1. Hey Andy/Eric,

    Quick question on RPE – I’ve been using the wave loading progression. For my first mesocycle, I was able to hit an RPE of 8 on the first set of every exercise as prescribed on the Intermediate program. After a deload in Week 4, I upped the weights on all my compounds and aimed for more reps on my isolation movements.
    However, my first set RPE is now more around 9 than 8, so by the end of the second set of my exercises I’m already close to failure. So what do I do? I know progressive overload via lifting heavier weights over time is key. Do I push past the prescribed RPE just for the sake of progressive overload? Or do I stick strictly to the 8 RPE and just lift the same weights as I did the last mesocycle? I guess I could always add sets to increase volume if I can’t increase the weight but I don’t want to overreach/overtrain. Kinda stuck right now. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for the question.

      Strength fluctuates, so if this was for one session or a couple of sessions, that’d be normal.

      Progress doesn’t always occur s planned, so even in the case that this is happening for the full week, then stick at the same loads as the last mesocycle as it’s likely you just needed longer to adapt.

      If this doesn’t work, here’s a troubleshooting guide: How to Break Training Plateaus.

  2. Hey Andy,
    Question on intermediate progression on compound exercises with dumbbells. I use dumbbells for my chest presses and shoulder press. I’m debating whether to wave load or use linear progression with these exercises.

    Thanks in advance.

  3. Mark Anthony Grant

    In the wave loading intermediate compound movement progression. How do you adjust your week to week sessions if you miss a workout? Assuming doing a bench press 8-6 reps x 3.

    Week 1: 100 lb x 8,8,8
    Week 2: 105 lb – 7,7,7 (missed workout)
    What do you do for week 3?

  4. Let’s say you use intermediate progression and do the module where for example:
    Week 1 3 sets of 8
    Week 2 3 sets of 7
    Week 3 3 sets of 6

    Do I increase loads independently on each week? What I mean is, for example week 1 I did all 3 sets of 8 and still managed to have a lower rpe than prescribed. Do I then only increase week 1 weights for the 3 Sets of 8 I lift with, or do I increase weights universally for the week 2 and week 3 where I lift more there too because my 3 sets of 8 got stronger. Am I assuming I got stronger on my 3 sets of 7 and 3 sets of 6 cause of this?

  5. Quick question about RPE,

    So as an intermediate, if I’m clear, can you aim for rpe of 9 on your first set and then decrease weight to finish the remainder sets and reps prescribed? So if your doing 3 sets of 10 for bench, you do
    Set 1 : 10 reps at 200 pounds rpe 9
    Set 2: 10 reps at 190 pounds rpe 9
    Set 3: 10 reps at 185 pounds rpe 9

    If the above is fine, how do you know when to increase your initial set the next time your feeling strong? Do I just do the 200 pounds again on a “strong” day and then if it feels like a rpe 8 on the first set, I do 200 again on the second which makes it a rpe 9, then 190 on the third for an Rpe 9(due to fatigue), giving me an indication to do 205 on my next strong day as that might be a Rpe 9 if 200 isn’t anymore ?

  6. Hi!

    Can double progression be used for the big compounds instead of the wave loading? I have really been enjoyng this method for my isolations and could see myselfe using it for my deadlifts and maybe bench press as well.

  7. hi there
    say im following the novice progression scheme and i have the same movement 2 days in a week but using different rep ranges (Mon: Bench 4×5 thur: bench 3×12). If i stall on monday and i have to deload, will i need to decrease load for both workout days or only for the day where i stalled?
    Thank you

  8. Hi Andy,

    I had a question about maintenance. I understand you need to progress by adding more volume gradually, then deload to let fatigue dissipate. But what about when you just want to go through a maintenance phase? How do you know how much to adjust because you don’t want to be doing too little to lose your muscle and not too much to injure your self because you’re eating at maintenance?

    Is it that you just do what you’re doing now but avoid adding more weight or reps and that should be fine or is the volume much much lower? Can you elaborate on this, please? Thank you

    1. We don’t exactly, but a maintenance stimulus will be a little less than an adaptive stimulus. Simplest thing to do is to cut back on volume by cutting down the set numbers. If you maintain your lifts – great. If you start to fall back, you took it too far.

  9. 3 questions.

    1. I assume that I shud be lifting every other day?
    2. If #1 above is correct, do I need 2 days rest at the end of each 4 day program in a week?
    3. For the lift sets of 1-3 reps, how many reps do I decline each week? In other words, I can’t decline by 1 each week or I will be at 0 reps by Week/Session 4?


    1. 1/2. Spread your workouts across the week. Don’t have three consecutive days back to back. You’ll end up with two sessions back to back at the minimum, as there are 7 days in a week, not 9.
      3. On the fourth week do 1.

  10. How would one progress with the linear periodization if they train in the same rep range throughout the week, say 3×8 bench press Mon/Wed/Fri? Starting with 3×8 and then -1 Rep + 2.5Kg every 2 days will probably be too much too soon. Or does this simply reflect that the rep schemes from workout to workout also need/should be periodized and changes in load/reps should still occur only once per week?

    Thank you for taking the time.

  11. Hey Andy, I came over from Greg nuckles article on “two ways to make your novice strength training program better” the first piece of advice was petiodizing when you stall (switch rep schemes), and adding volume when you stall. For example switching 3×5, to 5×3, to 5×5, or 3×10, to 4×8, to 4×10. Do you think it would be beneficial if we implemented this on your novice bodybuilding program?

    1. Thanks for the answer, I have one more question. On your novice bodybuilding program, do you think that adding volume when you stalled on progression is a good idea? I feel like my body adapted, and I’ve been doing the same volume for 9 weeks.

    2. Ive been loving the intermediate program, I’m just a little confused on the deload. After every 4 weeks I should decrease the sets by 2 or drop weight by 10% but when do I do a full deload?

    3. The ‘10% rule’ is for the novice progression, the ‘2 set rule’ is part of the intermediate progression models. Novice progression is faster than intermediate progression, so use those rules while you can for the exercises that you can.

  12. Hi Andy,

    I had a question about progression which has been bugging me and my current routine.

    I followed your book on creating a routine for my self with your guidelines.

    Here’s an example, on the low end of the rep range I do 40 reps per sessions for quads, so 80 reps per week. So 1/3 27 and 2/3 is 53. (I rounded up) Now I assigned the strength volume part to two thirds and hypertrophy 1/3. Now, you do squats, leg extensions etc.

    Now, I’m at a stage where I’ve reached the max weight on the leg extensions by doing 4 sets of 6 reps and because I need to progressively overload and I can’t add more weight to the machine, what do I do here, add another set? But in doing so, doesn’t it mess up the ratio I have in place in terms of having 1/3 in strength range and 2/3 in hypertrophy?

    How do you deal with adding more volume for a certain exercise alone without affecting the other because I can still progress in the squats for instance, its going well but I can’t do more on the leg extensions and need to progress, how do I go about it? Do I rearrange the volume globally now and say, right increase 10% and adjust the 1/3 of that straight rep range.

    Or am I so stuck on this rep range and ratios that as long as you increase volume, doesn’t matter?

    I would very much appreciate your comments on this, even though it could be simple.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thanks for reply.

      But I didn’t understand your answer very clearly, sorry.

      Because I have those ratios in place as you recommend, me adding another set of leg extensions changes that ratio more and favours a different intensity range.

      Here’s what I mean, because I have my strength workout in pace I’ve assigned 2/3 of that reps in the 1-6 rep range and the other 1/3 in 8-15. Now as I said, I have my squats in place and other compound but the leg extensions I do in the 8-15. Now I’ve reached the maximum so I can’t add more weight so another set is ideal but doing so changes the whole total reps in your guidelines and the ratio isn’t 1/3 or 2/3.

      So your answer was if it gets to that point, increase globally 10-15% and rearrange the volume for quads? But what if I don’t need to change anything on my main lifts like the squats since I’m doing well in that exercise and progressing and adding another set of that maybe because of the volume increase messes it up?

      I think I have a case of analysis paralysis.

    2. What I am saying is that the ratios are merely guidelines from which to start. You adjust from there.

      I am not suggesting that you adjust your whole program, just those exercises.

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