Wave Loading

Discussion in 'Strength-Specific Training (SST)' started by QuantumPositron, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member

    I've been reading about wave loading over at T-Nation (see
    the wave loading manifesto). I found one post by an
    individual who uses it to increase his powerlifting
    performance. I am interested in wave loading as a way to
    keep the gains coming. According to its progenitors wave
    loading is Eastern Bloc stuff. Has anyone tried it? Does it
    produce results after the "newbie gains" stop? What do you
    think about it?
  2. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    Fausto-like quote:

    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE"> Types of Wave Loading

    There are three main types of wave loading: single wave, rapid wave and multiple wave.

    1. Single Wave: Here are some guidelines about this type of wave loading:

    • A single wave will typically involve 3 or more sets, rarely exceeding 4 or 5 sets.

    • The most typical wave is downwards but understand the difference—waves from high rep to low rep favor muscle size; waves from low to high favor muscle strength. This distinction is subtle, but worth sharing.

    • Wave loading above 6 reps usually jumps 2 reps from set to set.

    • Wave loading below 6 reps will more likely jump 1 rep from set to set.

    Examples: (The loading shown is for illustration only. There's no message as to percentage changes from set to set!)

    Beginner/low level single waves:

    Size based single wave:

    1 x 10 @ 60kg
    1 x 8 @ 70kg
    1 x 6 @ 80 kg (descending)

    Strength based single wave:

    1 x 6 @ 80kg
    1 x 8 @ 70kg
    1 x 10 @ 60 kg (ascending)

    Intermediate/medium level single waves:

    Size based single wave:

    1 x 8 @ 80kg
    1 x 6 @ 85kg
    1 x 4 @ 90 kg (descending)

    Strength based single wave:

    1 x 4 @ 90kg
    1 x 6 @ 85kg
    1 x 8 @ 80 kg (ascending)

    Advanced/high level single waves:

    Size based single wave:

    1 x 6 @ 85kg
    1 x 4 @ 90kg
    1 x 2 @ 95 kg (descending)

    Strength based single wave:

    1 x 2 @ 95kg
    1 x 4 @ 90kg
    1 x 6 @ 85 kg (ascending)

    Don’t assume from the above examples that there are limits to the combination of reps and sets used in single wave loading. For example, in very advanced trainees, my single wave is more likely to look like the below (or it can even be lower):

    Size based single wave:

    1 x 4 @ 90kg
    1 x 3 @ 95kg
    1 x 2 @ 100 kg (descending)

    Strength based single wave:

    1 x 2 @ 100kg
    1 x 4 @ 95kg
    1 x 6 @ 90 kg (ascending)

    2. Rapid Wave: Here are some guidelines about this type of wave loading:

    • Rapid waves will typically involve 4 or more sets.

    • The most typical wave is progressively downwards.

    • Jumps in loading from set to set in rapid wave loading may be more aggressive than single or multiple wave loading, e.g. can involve differences up to 5 reps.

    • Multiple wave loading is more likely to be applied to the intermediate or advanced trainee.

    • Rapid wave loading is more commonly conducted at or below 6 reps.


    Intermediate/medium level single waves:

    1 x 6 @ 85.0 kg
    1 x 1 @ 100.0 kg
    1 x 6 @ 90.0 kg
    1 x 1 @ 105.0 kg
    1 x 15 @ 60.0 kg

    Advanced/high level single waves:

    1 x 4 @ 92.5 kg
    1 x 1 @ 107.5 kg
    1 x 4 @ 95.0 kg
    1 x 1 @ 110.0 kg
    1 x 10 @ 70.0 kg

    Again, don’t assume from the examples that there are limits to the combination of reps and sets used in rapid wave loading. In more advanced trainees, you may see something like this:

    1 x 5 @ 92.5 kg
    1 x 1 @ 107.0 kg
    1 x 4 @ 95.0 kg
    1 x 1 @ 110.0 kg
    1 x 3 @ 97.5 kg
    1 x [email protected] 70.0 kg
    1 x [email protected] 55.0 kg

    3. Multiple Wave: Here are some guidelines:

    • A multiple wave will typically involve 2 waves, but rarely exceeds 3 waves.

    • The most typical wave is downwards.

    • Multiple wave loading is usually done under 6 reps. If used in reps over 6, be mindful of the impact of volume.

    • Multiple wave loading can involve jumps of 1-3 reps from set to set, most typically 1-2.

    • The less the change in reps between sets, the less the change in load.

    • Second and subsequent waves are typically done (and this is generally the intent) at higher loads than the load used in the corresponding sets in the first wave.

    • Multiple wave loading is more likely to be applied to the intermediate or advanced trainee.

    • The second wave doesn't have to mirror the first wave, but most commonly does.


    Intermediate/medium level double wave:

    1 x 5 @ 87.5kg
    1 x [email protected] 92.5kg
    1 x 3 @ 97.5 kg
    1 x 5 @ 90.0kg
    1 x [email protected] 95.0kg
    1 x 3 @ 100 kg

    Advanced/high level single waves:

    1 x 3 @ 97.5kg
    1 x [email protected] 100.0kg
    1 x 1 @ 102.5 kg
    1 x 3 @ 100kg
    1 x [email protected] 102.5kg
    1 x 1 @ 105.0 kg

    In advanced trainees, you may see the following:

    1 x 4 @ 95.0kg
    1 x [email protected] 100.0kg
    1 x 2 @ 105.0 kg
    1 x 3 @ 100kg
    1 x [email protected] 105.0kg
    1 x 1 @ 107.5 kg

    Tips to Optimize Results from Wave Loading Methods

    As foreign as some of these wave methods are to you, so will be the psychology needed to optimize them. Take the 5/1/5/1 method. From the time this method was introduced into America by the former Romanian weightlifting coach (brought to the US by US Weightlifting to train their athletes) in the early 1990’s, it was evident that the loading parameters needed a user guide! The following is aimed at being that &quot;user guide!&quot;

    Tip #1: You can use low reps most of the time, provided you respect them.

    I didn’t realize this would've been needed in this &quot;guide&quot; until I was exposed to frequent expressions from North Americans along the lines of, &quot;But you can’t go heavy too often or you'll overtrain.&quot; When I asked for an explanation, I learned that many believed you can’t train under 6 reps for extended periods of time. Or, that if you go low rep for upper body, you can't also go low rep for lower body in the same week.

    I was stunned by these paradigms, but in case you too have been conditioned to this, I've given this priority in the guide book. Let me assure you it's okay to use low reps for extended periods of time and even on all workouts in a given week! You just need to be aware of a number of guidelines, which I share with you below.

    Tip #2: You don’t have to go maximum every set. In fact, you shouldn’t!

    That &quot;balls to the wall&quot; psyche evident in North American strength training is damaging enough with higher reps, but may be even more insidious with lower reps/higher load.

    Depression of the nervous system from more neural-oriented training may have more serious side-effects. Now this could be achieved from higher reps also, but possibly achieved more quickly with lower reps. Understandably, perhaps this is where the belief arose that you can't use low reps for extended periods of time. You can, just understand that you can't afford to go max effort every set, every workout, every week.

    Commonly used ergogenics may have more ability to protect you and assist recovery from more metabolic based training (higher reps), but there are less options that will effectively protect/recover you from neural fatigue.

    Tip #3: Understand what the purpose of the wave is and protect it.

    Each wave has a unique or specific purpose. These include the following:

    • Descending waves allow you to bring together neural strength and rehearsal. This is best when you're still gaining the skills needed. Don’t go max on the early sets as the fatigue will inhibit the loading on subsequent sets.

    • Ascending waves allow you to gain exposure to maximal loading without the prior fatigue of higher rep sets. So, in using your warm-up sets, make sure you progress to the loading of the first work set so that it isn't too much of a shock to the body, but consider keeping the warm-up reps low.

    • Rapid wave sets are for the most part intended for the lower rep sets to enhance the work capacity of the higher rep sets. For example, in a 5/1/5/1, the aim of the 1 rep set is to help you lift heavier than you normally would in the second set of 5 reps. Going to close to max in your 1 rep sets will limit this.

    It'll also limit your ability to raise the load in any subsequent lower rep sets. Going too heavy in any of the original sets (in this case the first 5 and the first 1) will damage your ability to benefit from the neural dis-inhibition of the second respective exposures (in this case, the second 5 and second 1.)

    • Multiple wave sets are intended for the exposure of the first wave to enhance the second wave, and if there's a third wave, the second wave to enhance the third wave. Therefore it's critical that you limit the residual fatigue in any wave prior to the final wave.

    • When using wave loading to increase the speed of movement, the same overall principle as discussed in the 5/1/1/5 example above should be applied—if you go too heavy in a prior set, it may limit the transfer of improved speed of movement through to subsequent sets.

    Additionally, during sets specifically focused on improved speed, make sure this is your focus and it occurs. These guidelines have important application to Olympic weightlifting and other explosive oriented lifts.

    Tip #4: Longer rest periods should be used.

    As most wave loading involves lower reps (lower than 6), you should be using longer rest periods (3 minutes or more). There's an inverse relationship between reps and rest period, where the lower the reps the longer the rest period should be. The additional benefit that rest period manipulation offers is in the event that your prior load selection has been higher than ideal. You can take a longer than planned rest period in an attempt to compensate or make up for this error.

    Tip #5: You're going to need a spotter more often than with other training methods.

    Because of the higher exposure to low rep sets, be prepared to engage a spotter more often. This has implications for those who are training by themselves or where experienced spotters are lacking. Modify your load selection in respect of these limitations.

    Tip #6: When using multiple waves, use a lesser number of exercises.

    Be very aware that once you add a second or more waves, you're significantly raising the volume of the workout. Provided you have a volume limit you adhere to, you'll need to use fewer exercises.

    For example, if I'm using the rapid wave method involving 5 sets, I prefer to limit it to 2 exercises. When using a double wave, I choose not to use a double wave on a second exercise if I were to include it. When using a third wave, I'd only use one exercise for the workout. These examples are based on a volume cap of about 10-12 work sets for the workout. I apply an inverse relationship between the number of sets per exercise and the number of exercises in the workout.</div>

    The first type of loading is simply HIT. The latter are somewhat like the low-rep stages of a strength routine. It lacks simplicity and it isn't user-friendly (unload, load, unload during re-racks).
  3. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    (colby2152 @ Oct. 23 2007,23:18)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">The first type of loading is simply HIT.  The latter are somewhat like the low-rep stages of a strength routine.  It lacks simplicity and it isn't user-friendly (unload, load, unload during re-racks).</div>
    I can't see any similarity with HIT. The guidelines actually state that &quot;You don’t have to go maximum every set. In fact, you shouldn’t!&quot;

    It all just looks like a way to get some folks trying a fancy rep scheme that amounts to just a ramp up and a ramp down. Big deal! I don't think there's anything we can gain from this wave idea that we can't already better with standard progression style training.
  4. RUSS

    RUSS Member

  5. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I can't see any similarity with HIT. The guidelines actually state that &quot;You don’t have to go maximum every set. In fact, you shouldn’t!&quot;</div>

    The rep-load scheme looked like it was HIT.
  6. TunnelRat

    TunnelRat Active Member

    (RUSS @ Oct. 24 2007,08:10)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I personally find &quot;Ladders&quot; to be a more user friendly &quot; wave like&quot; scheme .</div>
    And here all along I thought &quot;Chutes and Ladders&quot; was a kids' game... [​IMG]
  7. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member


    Great link on the ladders. I read it and the link to a MILO article:

    &quot;Vitaly Regulyan, one of the top Russian benchers, does fifty
    to seventy heavy sets per lift! What are YOU waiting for? A
    permission slip from Mike Mentzer?&quot;

    RFLOL. Love it.
  8. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    I just skimmed that, but it sure seems like &quot;waves&quot; in these various paradygms are what have been called pyramids, railroads, and things we've done before. Another turn of the wheel, I guess.
  9. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member

    I always thought pyramiding was something you saw in
    bodybuilding mags cause that's where I saw them.

    Do you think this stuff works Quadancer? (for strength,
    not hypertrophy).
  10. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    Aw, you wanna make me STUDY that thing?[​IMG] [​IMG] Shucks, I was just referring to the terminology used...but short and simple, yes, it probably does. Keeping in mind however, that virtually ANY program you use can have results for a while. I've always believed that you can use one program after another and get results of a sort, due to shock value, changeup and so forth.
    I think the best question is &quot;is it best for strength?&quot;
    Possibly. If you consider the reason Max-Stim is so effective (Motor Unit recruitment) you can see one thing MS leaves out- conditioning. You can add strength up to a point IMO, but to go beyond that you'll need the ability to do reps, which the &quot;wave&quot; loading schemes incorporate, disregarding the MU sparing effects, as they &quot;trade off&quot; the work until the last reps of the sets, where they all have to join in the fun. It's a bit of a classical argument.
    I think you'd have to be in the right condition using the right pattern and have all your other variables (food, sleep) lined up for it to be perfect for you. I did like that it took into account for beginner to advanced.
    Having not done it exactly (I have done many pyramids however) my opinion is baseless.
  11. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member

    Oh Ok. Well, with the limitations of research sometimes the only way to know is to try.

    Motor unit recruitment...hmm. Isn't that just about using the correct %RM? I found an article once and damn me for not saving it. The author recounted research and basically listed the %RM required per muscle to cause max recruitment as determined by EMG. Maybe I should put up a wanted post like deolmsted did in General Training.
  12. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    You lucky Dog. I saved it! [​IMG]

    &quot;Each individual motor neuron controls a bundle of muscle fibers called a motor unit. The more motor units (MUs) we recruit the more tension we produce which is translated into force. When we lift max-stim style, the loads are relatively high (60%-95% of our 1rm). We also lift with full force, meaning fast reps. In a full force contraction, ALL MUs are being fired simultaneously in a state of complete tetanus. (tetanus means the MUs are firing in a rapid series, so rapid that the multiple twitches appear to be one continuous, smooth contraction.) This is full-fiber recruitment, all MUs are participating in the contraction, producing 100% of their force capability. This of course puts enormous strain on the muscle and depletes their energy reserves rapidly. These full-force contractions produce the greatest stimulus for hypertrophy. However, such contractions cannot be long sustained due to fatigue. When lifting lighter loads that do not require full-force, the MNs (motor neurons) fire on a rotating basis. (X) amount of MUs are needed to produce (Y) amount of force. Since (X) is less than the sum total of all MUs, then some MUs are resting while others are firing. They alternate 'shifts' so that each MU has a chance to rest while others are firing. In this case since only partial recruitment is occuring, it takes longer for the muscle to fatigue and thus fatigue must be first induced in the muscle before full recruitment can occur.

    So when lifting your 15 rm and going to failure, full-recruitment doesn't occur until the last few reps. The last few reps seem harder because some of the MUs have already fatigued (depleted energy reserves), so full recruitment is necessary to keep lifting. When failure occurs, enough MUs are fatigued to the point that force production is too small too overcome the resistance.
    HIT training gets some full-recruitment, which is good, but at the expense of heavy fatigue, which is bad for muscle contraction and recovery.

    Max-Stimulation training gets full-recruitment (or very close) on each and every rep for multiple reps. The m-time between each rep allows the muscle to restore some lost energy reserves, putting off fatigue and allowing more total reps. More heavy reps = more full-force contractions, and hence maximal stimulation of the hypertrophy response.&quot;
  13. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    Does wave loading really work for strength? It still looks like a glorified high intensity training regiment to me.
  14. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member

    I found a T-nation member that claims he's been using it to successfully increase his bench, squat, and deadlift. He's a recreational powerlifter.
  15. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    (QuantumPositron @ Dec. 21 2007,13:53)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">I found a T-nation member that claims he's been using it to successfully increase his bench, squat, and deadlift. He's a recreational powerlifter.</div>
    It may be worth an experiment by me. I'll see what others have to say about in my other strength threads.
  16. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    Look at my return to BB thread and you'll see where I'm using single &quot;wave&quot; ascending sets (or as we know them, pyramids) and increasing strength. Right now I'm eating DOMs for lunch, so will back off or stay at this weight for another workout. I don't fear hitting maxes in the cycle; it's what you do afterward that counts. I'm buzzin' around 3 reps anyway.

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