If you are looking to get stronger in a shorter amount of time, wave loading might just be the answer you are looking for. Find out what it is, how it works and how you can incorporate it into your training.
What is Wave Loading
Wave loading is an advanced technique in which you manipulate the number of sets, reps and weight you lift in ascending and/or descending order.
“It’s basically a trick to get your brain working at heavier loads for higher reps,” Marcus Filly says. Filly is the founder of the popular training program Functional Bodybuilding, which mixes functional exercises with aesthetic training and focuses on longevity.
But how exactly do you trick your brain into lifting more weight? Perhaps it is better to see what a wave loading example looks like.
Wave Loading Example
Check out an example of a wave load below:
- 8 reps of 200 lbs
- 6 reps of 220 lbs
- 4 reps of 240 lbs
- 8 reps of 205 lbs
- 6 reps of 225 lbs
- 4 reps of 245 lbs
On the first wave you do 3 sets in ascending order of amount of weight you lift, decreasing the number of reps. However, on the second wave, instead of going back to lifting 8 reps of 200 pounds, you do a slight increase in the amount of weight – in this case, a 5 pound increase.
This technique of doing waves of the same exercise, but with a slight increase on the second time, is called wave loading.
If the wave load were to continue on the example above, we could see, for example, these numbers:
- 8 reps of 210 lbs
- 6 reps of 230 lbs
- 4 reps of 250 lbs
- 8 reps of 215 lbs
- 6 reps of 235 lbs
- 4 reps of 255 lbs
By the time you have finished these 4 waves, you will have done 4 reps of 255 pounds. In comparison, in the first wave, you were lifting 200 pounds.
You may also use the “rapid wave loading” in which the weight difference between each set is bigger, but so is the number of reps. Here is an example:
- 6 reps of 200 lbs
- 1 rep of 260 lbs
- 6 reps of 210 lbs
- 1 rep of 270 lbs
Where Can I Apply Wave Loading?
This technique is reserved for intermediate to advanced lifters only. If you are familiar with pyramid sets, you may try a wave load.
You can utilise the wave load technique in nearly any exercise that you can easily overload – machine, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells.
“The wave load can be used for sets of 3, maybe sets of 6, maybe 9 sets in a given workout,” Filly explains. If using dumbbells, you might want to buy adjustable dumbbells as you can easily set them up at home and it uses less space.
Wave Loading EMOM Workout
Marcus Filly also comes up with a wave loading exercise for you to do at home with squats in a CrossFit style.
You must adjust the weight according to your needs and limitations – weight indications are not available for this workout.
Every minute on the minute perform a new set of squats:
- 6 reps
- 4 reps
- 3 reps
In the first minute perform 6 reps of squats. In the second minute do 4 reps and in the third minute do 3 reps of squats. For the purpose of the exercise, BOXROX recommends trying out the front squat or the back squat.
“With each decrease in repetitions, up your weight,” Filly says. “Now when you’re going for your 4th minute you are going back to 6 reps. So you’re going to have to decrease the weights slightly, but not as much as the first set of your EMOM.”
Marcus Filly did not explain for how long you should be doing this exercise. We recommend doing it for as long as you can perform the reps, increasing the weight accordingly, with proper form. As soon as you don’t have time to finish the reps and adjust the weight for the next minute, stop the workout.
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