“I just read this email on the principle of progressive overload.
It makes a lot of sense except that it violates another
principal that you advocate, i.e., waviness of load. How
do you reconcile this?”
Am I contradicting myself?
“Waviness of load” is a form of Progressive Overload.
Most people think that you have to add weight or reps
each and every workout and that’s the only way to get
your results – like the legend of Milo of Croaton –
You know, the guy who carried the calf every day across
his shoulders until it became a bull. As the calf grew,
so did Milo.
Unfortunately, that just doesn’t work in the long haul.
If it did, if you could add just a pound each day to your
press or squat you’d add 365 pounds to a lift per year.
When was the last time that happened to you?
So most programs use some form of cycling.
“Waviness of Loads” is a form of cycling, which is a form
of Progressive Overload.
What’s different from wavy loads v. traditional forms of cycling
like step-wise progressions?
Here’s a typical step-wise progression based on an 8
(Sets x reps)
7×3, 6×4, 4×5, 3×4, 4×5, 3×6, etc
Now, Waving the Loads…
It’s a concept I first learned from my weightlifting coach
almost 20 years ago.
It is a concept developed / identified by former Olympic
Weightlifting champ and Soviet sports scientist, Dr. Arkady
Simply put, sharp, seemingly random contrasts in training
load yields faster results.
Here’s an example using the same 8 rep max on a Press:
(Sets x reps)
8×3, 5×5, 8×4, 6×6, 7×5, 6×4, 4×7
As you can see, this example waves between highs and
lows in the reps making the workouts feel either heavy or
So over the course of time your overloading the system –
Think of it this way:
It’s the difference between applying near constant pressure
against a wall in hopes of pushing it over versus backing up
and running and jumping into it repeatedly.
You’re more likely to knock that wall over the second way.
It’s my favorite form of loading and most of my programs
Don’t believe me?
Michael Kruse emailed me 2 days ago with his results:
Just wanted to inform you that the KB Strong Works
I´m almost in the middle of the program and did a maxtest
in the last set, 7 reps!
That´s two more in just 3 weeks :)”
Excellent job, Michael!
For those who are into percentages – Michael increased his
rep max 28.6% in only 9 workouts.
Pretty, pretty good in my book.
Speaking of books… If you want these types of results, use the
“STRONG!” program inside “Kettlebell STRONG!.”
P.S. There’s nothing wrong with simple step-wise forms of
cycling or other forms of cycling.
The key is ensuring that you can continually make progress.
If you’re going to (foolishly) follow your own programming,
then keeping it simple is the best practice and simple, linear,
step-wise cycling is probably your best choice.
However, if you’re time is more valuable than trying to figure
out the “best” cycle to improve your press, or snatch test
numbers, then you need to follow a program that will get
you the fastest results in the shortest possible time.