Double Progressive System

Posted on 07 May 2012 14:13

The Double Progressive System is a resistance training method that attempts to vary the stimulus by changing the number of repetitions and the resistance used.

At first the resistance is kept the same and the number of repetitions is increased with each consecutive workout, until a certain per-arranged number of reps is reached. At this point, various scenarios are given as to how to continue, but all of them involve decreasing the reps and increasing the resistance.

A common scenario would have the lifter simply increase the load by 5% and reduce the number of reps back down to the initial low starting point, and then repeating the process.

Other times, the resistance is increased and the repetitions are reduced gradually while continuing to increase the load. Supposedly, the method used would depend on the population being trained.

An example of this method is given in the chart below. The idea is that the load should not be increased until a certain number of repetitions (usually 12) can be performed with that load, and then the load can be increased, but with lower reps. This is a single-set system of training, primarily, although sometimes multiple set scenarios are described.

Although this "system" is frequently given as a set in stone method, essentially there are only a few things that are constant:

1. Two variables are manipulated, reps and weight (resistance).
2. The reps are increased with constant load until a certain number of reps can be performed.
3. The load is increased by a certain percent (most often 5%), which has the effect of decreasing the number of reps that can be performed.
4. The reps are built back up.
5. Sometimes, the load continues to increase while the reps are decreased, in a kind of "peaking" arrangement.

Essentially, you first add repetitions and then you add resistance. The concept is completely sound. However, the methods used are often short-sighted and result in frequent stalls. The term, and this type of training, has been described since the early 70's. A typical example is given below.

Set Repetitions Resistance (Load in Lbs)
1 4 100
2 6 100
3 8 100
4 10 100
5 12 100
6 6 105
7 7 105
8 9 105

It is unlikely that most trainees will be able to constantly increase repetitions in this way. Most often, the trainee will get "stuck" at a certain number of repetitions. Therefore, one problem is that the number of target repetitions is set in stone.

Another variation uses one-set-to-failure. One set of exercise is done to the point that another repetition cannot be performed with proper technique. The weight is set so that this failure point is reach from between 8 and 12 repetitions. When 12 reps is reached, the weight is increased.

A more "scientific" method is to calculate the ideal rep range, advocated by Arthur Jone and Ellington Darden, early on. In this method you take 80% of your one rep max, which corresponds roughly to a hypothetical 8RM based on the widely accepted formula of 102.78 - 2.78 x repetitions. and do as many reps as you can. Then you take the number of reps and multiply it by .15, giving you your "ideal rep range."

Bob Hoffman claimed to have originated this training method and called it an "advanced" method. A double progressive system such as this is often touted as being a superior way of training for strength as it allows constant uninterrupted progress and is "virtually" injury proof. Neither statement is true and there is no evidence that this method of strength training is effective for the long term. For free-weight training, there are a number of drawbacks even for the beginner. The total stimulus is actually quite low. The "slow" progress gives a false sense of security when the load is increased and the constant rep counting, without concurrent buildup of endurance, can result in low quality movement. This method of strength training, used alone, is not recommended.

The DeLorme System - Double Progressive Overload

It should also not be confused with the concept of "double progressive overload" which is sometimes used to describe an idea that was advanced as early as the 1940's by Dr. Thomas Delmore, who claimed that the most effective method for gaining muscular strength was to use 3 sets of 10 repetitions, increasing the load used by 25%. This so-called DeLorme System is actually a percentage based system, which starts at 50% of 10RM, increases the load to 75% for the second set, and up to 100% for the third set.

SDT Training

Do not confuse this "double progressive system" with the double progression that may occur in "SDT Training" (Single, Double, and Triple Progression).

This page created 07 May 2012 14:13
Last updated 09 Jan 2017 19:14

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