How much weight should you increase a set by when seeking to progressively overload a muscle group?

This can truly make or break your gains, so let’s get it right.

Let’s set the scene…

  • You’re working your biceps
  • It’s the third set – EZ bar curls
  • You look at your workout log and see that you got 11 reps on this set last week
  • You’re therefore trying for 12 (or more) reps
  • Quick visualization of the perfect biceps and some positive self-talk, then lift-off
  • SUCCESS! 12 good reps completed!

Now you record ‘12’ in your workout log and write down next week’s 3rd set weight. But how much of an increase would ensure a smooth, continual progression?

My general rule is that the smallest increment is the best increment.
Why?
Because increasing weight dramatically is, in my opinion, the number 1 reason why people plateau.

They try EVERYTHING to break out of it. Supersetting, ‘confusing’ the muscle, forced reps… Everything except, heaven forbid, reducing the weight! (please note the sarcasm).

You will find plateaus an extreme rarity if you simply make small, incremental increases in weight.

What makes muscle grow?
Forced adaptation to ever-increasing demands. We do this by increasing the point of positive failure over time (increased reps and/or weight), in accordance with the THT principles.

Too many people rush weight increases in an effort to hurry results.

Too much weight = sloppy form = not stimulating the intended muscle (and potential injury).

Opt for small, incremental increases and get back on track. For me, the smallest increase I can make is 0.5kg, or about 1lb. This is perfect and ensures that, not only are workouts productive, but I remain injury free.

Train Intelligently!

Mark McManus

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