Categorized | Exercises, Fitness Models

How to measure your strength progression

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Strength progression is all about how much weight you can lift, over a certain number of reps or sets, here’s how to measure your progression.

What is it?

Tracking strength progression is vital to any resistance based program, with muscles needing to be consistently challenged in order to fortify the neural connections and muscular adaptions needed for change. Lift the same weight, for the same reps and sets, for weeks on end, and you will likely plateau in both the potential health benefits of resistance training and body composition.

“If we are tracking strength increases, then it’s vital we record our workouts and weights in a diary. Knowing that on week one we pressed 20kg overhead and this week we pressed 22.5kg overhead is a big motivator,” says trainer and owner of Fully Loaded Fitness, Ethan Hyde.
Hyde.

“It also sets a benchmark. Once you hit 22.5kg, chances are you won’t get the 20kg again! Testing isn’t just about knowing some numbers – it motivates us to keep pushing forward and set new benchmarks along the way.”

Test 1: One- to 10-rep maximums

Hyde suggests beginners test their 10-rep max (the maximum weight you can lift with good form for 10 reps across a range of key lifts).

“One rep max tests are great on trained individuals. An untrained person lacks the strength and range of movement to load with a maximal weight. The risk of injury creeps up a bit too much,” says Hyde.

“It’s important not to worry about testing strength for every single exercise you do. Focus on the major lifts that are proven to be good measures of strength.”

Hyde suggests:

  • Horizontal push – bench press
  • Horizontal pull – bent over row
  • Vertical push – barbell press
  • Vertical pull – pull-ups or lateral pulldown
  • Knee dominant leg exercise – squats
  • Hip dominant leg exercise – deadlift

McKee uses a similar method, testing upper body strength via the bench press and lower body via the squat. For beginners, start with a barbell bar only on both lifts (five to seven kilograms) and add weight in 2.5kg to 5kg increments every 12 reps. For intermediate to advanced lifters, use an Olympic bar (20kg) and add weight in increments of 5 to 10kg.

“I also have interim key performance indicators where we look at the number of reps being achieved at a new weight level to ensure we keep the lifter motivated and on target to progress to the next level,” says McKee.

The test is complete when you can no longer lift the weight for 12 reps with good form. The weight on which you ‘fail’ should increase at the end of each phase of training.

Words by Katelyn Swallow.

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5 hours 12 minutes ago

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