Strength Gains: Helping Our Client to a 100kg Dumbbell Bench Press
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Brief Article Overview
- We recently had a client who’s aim it was to bench press the heaviest dumbbells in the gym (2 x 50kgs).
- We planned his training program based on principle of progressive overload.
- Initial strength gains were fairly drastic and linear.
- The more he developed on his strength journey, the more meticulous we had to be when it came to manipulating variables such as intensity, volume and frequency.
- Deload periods were crucial when ensuring recovery and adaptation.
- We provide an easy to follow and detailed explanation to Reza’s journey to the 50’s.
We have recently had some great success with one of our clients, Reza. He’s been strength training for several years and when he started training with Common Purpose he was already in pretty good shape. His main goal was fat loss and he targeted a Christmas holiday to Mexico as a target.
Having a fat loss goal can be quite broad and takes time to see a noticeable improvement. Sometimes, to focus our clients in the present moment, we search for performance-based goals along the way. Reza set his targets on trying the dumbbell bench press the heaviest weights in the gym, two 50kg dumbbells.
To be honest, we thought this target was unrealistic. The 50kg’s were gathering dust (we nicknamed them the “dust collectors”) and hadn’t been moved since they were originally placed in the gym during its fit-out! However, being ever the optimists and thinking such a target would capitalise on Reza’s pragmatic approach and laser focus, we decided to give it go and create a programme following the fundamental principles of progressive overload and periodisation.
Periodisation is simply systematic planning of athletic or physical training. In terms of a competitive athlete, the aim is to reach the best possible performance for competition. As it applies to Reza’s strength goals, it is a way of breaking up training progression. As you will see “de-load periods” are crucial, to prevent overtraining and allow the body to appropriately recover from the stress of resistance training.
Periodisation is both a science and an art, which requires the understanding of certain exercise science principles (psychology, physiology etc.) and applied to an individual’s response to training stimuli.
Progressive Overload 101
The whole aim of your training program is to gradually and strategically expose your body to higher amounts of stress stimuli. This is known as progressive overload and takes advantage of what’s known as a “super-compensation” effect. A training session puts a specific type of stress on the body, to which the body responds by adapting. This only occurs, however, if appropriate recovery takes place.
“Novice gains” occur when beginners make great improvements in strength or fitness. Unfortunately, this doesn’t continue linearly and will eventually slow down the fitter you get. As you progress along your training journey, you may need to prioritise specific areas of improvement, whilst maintaining what you’ve gained. The more advanced lifter, for example, will have to work harder for smaller gains and their training program will need to be more strategic and meticulous.
Back to Reza’s Story….
With this in mind, we chose to employ a “3 steps forward, 1 step back” when it came to his DB bench press. We gradually increased training volume, focusing on intensity (weight lifted), as the key progress indicator. We started higher reps (8-10) at a moderate weight, we then increased the weight, whilst decreasing the reps (1-3) on a session by session basis. The number of sets stayed the same.
Reza’s performance was recorded and charted meticulously. As soon as he missed a lift (indicating an approximate 1RM), we would then go back to the beginning of the cycle and repeat the process; with the idea that Reza would outperform his previous records.
Even after the first cycle, we were super impressed with Reza’s performance! Just some planned programming can do wonders to progress. His progress was rapid but what was most impressive was his focus, consistency and motivation! Interestingly, alongside his strength training, Reza adopted intermittent fasting and would only eat around his training session. Increasing strength and losing weight requires some serious dedication!
Here’s a graphic representation of Reza’s journey to the 50’s:
Months of solid work….and he’d done it! The 50kg dumbbells were his, and he had managed to be the first in the gym to lift them! Not only this, but he had achieved his fat loss target and built some muscle mass as well! The six-pack he was emerging just in time for his holiday to Mexico.
So with this in mind here are the principles of progressive overload for you to think about with your training. And we’d also encourage you to think about creating a few performance targets too and help you with your journey for fat loss, muscle building or whatever it is that you’re hoping to achieve.
Food for thought? If this has encouraged you to think about your health, fitness & wellbeing, why not click this link and fill out our enquiry form. We’d love to see how we can help you on your journey.
Disclosure: This article is not to be used as medical advice. If you are currently experiencing physical or mental health issues, please seek professional advice from a fully qualified Nutritionist, GP or Physiotherapist.