Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Measuring Progress on 5/3/1...or in general

If you are doing the 5/3/1 program, this is something you'd want to see.

In a Q&A post on Elite FTS, Jim Wendler answers a question about how to measure progress on the 5/3/1 program.

He says:

You measure progress by:

1. Making it through another cycle and keep moving forward.

2. Comparing records via the Rep Max Formula.

3. Simply doing more weight for X reps...OR doing more reps and X weight.

As mentioned in the book, you won't break records all the time.

(quoting Jim Wendler on Elite FTS)

This is specific advice to the 5/3/1 program, but I think it applies more broadly.

Let's look at the advice.

1. Making it through another cycle and keep moving forward.

This is very simple and basic advice for anyone in any kind of progressive training program. Part of how you measure progress is that you continue to advance from workout to workout, week to week, month to month, getting closer and closer to your goals. If your program gets harder and builds on the previous work you did, just finishing that work and advancing to the next workout's weight, reps, sets, distance, etc. gets you further.

2. Comparing records via the Rep Max Formula.

If you calculate your 1RM for your lifts, you can compare different rep/weight combinations and see how they stack up against one another.

3. Simply doing more weight for X reps...OR doing more reps and X weight.

This is self-explanatory for weight training. If you did 5 x 225 last time, and you did 7 x 225 this time, it's an improvement. So is doing 5 x 230. Or even 5 x 226 pounds by micro-loading (adding less than 5 pounds as an increment of progress.)

For non-weight training, a similar idea is, have you demonstrated improvement in the overall metric of your training? Did you run/cycle/swim a given distance in a shorter time, or go further in a given time? Did you learn to apply your martial arts techniques more broadly, or add additional depth to your learning? Did you go one more round of sparring without a break, or take shorter ones? It's not always as black-and-white as a reps and weight, but it's something you need to do.

This blog has covered progress before; the most important thing in your training is that it is progressive. How you progress - reps, weight, time, rest times, incline on the treadmill, distance - depends on your goals, but progress is the name of the game.

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