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.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Training Terminology: Wave Loading

More training terms. This one I'm guilty of using a few times in reviews without really defining it.

Wave Loading is a set/rep scheme for weight training. The weight is increased set to set, and typically reps are decreased as well. After the "wave" is complete, the exercise is re-set and the "wave" is duplicated, only with slightly higher weights for the given reps.

It is typically done in two "waves" of three sets. For example, a wave could be 6/4/2 x 2. This means:
Wave one:
Set 1: 6 reps
Set 2: 4 reps
Set 3: 2 reps

Wave two:
Set 4: 6 reps
Set 5: 4 reps
Set 6: 2 reps

Each successive wave is done with a higher weight. So if wave one is done with 185 pounds/205 pounds/225 pounds, wave two might be 190/210/230 or 195/215/235. This takes advantage of the body's reaction to the heavier weights in the first wave. Once you've done 2 x 225, 6 x 195 will feel light because your muscles will still be prepared to lift 225. Once you get to the final set, you're in new ground weight-wise, but the reps are lowering and you've allowed your muscles to keep working without straining at the level that 225 required.

Essentially, wave-loading like this allows you to get in an extra volume of work, take advantage of the "supra-warmup" effect of the previous sets, in order to lift heavier weights in the end.

Critical Bench posted an excellent article with a few other examples of wave-loading schemes.

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