Barbell Strategy Strength Progression

The core principle at Barbell Strategy is that getting stronger will make you better at anything else you want to do. We believe in frequent exposure to movements that will make you stronger. We do something every day to progress your strength.

Every workout will start with a strength training phase where we will visit one of the core lifts. When you start, we expect that you will be lifting weights that feel ridiculously light for you. Proper form is the most important thing. We want every rep of every set to look beautiful. Then we add weight. Every time you revisit a movement, you need to go heavier than you did the last time. Progress only comes with lifting more weight. Once it's too heavy and your form suffers, we'll back it off and start over.

The lifts. We use the core strength lifts with a few variants to ensure that we're covering everything you'll need. Every day we will cycle through one of these strength movements.
Squat, Front Squat, Press, Push Press, Push-up, Deadlift, Power Clean, Power Snatch,Pull-up
The method. One of these movements will show up every day. You'll need to come to the gym often to see these movements with enough frequency to really progress. If you've been lifting long enough that you know your 1RM or 5RM for a lift, then we'll use that to gauge a good starting point. If you know your 1RM for a lift, the first time you see the lift we'll be working around 50% of that. If you know your 5RM for a lift, the first time you see the lift we'll want you around 70% of that. If you're new to all of this, we love that, you have no bad habits to unlearn! We'll work with you to find your starting weight, that will be a weight that you can lift 5 times quickly and with perfect form. It will feel light.

After you have your starting weight for each lift, every time that we revisit the lift we'll want you to add weight - somewhere in the 5-10 lb range depending on how fast you've been progressing. Once it gets too heavy and your form breaks down, we'll do a reset and start over. This has been proven time and time again as the best way to safely and effectively get strong.

Keep a log. Unless you think about this all the time, like I do, you'll need some type of log to know how much you lifted the last time you saw a movement. A simple notebook is fine, but if you want something a bit more structured, here's a PDF you can print out. Or if you want to go super fancy, I have a small pocket-sized log that you can purchase. This has both some strength logs and daily logs to keep track of your sleep, nutrition, and training (the big three for health!). I'm not making any money on this, that price is 100% the cost that Lulu charges to get it to you - I just wanted to give you a convenient way to log you workouts. If you get the small pocket-sized book, I'll even let you store it in the gym in a cubbie. Since they're all the same size, it will help with my OCD.

Daily habit. So what, specifically, are you to do? Check the blog or the board in the gym each day (or get the workout delivered to your inbox every morning automatically). Continue to do the normal on-your-own warm up when you come into the gym, then work on the strength workout. We'll be around to get you started if you're new, so don't worry. Before you start lifting, you want to make sure you warm up with the lift. We have a nifty calculator over to your right (or at the bottom if you're reading this on a mobile). That will tell you what warm-up sets to do before you go into your assigned work set. The key to the warm up is to get warmed up without getting too tired to make good use of your work sets. This 4-step warm up is a tried-and-true method, try to stick with it. While making big jumps and being too cold for your work sets is not great, I worry more about those of you who will take 20 small 5 lb steps up to your working weight - that will get you too tired and you won't be spending enough time at your work sets to get the right stimulus.
Consistent linear progress with resets when your form breaks down is is the safest and fastest way to get strong.