Most periodized training programs or cycles assume that you are at your strongest every day. For example, the microloading technique has you increase the weight you use by 2.5 to 5 pounds weekly. A better technique — such as autoregulatory progressive resistance training — adjusts the weight according to how strong you are for that workout.
University of Missouri (Columbia) researchers studied two groups of trained lifters for 6 weeks. One group followed an APR program and the other followed a standard linear periodization program, gradually increasing weight each week starting at 8 reps per set in the first week and ending at 4 reps per set.
The researchers discovered that the group using APR increased their bench press and squat strength significantly more than the linear periodized group.
When training for strength, your best bet appears to be APR training for 4-8 weeks.
To use APR training, choose three rep ranges to alternate between, such as 10 reps, 6 reps and 3 reps. Using 6 reps as an example, on each exercise do four sets total, including warm-ups. On the first set, do 10 reps using 50% of your 6-rep max. On the second, do 6 reps using 75% of your 6-rep max. On the third, use 100% of your 6-rep max and do as many sets as you can until you reach muscle failure.
The amount of weight you use on the fourth set will depend on how many reps you completed on the third set. If you did 5-7 reps, keep the weight the same. If you could do 8-10 reps, add 5 pounds; for 11-12 reps, add 10 pounds; and for 13 or more reps, add 15 pounds. However, if you could only do 3-4 reps, drop the weight by 5 pounds; if you reached only 1 or 2 reps, drop the weight by 10 pounds.
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