I received a question about increasing the weight each workout from a long time follower of Weight Lifting Complete.
George is in his 60's and continues to lift weights and make amazing progress.
He wanted to know what he should do in terms of increasing the amount of weight he is lifting once it begins to become uncomfortable for his lower back.
He wasn't sure if he should push it and continue to go heavier each workout.
If you've read the WLC System manual, you'll know that I highly recommend increasing the weight you are lifting each and every workout.
But there's a trick to increasing the weight that we use within the WLC System.
You can read more about George's questions below and the correct method for building size and strength by lifting heavier weights every workout.
Questions About Increasing the Weight Each Workout
Subject: Increases in Amount of Weight Lifted
From: George S.
I have been doing the previous WLC program for about 10 weeks now, still growing in phase 1, I love it, and I have communicated with you before. I think I will stick with this program, I got another question for you though.
Like you recommended, I purchased the “Starting Strength” book, it states that it is more beneficial to do pendlay rows with perfect form, rather than try to do an insane amount of weight. 135lbs feels very comfortable for me, but your program states that you must go up in weight each work out for it to be effective.
Is this practice completely necessary for “assistant exercises” like the row?
I was up to 160lbs on the row, and even though I could lift it well, I felt a great deal of strain and discomfort in the lower back. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
Response to George from Josh
Hey George, great to hear from you again.
Glad you love using the WLC System and glad you are sticking with it. Like I've said, it does take hard work and dedication but you get amazing results for the hard work you put into it.
Nothing else out there compares.
Now let's get to your questions…
As you know and stated, the WLC System recommends that you increase the weight each workout. With most weight lifting programs that would be impossible because you're always lifting at full intensity every workout.
You would quickly overtrain and injure yourself if you tried to increase the weight every workout when training to failure every workout.
With the WLC System based weight training workouts, you first take a break from weight lifting. This break is a strategic break that gives your body a much needed rest from all the weight training you have been doing over the past few months.
When you come back from the break, you start out with really light weights so you don't add too much fatigue to your body in the beginning of a workout program.
If you've ever noticed… when you take a break from weight lifting and come back at it too hard, you'll get really sore. This is unnecessary stress added to your body that will lead to overtraining sooner rather than later.
Fatigue builds up over the weeks and starting out with too much intensity can hurt your efforts in the long run.
So start out with really light weights in the beginning of a weight lifting cycle. This then allows you to increase the weight every workout.
A good strategy, as designed in our workout programs, is to start out with light weights and lower reps. Then increase the reps up to a specific number. Then begin increasing the weight at the higher number of reps. From there, you can continue increasing the weight by lowering the number of reps you are doing.
Over the course of one of our weight lifting programs, you might go from lifting 135 pounds on the bench press to lifting over 300 pounds… as an example.
That huge increase in weight is seen by your body, specifically your muscles which are taking the load.
That huge increase leads to amazing gains in muscle size and muscle strength.
You're going to reach a point towards the end of a weight lifting cycle where the weight begins to get really heavy and feel very hard to lift. You're going to feel the weight begin to get too heavy for your body.
You have to use your judgement on when your body has had too much stress. Sometimes you are very near the edge of overtraining and pushing yourself too far could result in an injury.
Since you've been going for 10 weeks now and you're starting to feel some straining, you might be near the end of the weight training program.
If you're only having some issues with Pendlay Rows and feeling strong on the other exercises, you can decrease the weight on the Pendlay Rows by 10% and continue making progress from there.
Many times, this will help you extend the weight lifting cycle and make even better progress.
If you reach a point where you are having trouble making progress on most of the weight lifting exercises in your program, then you should definitely take that 7 to 14 day break from the gym.
You will then start with light weights again and strive to beat your previous cycle weights.
As this cycle continues, you continue to make amazing gains as you increase the amount of weight you are lifting each workout.
Always pay attention to your body, warm up properly, and push yourself but do so intelligently. If something isn't feeling right in a given workout, take it easy that workout and come back hard the next workout.
Some Information on Pendlay Rows That Might Help
Many people have trouble with Pendlay Rows and bent over rows. Their lower backs start acting up with this exercise, especially when the weights begin to get heavy.
One of my favorite exercises to build width and depth in the back is the 1-arm row. You can really get in an athletic position and use huge dumbbells for this exercise. You can focus more on pulling with your back muscles instead of worrying about your lower back.
One of the issues with 1-arm dumbbell rows is grip strength and New Grips can definitely help with that and make it easier to grip the weights.
So I highly recommend 1-arm dumbbell rows as a substitute for Pendlay Rows or Bent Over Barbell Rows.
I also recommend using your entire body and making the 1-arm dumbbell row a whole body movement. Many people will recommend using very strict form and using light weights. Of course, use light weights when first learning the exercise but there's no need to be really strict with this movement.
Use your legs, arms, back, and entire body to perform the movement as shown in the video above. You might be surprised at how much you can lift. Don't do too much, though. Be smart and safe, always.
Just so you know… the man in the video above is one of the strongest in the world so don't attempt that amount of weight!
The only drawback to 1-arm rows is you have to do 1 arm at a time so it increases your workout time slightly. But other than that, they have advantages over the other rowing exercises. The biggest advantage being the lower back stress and being able to focus in on using the back muscles to pull the weight.
Good luck George, and I hope this helps you. Keep working hard. You are doing an amazing job!
Be careful with your lower back and give 1-arm dumbbell rows a shot. You'll love them.