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A quick summary on the concept of “Linear Progression.” This is relevant to ALL levels of athletes: from the absolute beginner to elite level competitor.

Getting into any kind of training should be basic, simple to understand, and yield tangible results. For beginners, your training should be based around the concept of “be better today than you were yesterday.”

Yet, I still see people who are not sure how to turn that phrase into a plan. Most of the time they over complicate the process and have questions such as:

  • How am I supposed to be stronger than yesterday? Should I add weight to the bar?
  • Should I do the same workout as yesterday but add weight?
  • What happens if I can’t lift more weight?
  • Should I do more reps?
  • My muscles hurt, should I go to the gym?
  • I’ve been training for 3 days, I’m not sure if I’m getting stronger.

The idea of Linear Progress is the most basic concept anyone should be taught. And by anyone, I mean any runner, body builder, strength athlete, rower, CrossFit athlete, etc. This is how you should structure your program:

Your program should dictate some rep x set scheme. The most common strength scheme is 3 sets of 5 reps. The most common Body building scheme is 4 x 8 reps.

If you are an absolute beginner, Week 1 you will lift the bar or the minimum amount of weight that challenges you but will not make you fail. Between sets you will rest 2 min.

The following week, the next opportunity you have to perform that same lift, you will add 5 lbs to the bar. No more and no less.

Rinse and repeat. Each week.

Sound simple? It is. And I challenge you to crank this out over the next 6 months. What’s going to happen over 6 months? Think about it – 5 lbs a week for 24 weeks will yield you a 120 lb increase in your weight. And it’ll only increase the longer you stick to the plan.

For example, let’s say you’re a high school student. You’re on the football team and it is Monday. Today is your day to Bench Press. Since you’ve bench pressed before but have never had a plan, you start at what feels like a weight that is medium-heavy (don’t think about it too hard). You choose 95 lbs for 3 sets of 5 lbs.

Six months later: 3 sets of 5 reps at 215. And all you’re doing is adding 5 lbs each week. That’s in your freshman year of high school. That’s wild.

What happens if I miss a week?

Then you are not allowed to skip a week. Let’s say you bench 135 for 3 sets of 5 one week. The next week you’re on vacation. The following week, you will do 130 lbs or 135 lbs for 3 sets of 5. You’re not allowed to skip ahead.

What happens if I fail the weight?

Repeat the weight the following week. If you miss it again, drop down to 90% of the failed weight and start the linear progress over again.

How do I know when to do something different than Linear Progress?

You’ll know. Trust me. And you’ll be lifting in the hundreds (this includes ladies as well).

Have any specific questions or want out input? Send us a message on twitter @journeyman_gym or leave us a message on facebook.

Seriously. Do you have a plan that’s not working out right now? Ask us. We’ll help give you some guidance.



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