Understandign the progressive Resistance System

The progressive resistance system is the most forgotten system in bodybuilding today. It allows for any individual to monitor his/her progress and be assured that proper muscle hypertrophy takes place.

By using the progressive resistance system correctly, you will be able to monitor your strength increases and muscle growth better than any other system there is. Many people use the progressive resistance system and don’t even know it. They instinctively know that this is the correct way to workout.

Ronnie Coleman once said in an interview in Flex magazine that he has basically used the same routine for many years that he does not change much from one workout to another, and he is Mr. Olympia many times over! How dare him use such a simple and effective system to develop one of the most freakishly phenomenal bodies known to man.

The progressive resistance system states “In order to continually see progress (muscle development) the intensity of the workout must increase as your body adapts the workout.” I personally believe that there is only one true system that works it is the progressive resistance system. You start to use it as a novice trainer and 10 or 15 years later you are still applying it to your workout.

The progressive resistance system is the only system I use and the reason in obvious. All other system revolves around the principles of progressive resistance. I don’t subscribe to other workout systems because they may cause injury and I have had enough in my time. Most champion bodybuilders follow the progressive resistance system in one form or another. They may employ other principles, like superset, tri-sets, giant sets, drops sets, railroad (this is old school) flush sets pre-exhaust sets, and post-exhaust sets and numerous others but the system remains the progressive resistance system.

How do I know a Principle from a System? Simple. A system is the application of principles, for instance; If I wish to continue to see results I must increase the intensity of my workout as by body adapts to the previous load. (Progressive Resistance System)

In order to increase the intensity of my workout I employ one to the principles discussed below. ( remember a system is the application of principles )

The Five Principle Ways to Increase Intensity There are five ways to increase the intensity of a workout they are; Increase the weight being used for a given exercise, Increase the amount of repetitions used in a given set. Decrease the amount of time resting between sets. Increase the amount of sets used during a given workout. And of course, any combination of the above four.

So if you are applying one of the five principles with the goal of increasing the intensity to match your body’s adaptation to pervious stress of exercise, then you are using the progressive resistance system.

Reps Determine Weight used; Not the Reverse.

The repetitions ranges determine the weight not the weight determine the reps. What I mean by this is that the goal is a rep range, when doing the progressive resistance system, not the weight used. For instance, if you can only do 1-4 reps on your first set then you are a power lifter not a bodybuilder. One rep max are use only to determine what weight to use on muscle building sets. If you can only do 5-8 reps during your first set then I am doing heavy weight. If you can only do 9-12 reps during your first set then you are lifting moderate weight. And if you can only do 15- 25 reps then you are lifting light weight. Of course you understand that if you can only do these number on your first set then the numbers get less and less on all the set that follow. Further more I think for successful leg training you need more reps than the rest of the body, somewhere between 15 to 25 reps seem to work best for most.

Now when you do that same weight on your next workout for that body part you should be able to lift one to three reps more (Those not in very good shape see much better results than those is fairly good shape) on the first set, and maybe an additional rep or two on the sets that follow. When you can complete all the sets for the given number of repetitions then its time to increase the intensity (I suggest that for people with under a year of training that you only increase the weight)

Ok, when should I increase intensity and how? Real simple. Increase intensity for three reasons; To get bigger and more massive (in the winter months/ build size) To get deeper separation (spring or fall/ makes you stronger) To get define (late spring, summer, and early fall /Pick of dates)

Summer / Contest If you are trying to drop body fat develop deep cuts, and you are on a low carbohydrate, low fat or calorie restricted diet then intensity is increased by increasing the amount of reps being used on a given set. And the amount of set used in a workout. You may have to increase the duration of the workout by about 25% and drop the weight about 5 to 10% but I don’t suggest a larger drop than that.

Many bodybuilders drop the weight so much during the contest and summer months in an effort to develop that ripped look that they loose muscle size. I don’t believe in lowering calorie intake for diet I just increase aerobic activity.

Spring / Fall You should be either just starting to watch what you eat (spring), or are coming off a great diet (fall). In either case you need to increase your aerobic activity if its spring, and cut back the aerobics if it fall. This will allow you to more easily transition into the coming seasons and the workout style that is associated with them.

To increase intensity you will need to increase the amount of sets used during a given workout while holding the workout to the duration.

In the winter You will be on your mass cycle you will be getting as big and as strong as possible. You will have to drop the amount of sets in you workout. And increase intensity by increasing the weight being used. You workout should consist of all compound movements.

This is the time most people get injured. I suggest that you start with a weight and every 6 week you take two workout days off and drop all weights by one half the weight you increased over the last six weeks. For instanc eif during the last few week you increased the weight by 100 lbs you will take 50 percent of your increase weight and add it to you initial starting weight. That number will be your new 6 week cycle initial weight.

Troy Pearsall