What Type Of Weight Training Progression?


I am a 30 yr old Army Veteran. My teenage years were spent skinny. After a 3 yr tour in the Army Infantry I gained 20lbs of muscle.

My joints aren’t what they used to be. I lift 4 days a week and have started a routine I read in your article for the best repetition range.

It states how you use your 1 rep max to do 5 sets, with the 1st 3 sets being a warm up. If I do Chest and Triceps on the same day, do I do all my exercises the same way?

Start out with flat bench using your routine, then go to Incline dumbbell press the same way? Or I am already warmed up and use a weight I can get 10-12 reps for X amount of sets? Thank you for your time, and a very intuitive website.

– Gary


Thanks for the question Gary.

I think you’re referring to the article I wrote back in November of last year. For those of you who haven’t seen it, you can view it here.

In the article, I don’t recommend using a one rep maximum effort. What I do recommend is that you work up to a weight that allows you to barely get 8 repetitions with on your final set.

This weight will be used as your final work set for that exercise until you can perform 12 repetitions with that weight – Unassisted.

For example. Let’s say I work up to 185 pounds in the bench press. I barely get 7 repetitions with this weight.

My goal is to get 12 unassisted repetitions over the course of my training cycle (8 to 12 weeks). Once I can perform 12 repetitions, I will increase the weight by 10% to 15% and do it all over again.

In this case, I’ll use around 205 pounds as my starting weight and aim for 8 repetitions. I’ll do another training cycle and aim for 12 unassisted repetitions with 205 pounds.

I always do the first two exercises in this manner. Usually my third exercise is an isolation exercise but, I still try and increase the weight or repetitions for this exercise.

However, I usually always do 12 repetitions for my isolation exercises. Let’s take a look at an example of training chest and triceps.

My routines is as follows:


• Bench press; 3 warm up sets – 1 work set
• Incline dumbbell press; 2 to 3 warm up sets – 1 work set
• Flat bench fly’s – 3 sets of 12


• Close grip bench press; 2 to 3 warm up sets – 1 work set
• Standing cable press downs; 2 to 3 warm up sets – 1 work set
• Seated french press – 3 sets of 12

In this case, I’d do the first two exercises in the manner I described in the article. The third exercise is usually an isolation exercise and the weight will vary but the intensity will usually stay the same.

You can follow the progression with these isolation exercises if you wish, but I treat them a little differently and stay within a set repetition range and weight.

My progression always stays the same for the first two exercises for any muscle group. The first two or three sets are treated as a warm up and the last one being the “all out effort” set. For my last exercise, I’ll jump to 12 repetitions and use the same weight.

I hope this helps.

All the best,


Blake Bissaillion

Blake has been weight lifting for about 28 years now. He's 45 years of age and started seriously training when he was 18 years old.

Blake is the founder of Building-Muscle101.com, a successful fitness website that has been around for more than 15 years.