I'd like to keep this question general, but it's rather situational so excuse the extra fluff.
At the end of February I finished 6 months of doing Johnny Candito's linear program, control variant. Since then I've started a caloric deficit to lose some excess fat and my focus shifted on maintaining strength and muscle mass, making a little progress where feasible. So I changed to the hypertrophy variant of the program, with some personal modifications. I do 3 sets of 5 to 7 reps on the compound movements like squat and bench press on the heavy day (once per week for upper/lower body), with one extra set at a higher weight for 3 to 5 reps. The hypertrophy day (also once per week for upper/lower) uses lighter weight or other exercises for more reps and sets and is a sort of volume day for me.
My progress is basically: do the 3 sets of 5 with a certain weight, next week try 3x6, the week after 3x7. After that I increase the weight by 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and do 5 reps again, then 6 etc. This scheme has worked very well and I'm making progress despite the caloric deficit. Now, since my squat is seriously lagging (especially compared to the deadlift) I'm also doing 3 heavy sets on the lower hypertrophy day for squats, with two lighter sets at higher reps. So squat progress could look like this for the following weeks:
Date Weight (kg) x sets x reps Thu 12/05 75x3x5, 65x2x10 Mo 16/05 75x3x6, 82.5x1x3 Thu 19/05 75x3x7, 65x2x11 Mo 23/05 77.5x3x5, 82.5x1x4 Thu 26/05 77.5x3x6, 65x2x12 Mo 30/05 77.5x3x7, 82.5x1x5 Thu 02/06 80x3x5, 67.5x2x10
Now, I've gotten some 0.5 kg micro-plates, letting me increment weights by 1 kg. So another option has become: increase the weight each week, but stick with 5 reps. Progress could then look like this (only showing heavy sets):
Date Weight (kg) x sets x reps Thu 12/05 75x3x5 Mo 16/05 76x3x5 Thu 19/05 77.5x3x5 Mo 23/05 78.5x3x5 Thu 26/05 79.5x3x5 Mo 30/05 80x3x5
Because the micro-plates are 0.5 kg each and the next lowest eight per plate in the gym is 1.25 kg, sometimes there'll be a 1 kg jump, other times 1.5 kg and yet other times 0.5 kg. I figure the above would be decent since the bigger jump is earlier on.
As you can see, by the time Monday 30 May rolls around, the weight, sets and reps would be the same, just a different progression. Which of these approaches would be best right now for me? The 5,6,7 scheme has worked well until now, and by the time the weight increases and the reps drop back to 5 it doesn't feel too taxing because the 7 reps at 2.5 kg less were actually harder. I'm inclined to go with what works. But at the same time, I'm expecting every time to suddenly hit a wall on the weight increase, even if the reps drop, and stalling out again. So maybe small weight increments could be better in keeping momentum and staying at 5 reps which appears to work well for me as a strength builder.
I'm only concerned with this progression up to the start of June. After that I'm switching back to a small caloric surplus and reviewing what would be the best course of action. I just want to hit that 80x3x5 as a short-term goal, because small goals like that keep me going.
I've found this answer, by the way: What are you views on progress between rep range vs. fixed reps?. I understand from it that both approaches could work well, I'm just wondering if someone has any insight in which would be better right now for the following month. So, very situation-specific question.