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My name is Chris and I have a question about how to introduce the "variable" progression in my hypertrophy routine.

I have been practising fitness for 15 years now but was not until 2 years ago that I realised I had no real progress. I was stuck in the very same routines, repeated over and over the same 3 days of the week. I had not a real planning. Neither I did care of the diet nor the right planification of my training.

During the last two years, I have spent time and efforts on fixing that leak of attention. I follow now a diet for gaining muscle as neat as possible (I know, this is the hard way). I'm short in stature (1.70m) and not too bulky (62 Kg). Despite my weight, I think I got good marks in my Max Reps. For example, my max reps in Bench Press is at 92.5Kg, Leg press is at 140Kg, Death weight 90Kg. Those without having trained strength ever. My fat index is around 5.8%.

I have been reading and documenting myself about the theory of the different routines based on the goals (gaining strength vs hypertrophy). I took some time to find out my Max. Reps for all the exercises I do. Having calculated the thresholds from 100% (1Rep) to 60% (16Rep) and considering the premises I have read, I made a planning of 6 weeks for strength, 6 weeks for hypertrophy (first 3 weeks Torso/Legs and the remaining three, Fullbody). Frequency 3 days a week. It means, I do rotate the workouts every 3 days.

For example

  • Day 1: Toros Rest
  • Day 2: Legs Rest
  • Day 3: Torso Rest, Rest
  • Day 4: Legs

And so on.

That said, now I'm unsure how to set the progression in my routines of Hypertrophy. The thing is I actually do a weaved progression. For example

  • Bench press : 3 series of 12 (70%), 10 (75%), 8 (80%)
  • Curl Biceps: 3 series of 14 (65%), 12 (70%), 10 (75%)

From week to week I change the complementary exercises and the order of those, but not the number of series nor the thresholds.

I found this progression to be exhausting. I barely can finish the last series (80%) completely.

Since I'm not focusing on gaining strength at this moment, I was trying to figure out how to set a proper progression that allows me to generate stress during all the training without failing at the very end. I have read that is counterproductive to train that way (up to the fail).

Would be productive to do a more linear progression? For example, incrementing weight (2.5Kg to 5Kg) from week to week instead of from series to series. Let's say, the first week working around 65%, the 2nd week around 70% and the 3rd around the 75%.

For example

  • First week / Bench Press: 3x12 65%
  • Second week / Bench Press : 3x10 70%
  • Third week / Bench Press : 3x8 75%

Or no progression at all

For example

  • First week / Bench Press: 3x12 65%
  • Second week / Bench Press : 3x12 65%
  • Third week / Bench Press : 3x12 65%

When working hypertrophy, what's more important. The weight? The overall number of series? The time we put muscles under pressure?

For clarification. My main goal is rather aesthetic. I would be glad to improve strength too but I would like to focus only on one goal during the next weeks.

Thank you in advance and excuse my poor English :-)

  • I would just like to make a comment, that it's highly unlikely your body fat percentage that you've noted is correct. Body fat measuring procedures are typically very inaccurate, and only male bodybuilders in a competitive state will achieve <5% body fat. If you would like a more accurate indication of your body fat percentage try searching google images for 'body fat comparison chart' which will give you plenty of visual representations of what each grade of body fat % will most probably look like. – Tarius Jun 13 '18 at 17:28
  • Hi Tarius. Being honest, the ratio is the one my dietist measured the last time I did visit her. I'm also unsure about how precise is this ratio. I would take a look as you suggest and see how close or far I'm from that 5.8% – Laiv Jun 13 '18 at 17:35
  • Anyways, You hit on the nail. During those 15 years I almost wiped fats from my diet. My diet has been unbalanced for more than a decade. Without fat should be hard to gain weigth and muscle. That's what my dietist is working on. On tuning the diet according with my needs and goals. – Laiv Jun 13 '18 at 17:46
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    At a guess, your body fat percentage is probably somewhere between 10 an 15%, which is a typical range for an athlete. Below 10% is actually incredibly difficult to maintain and not particularly healthy or beneficial fitness wise to do so either, that's why only bodybuilders in a competitive state will do so. – Tarius Jun 13 '18 at 18:19
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If I were you I would focuse on progressive overload. Stay at the same % of your max, for example 3x10 70%, and then proceed to make it harder every week. If you don't change the % of your 1 rep max it's easier for you to see exactly how much you are progressing/stalling.

There are various techniques to overload, tiny increase in weight is the simplest, you can continue to do that until you fail to reach the reps of your first set, and then you can lower the weight a little bit but increase the amount of sets to help you break through the stalling weight. Other than that you should probably eat more because you still have a lot of room to increase weight at 62kg, but you probably already know this :)

Also check out these programs: https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/wiki/recommended_routines

(edited)

  • Hi Pablo! Thank you for the answer. I didn't mention it but my goal is hypertrophy. The reason of the strength cycle within the programming is to improve the marks and performance during the hypertrophy cycle. My priority is more aesthetic. The routines I made were not purely mine. I took them from already-known ones: varians of 5/3/1, Torso/Leg, HST, etc. Due to I only want to train 3 days a week, I have had to adapt these routines in order to work the boy as a whole, more than a sum of the parts (for instance, I don't follow Weider routines anymore). – Laiv Jun 13 '18 at 11:39
  • My biggest flaw (and the reason why I ask here) is that I'm too used to add progression as if I were training strength instead of hypertrophy. Some mates barely change the weights during the session and some works in the range of 60-65 with many reps. I miss at figuring out which progression they follow. – Laiv Jun 13 '18 at 11:42
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    Hi Chris! :) My bad for misunderstanding you! If I were you I would focuse on progressive overload. Stay at the same % of your max, for example 3x10 70%, and then proceed to make it harder every week. If you don't change the % of your 1 rep max it's easier for you to see exactly how much you are progressing/stalling. – Pablo Jun 13 '18 at 11:54
  • There are various techniques to overload, tiny increase in weight is the simplest, you can continue to do that until you fail to reach the reps of your first set, and then you can lower the weight a little bit but increase the amount of sets to help you break through the stalling weight. Other than that you should probably eat more because you still have a lot of room to increase weight at 62kg, but you probably already know this :) – Pablo Jun 13 '18 at 11:54
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    Thank you! That's the kind of answer I was looking for. I feel comfortable working within the range of 3x10 70% and overloading a little every week. If you edit the question adding what you mentioned here in the comments I could check it. – Laiv Jun 13 '18 at 12:27

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