Progressions – 2018 Update

Written by: Brad Pilon

It’s been almost exactly a year of doing Progressions for me, so I thought I’d share some updates with you…

As a recap, in April of 2017 I decided to re-focus on my training towards getting stronger SLOWLY. The goal was SLOW and CONSISTENT gains in strength as estimated using an equation to calculate my estimated one rep max.

The true motivation was to make sure that I was always training with a high level of effort, the effort was what drove the gains in strength.

I trained 3 times per week (typically Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and as usual fasted twice per week, eating around 100 grams of protein per day…

Squats, bench presses, chins, shoulder presses, and dips, weren’t the only exercises I did, but the only ones that I used Progressions with. (I also did dumbbell rows, harrop curls, hamstring curls, shrugs, rear delt flyes, and some triceps pushdowns.)

I started conservatively, by testing my strength on several key lifts, making sure my form was exactly the form I wanted to use – slow and controlled, with a very defined full range of motion.

I started with bench press – one of the lifts I’m naturally good at. I started with 185 pounds for 10 reps (an estimated one rep max of 246.6 pounds). Last week, I did 250 pounds for 8 reps (an estimated one rep max of 316.6).

While this is not my all-time best (I was able to bench press 365 pounds for 1 when I was 25 years old) but it’s the best I’ve done in over a decade!

[[ I gained less than 1.5 pounds of strength per week, but did so consistently over 52 weeks. ]]

Next, I used progressions on of my worst lifts: the front squat.  I started with 80 pounds for 6 reps (an estimated one rep max of 96 pounds), last week I did 165 pounds for 8 reps (an estimated one rep max of 208.9 pounds).

[[ This is an all time best for me. ]]

This was a much larger increase than bench press, but I did start very conservatively.

This equated to a bit more than 2 pounds a week, (higher than I think is sustainable over the long term)

Next weighted dips and weighted chins.

I started DIPS with an added 50 pounds to my body weight for 7 reps, and ended with 105 pounds of added weight for 13 reps.

[[A gain of about 1.7 pounds per week. ]]

I started CHINS  with an added 60 pounds for 6 chins, and ended with 110 pounds of added weight for 7 reps.

[[ A gain of about 1.2 pounds per week. ]]

None of these are “elite” strength levels by any means, but they are all vast improvements over where I was a year ago.

And these improvements were made consistently with small gains in strength realized week over week.

In the same time I’ve seen small increases in muscle mass, and circumferences. (My thighs are up almost 3/4 of an inch.)

I’m going to continue Progressions for another year, keeping my focus on the front squat, and possibly moving to incline bench press.

[[ I’m also going to play with the frequency of my lifts. ]]

I’ll continue to update you as I go.

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