Modes of progression

I want to share James’s success following a different approach during the last 8 weeks. James is nearly 18 but is far from a newbie, he’s been lifting seriously since the age of 14.

Background – During the early part of the rugby season twice weekly practice and a match each Saturday mean that James has little time to recover so powerlifting training is limited to 2 short sessions per week focusing on low volume and essentially maintenance.

Over the past 8 weeks James has been able to dedicate more time to lifting as rugby 7s season means less matches and less training.

Here’s the progress (all weights in kg):

Personal Best singles – old PB -> new PB

Squat 145 -> 151
Bench 87.5 -> 95

Deadlift 160.5 -> 172.5

Here’s what his programme looked like.

2 strength sessions.
2 hypertrophy/assistance sessions.

Strength sessions looked to add weight whenever possible, whilst maintaining good form.
Hypertrophy sessions aimed to add weight too but for each set an RPE of 8 was used. RPE – rate of perceived exertion, so RPE8 would mean you complete you set when you have a full 2 quality reps still remaining.

With the strength sessions the inital weights were chosen, with weekly updates, to be matching current repetition personal bests in week 3. James has well developed quads, hence the slant towards his posterior chain.

The introduction of volume as a new progression technique I believe contributed to the success of this programme. When your ‘normal’ progression is strength related adding in additional sub-maximal volume based sessions into your week can have a positive effect.

Sunday (first strength session)
Warm-ups not shown

Squat 5×3 (constant weight)
Deadlift 5×3 (constant weight)
Pendlay row 5×5 (constant weight)
Overhead Press 5×5 (rising weight)
Calf raise 3×15
Bicep Curl 3×10

Monday (indoor rugby fitness)

Tuesday (2nd strength session)
Stiff legged deadlift 3×8
Leg Curl 3×12 (constant weight)
Bench Press 5×5 (constant weight)
DB shoulder press 3×6
Skull crush 3×12
Face pulls 3×12

Wednesday (outdoor rugby 7s practice) – little or no contact

Thursday (first hypertrophy session)
Squat 3×80
Split squat 3×12
Bent over row 3×10
Overhead Press 3×10
Calf raise 3×15
Bicep DB curl (3-way) superset 3×8

Friday (first hypertrophy session)
Incline bench press 5×10 @ RPE7
DB bench press 3×12
Stiff legged deadlift 3×15
Leg curl 3×12 (optional)
DB tricep press 3×12
One arm row 3×12
DB shoulder press 3×12

Saturday – REST