When Not to Add Weight or Volume to a Lift

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a wee while now, but as I’ve had a few of the busiest weeks in Wild Geese history, which by the way have included my wife rescuing two kittens left in a bag and also my eldest boy turning 6.

Purrnard & Kurtains look to making themselves quite at home....

Purrnard & Kurtains look to making themselves quite at home….

But then this afternoon when my BJJ guys come in for their S&C session, one of them asked a question.

I like questions.

It shows me that the guys I’m training actually give a shit and genuinely want to not only come in and mindlessly do the work, but want to understand the processes behind the program they’re following.

This is the reason I love what I do.
If I just stood in front of a class and gave orders, I’d be bored out of my brain, but when the guys question and challenge me, I have to prove to them I know what I’m about. And this particular dude isn’t a native English speaker, he’s Polish. So when he’s halfway through a session with music blaring and asks a question. I have to not only know what I’m talking about but be able to phrase it simply enough that he understands but not so simple as to be patronising.

If you’re moving into coaching for a living, read that paragraph again. And again.
Anytime your client is in front of you, struggling, straining, panting and giving it socks. You better know how to make your instructions as simple as possible, cos I guarantee you now, they couldn’t care less about fancy latin terminology, Bsc, Msc or Phd. All they care about is how you are making them better.

But back to the question.

“On this exercise, will I now do more?”

My answer,



Simple eh?

No, I didn’t leave him hanging, I explained why.

The exercise in question was the last superset of a three superset workout.
He’s done the big strength lifts, a Squat and a Press.
He’s followed that with specific core and scapular work.
He’s now moving to movement integration work, or loaded mobility.

As the mobility work is very much about quality, there’s no point in adding any load or volume to the drill until the drill is being done with adequate levels of proficiency.

When it comes to these type of drills, progress is in quality not quantity. Are the hips moving better? can we keep the heels down longer? are the transitions smoother? are the end positions held solidly?

When my lads look like this, they can progress.....

When my lads look like this, they can progress…..

Until all the boxes are ticked, why would we move any faster or do any further reps?

Now today’s question was asked in the context of this particular workout. Lukasz was feeling good and want to push.
But in the grander scheme of things, quality should ALWAYS be a precursor to quantity.

Why would you add weight to the bar when you squat if your hips pop up on the ascent?
Why would you do an extra set on the deadlift if you’re rounding your back on all previous sets?
Why would you do another rep on the push up when your back is sagging?
Why do an extra pull up when you didn’t touch the bar on the previous reps?

Why not keep the sets, reps and rest periods the same and instead focus on doing it better, and THEN add weight/volume?


Dave Hedges



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