We all know progressive overload with the Max-OT principles is the key to continual muscle gains but how much weight should you add to an exercise and when should you add it? There’s no magical formula, but there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep each workout heading in a maximum muscle-building direction.
I’ve found it helpful to establish individual daily goals of bettering my numbers each workout. I try to increase the weight or get more reps (in the 4-6 rep range) with the weight I left off with the previous week. These individual workout goals give me concrete objectives to accomplish and help me assess the success of each workout.
A fairly common question I get is about when to increase weights. Like I said in the opening paragraph I don’t feel there is a magic formula but there is a guideline and that guideline is the 4-6 rep range. You should be able to get at least four reps on your own but no more than six and when you can get six reps on your own, it is time to increase the weight.
If you are doing two or three sets of an exercise, you don’t have to get six reps on all sets before you increase. When you get six reps on the first set go ahead and increase for the remaining sets. Remember, more overload equals greater muscle growth stimulation so ideally, you should be at the lower end of the rep range on the latter sets of any given exercise. This is how the 4-6 rep range with Max-OT works to keep you progressing.
There can be exceptions to this rule depending on form and feel. Sometimes I can get six reps of an exercise, especially a movement like side lateral raises, but feel if I increase my form will suffer too much, and I won’t be able to get at least four reps. In instances like that, I may stay at a weight where I complete six reps on both sets to ensure good execution but normally once I hit six reps I know it is time to increase the weight.
When I increase, I move up with the smallest increments I can choose. Small incremental increases add up over time and allow me to keep building momentum and strength with each passing workout.
You don’t have to make monumental changes each workout to ensure continual progress. Modest daily goals of bettering your numbers with either a weight addition or completion of more reps than the week before will continually fan the flames of muscle growth.
And remember, be sure to keep good records of each workout.