps, the same;
  2. increase the number of reps, keeping weight and time the same; or
  3. decrease the time taken to complete a certain number of reps at a given weight.

The point: For measuring BBing progress in the short term, think in terms of increasing Power, not weight. (I say ‘short term’ because the long-term measure of progress in BBing is physique enhancement.)

As an aside: Some authors refer to the above formula as defining Density rather than Power. The semantics are different, but the point is the same.


Measure progression by how big your muscles Grow!

You don’t superset bench press and dumbbell incline to hit big numbers, you do it to pump up your pecs.

When you’re a beginner, sometimes its hard to “feel” your muscles working. During this time, pretty much all you can do is add weight. As you develop the “mind muscle connection” you’ll start to find that some exercises really “pump you up” or how to squeeze and generate maximum tension in individual muscles.

You could keep your bench press and incline dumbbell set up the same and superset pec-deck with pushups or do a drop set of decline dumbbell presses just to kind of experiment.

If you’re seeing good results, don’t change everything up all at once. Stick to your own “style” of lifting 85% or your workout. Continue to make progress. Try out other stuff during that other 15% of your workout. Whatever works can be added into your training “style.” Drop the stuff you don’t like, or that doesn’t work.

Also, here’s a cool article someone posted last week


[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
3. decrease the time taken to complete a certain number of reps at a given weight.[/quote]

this is an underused, and underrated, method of progression, in my opinion.


That’s excellent. Thanks for the informative replies.

Much appreciated!


[quote]Vanch wrote:
I’ve always trained from the start in a way that lets me see progress which I write down in a journal. I do this by adding weight. I’ve always added weight as a form of resistance. Now the problem I have is, when exactly should I be adding different types of resistance to “shock” my muscles, so they don’t become adapted to the training?[/quote]
I’d like to repeat my answer to you from a similar thread last year. See above.

Dude, you’ve been training for over 10 years, allegedly. Either you’ve been spinning your wheels all this time, in which case you need to change everything you’ve been doing, or whatever you’ve been doing has been working and you’ve been satisfied with your progress, in which case there’s no need to “shock” anything.

What’s your current height, weight, and general fat level? And what are your maxes on the big basic lifts?

You’re way overcomplicating this. Like the guys have all said, moving more weight is not the most important factor when it comes to building muscle. In fact, if moving more weight is your number one goal, I’d suggest that you shouldn’t have a “chest day” that uses supersets to work multiple chest exercises in a row.

These articles from Thib, Waterbury, and Meadows talk about different ways to progress and should open up some options:

Yep, because that’s totally how Arnold and Sergio and Haney and Dorian and Flex and Jay and Kai and Heath all did it, by adding more weight to the bar each and every workout.