Single Double Triple Progression: SDT FAQ

Posted on 27 Jan 2011 07:09

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There has been an increasing buzz regarding Single, Double and Triple (SDT) Progression and I think it’s important for trainees to understand these principles correctly.

I’m compiling a FAQ series for this type of progression and I will be updating it as and when new questions arise.

Here’s an overview of the Questions asked so far:

• Where can I read up on SDT Progression?
• Can you give me a brief summary of SDT?
• How can I use SDT in practice?
• Can you put this in terms of numbers?

# Where can I read up on SDT Progression?

Check out Eric’s article on the subject out here: Single Double Triple Progression

# Can you give me a brief summary of SDT?

There are three primary training variables which can be manipulated:

1. Weight
2. Repetitions
3. Number of Sets

If you manipulate one of the above three training variables, the progression is called Single Progression. If you manipulate any two of the above three training variables, the progression is called Double Progression. If you are able to manipulate all three training variables, the progression is called Triple Progression.

# How can I use SDT in practice?

The first step is setting a base volume and a base weight in the first week of training. This is very important because everything is going to be built on this. So let’s assume that the base volume is 3 sets of 6 reps and the base weight is 100 lbs. Now, for all the subsequent workouts to this, the trainee can use Single, Double or Triple progression to build on this base volume and being weight. In other words, the trainee has complete freedom to:

• Add Weight, Reps and Sets

to this base volume and base weight. Once the trainee has managed to progress, over several training sessions, to a level which is not sustainable, instead of “resetting” the weight, the trainee has to go back to the base volume but use a heavier weight – and this weight becomes the new base weight (but the base volume remains the same).

# Can you put this in terms of numbers?

Before I provide numbers, I want to reiterate something which may perhaps be forgotten: This is not a set in stone method and the whole purpose of this is to allow the trainee to think on his/her feet while keeping the concept of “sustainable progression” at the forefront.

What I mean by this is that these are really just a bunch of numbers. Do not use them as a base to progress from. The whole point of SDT is for the trainee to adjust and customize the principles to suit him/her.

I’ll provide a real-world example of this. I’m going to use the example of Bench Press:

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9
100 x 5 105 x 6 105 x 6 110 x 7 110 x 5 110 x 6 110 x 7 115 x 7 125 x 5
100 x 5 105 x 5 105 x 6 110 x 6 110 x 5 115 x 6 115 x 7 120 x 7 125 x 5
- - 105 x 6 110 x 6 - 120 x 5 120 x 6 120 x 6 -
- - - 110 x 4 - - - - -

In terms of SDT, here is what the above data means:

 Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Base DP: W + R DP: S + R TP New Base TP SP: R SP: W New Base

Here’s a short key for the funny abbreviations above (see Appendix A for Full Abbreviation Chart):

 Code Key Base Base Volume and Base Weight New Base New Base Weight at Old Base Volume SP Single Progression DP Double Progression TP Triple Progression W Increase in Weight R Increase in Reps S Increase in Sets

I’ll repeat what I said earlier: these are just numbers but for those of you who are better at understanding number patterns, this should help illustrate SDT Progression.

# Conclusion

Trainees need to realize that Single Double Triple Progression is just a bunch of training principles. There is no “SDT Program”. SDT is an amalgamation of training guidelines to provide the trainee with quality options to progress in a comfortable and sustainable manner.

I want to emphasize that the base volume is critical for progress and it is also what makes it self-regulatory. The trainee manages to “peak”, “progress” and “deload” at the same time.

Here’s a very interesting quote by Eric regarding workload, the base volume and the Benchmark of Progression:

From a sheer workload perspective you may be doing a lot more before you go back down to base volume. But another important thing is that there aren't any rules governing how much weight you are allowed to add to that volume..or attempt to add. So say you've been using SDT and have added 10 lbs to the bar, plus more reps and more sets, so that your overall workload has gone up a whole lot. Well you may be able to go back to base volume and add 15 to 20 pounds to that. If you can microload maybe you'd add like 12.5 or something. Who knows. The point is to be able to add as much weight as possible to the base and that way you have a very clear bench mark of progression.