Your body is an extremely malleable machine. It will get bigger, stronger and faster, but only if you force it to do so. Most people make great gains in their first month of training, but then everything comes to a screeching halt.
What happens? In most cases, you’ve forgotten to put a progression plan in place. You must make your body do more work over time. The simplest way to do it is to add more weight to the bar. But that method only works for a few weeks at a time. Your body remembers and adapts to specific muscle actions and stops making progress.
Another problem with simply adding weight to your lifts is that it can be hard on your joints and recovery. Since fighters have to expend so much energy on other activities like boxing, jiu-jitsu and wrestling, it makes sense to use progression plans that don’t depend on adding weight to one’s lifts.
Three of my most successful progression plans are accomplished by manipulating the sets, reps or rest periods. You don’t need to constantly add weight to build a more powerful fighting physique. Here’s a basic overview of each progression.
Add a repetition to each set with the same weight as the previous workout. Let’s say you did 5 sets of 5 reps with 300 pounds for the deadlift on Monday. When your next workout rolls around, you’ll do 5 sets of 6 reps with the same weight. Goal: to build size with a secondary emphasis on strength.
Add a set to each exercise while using the same weight as the previous workout. If you did 5 sets of 5 reps with 300 pounds for the deadlift on Monday, you’ll do 6 sets of 5 reps with the same weight for the next workout. Goal: to build strength with a secondary emphasis on size.
Decrease the rest period between each set, while using the same weight as the previous workout. Let’s say you rested 60 seconds between each set of the deadlift on Monday. You’ll rest 55 seconds between each set for the next workout. Goal: to boost your overall conditioning and build fighting strength.
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