Progressive Overload

by Louie Simmons on February 04, 2019

            The first method of periodization used was Western Progressive Overload. It would start a training cycle with light weights ranging up to 20 reps for muscle mass, and then use medium weights for speed strength. At this point the reps were reduced to ensure building power to make it possible to enter into heavy M-E training close to a meet.

            This system had many flaws when going through one phase to another. The first phase for building muscle mass should include 80 percent of the training with small, single-joint exercises to ensure correct muscle balance. When moving on to the medium weights to build strength speed the reps are reduced as well as total work volume as intensity grows. Now as you move on to heavyweights, fewer reps lead to less volume. In fact, at this point, you have reduced the volume to such an extent it is very hit or miss on contest day.

            Also, as you leave the lightweights cycle, which normally lasts six weeks, and move on to the medium weights, you lose much of the muscle mass that you have spent six weeks building. Then, after six weeks of medium weights for speed strength, you move on to the heavyweights competitive period, but then you start to lose your speed strength. Now you have to reduce your reps to complete the competitive period to complete the training up to the meet.

            Westside knows how much volume it takes to squat 600 or 800 pounds. You need to train at an average of 80 percent of the amount you want to squat. For a 600-pound squat, you would train at 80 percent of 600 pounds (480 pounds) times 25 reps, which is a volume of 12,000 pounds. (The calculation is .80 x 600 x 25.) For an 800-pound squat, you would train at 80 percent of 800 pounds (640 pounds) times 25 reps, which is a volume of 16,000 pounds. (The calculation is .80x800x25.)

            But when using the Progressive Overload System, this is never the case. Using it can lead to two things: injury or not reaching your meet goal. But, if you reach your new goal at meet time, you start a new hypothetical goal. Plus, you start over with the same old light weights for high reps. Thank about this: If you climb Mount Everest half way up you start a base camp.

You don’t go back down the mountain and start over the next day just to reach the half-way point again. But this is precisely what you are doing when using the Progressive Overload Principle of organizing your training. This type of training does not ensure over or under training due to dropping the important small special exercises that made it possible to reach new goals.

            The theory of dividing training into three separate cycles was presented by Nikolay Ozolin in the text Training the Athlete, Moscow, but that was 1949, and it is 2018 now.

            Western Periodization, designed by Matveyev, was looked on as the superior method of periodization, but many Russian sports scientists found flaws in its structure, many of which I have discussed. One critic was Verkhosansky, who stated that the Western Periodization Model was made for weightlifting, track and field, and swimming.

The main emphasis was on volume and intensity zones. Many use three volumes—low, medium and high—along with high medium or low intensity. Experts like Vorobyen, 1978, and Ermakov, 1974, worked on the calculation for total volume and at a certain intensity zone.

Westside Wave Periodization

            The Westside model was designed using the data of great Russian sports scientists. Two of them—A. D. Ermakov and N. S. Atanasov—showed data in 1975 of the selection of training loads in 780 cases of their highly skilled weightlifters. Weights ranging from 55 percent to 100 percent in these cases determined that 50 p0ercent of all barbell training was from 75 percent to 85 percent. This laid the foundation for our speed strength day for both upper and lower body workouts.

            The third great Russian sport scientist, and also a Jr. and Sr. weightlifting coach, A. S. Prilepin had gathered data in 1974 concerning the minimal, optimal and maximal number of reps in a single set and the total number of lifts per workout with a barbell.

            And, last, but not least, Arosiev’s approach to the pendulum wave training has completed the puzzle that has produced the greatest male and female powerlifters of all time: Dave Hoff, with a 3014-pound total at 308 body weight, and Heidi Howar with a 1500-pound total at 132 body weight.

            Everything is based on math and bar velocity. For speed strength, the bar velocity is roughly .08 m/s. All highly skilled powerlifters should be able to obtain the .08 m/s stated above. As your strength grows, so must your base strength level. If you make a 500-pound squat at your last contest, you should not fall below 90 percent (or 450 pounds) of that mark.

The loading below is based on your barbell weight. If you use combinations of resistance methods training with rubber bands, use a combination of 50 percent, 55 percent, or 60 percent bar weight, plus 25 percent band tension at lockout.

            The combination of bar weight and band tension is best to ensure Compensatory Acceleration Training, or C.A.T. This prevents the barbell velocity to slow as you lockout at the top. This causes an increase in muscle tension by trying to maintain top speed throughout the entire lift. Dr. Fred Hatfield said no one can lift a heavy weight slow.

            This is directly in line with the force velocity relationship: motion velocity decreases as external resistance (load) increases. Maximum force (Fmm) is attained when velocity is small and then things reverse. When maximum velocity (Vmm) is attained when external resistance is close to zero.

            Different velocities provide separate special strengths:

  • Fast velocity=Explosive strength
  • Intermediate velocity=Speed strength
  • Slow velocity=Strength speed

This is the result of the hyperbolic equation known as Hill’s Equation, named after A. V. Hill, 1938.

            The Westside pendulum wave is repeated indefinitely every fourth week to maintain a set amount of strength for a team sport. For rugby it could be maintaining a 500-pound squat year-long. Just use the three-week wave for a 500-pound lift.

            Remember after a meet you must never drop below 90 percent of your best lifts or you must workout to raise your level of preparedness to begin training again. Only students take vacations, not athletes. There cannot be any guesswork, but base the training on your best lift. The special exercises, small and large, on both speed strength and M-E days will cause a rise in your strength. Start the training over at close to 90 percent of your new contest maximum.

            Study the chart at the end of this article closely and you will see that as your volume goes up so do your lifts with the correct bar speed. And that will happen while you’re working on your single-joint deficiencies, and while you’re constantly working on your lifting technique and selecting the correct exercises on your small workouts. If you stay with the correct percentages and total volume, an 800-pound squatter will move his 80 percent just as fast as a 400-pound squatter.

            After a meet, start your cycle at 100 pounds less than your new meet squat record. After a three-week wave, start the second three-week wave equal to your new record. Every fourth week change the bar you start with and repeat. This holds true for the bench by changing bars or switching from chains to bands or a combination of both. The speed pulls will change from standing on a two-inch or four-inch box to placing the plates on two-inch or four-inch mat rack pull on multiple pins and so forth. By using a three-week wave, you gradually become stronger year in and year out while raising volume slowly, but continuously, throughout your career.

            It makes no sense to take time off and start at the bottom of the mountain again only to build your self back up to old standards. With speed strength day it is a gradual wave, while M-E workouts have a very steep wave as they change each week. If you want constant progress, try wave periodization. Look at the chart carefully.

Louie Simmons


Max Squat

400

Reps

Sets

Total Reps

Total Volume

Week 1_75% = 300

2

12

24

7200

Week 2_80% = 320

2

12

24

7680

Week 3_85% = 340

2

10

20

6800

500

 

 

 

 

Week 1_75% = 375

2

12

24

9000

Week 2_80% = 400

2

12

24

9600

Week 3_85% = 425

2

10

20

8500

600

 

 

 

 

Week 1_75% = 450

2

12

24

10,800

Week 2_80% = 480

2

12

24

11,520

Week 3_85% = 510

2

10

20

10,200

700

 

 

 

 

Week 1_75% = 525

2

12

24

12,600

Week 2_80% = 560

2

12

24

13,440

Week 3_85% = 595

2

10

20

11,900

800

 

 

 

 

Week 1_75% = 600

2

12

24

14,400

Week 2_80% = 640

2

12

24

15,360

Week 3_85% = 680

2

10

20

13,600

 

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