20% strength increase? That’s all you got? Yes, it may not sound like a big deal. But it’s easy to achieve massive strength gains for absolute beginners or if your whole lifestyle revolves around the gym. Why 20% strength is a big a deal for me is because it’s a huge increase from my personal record and a plateau that I couldn’t break for years. And my numbers just keep on going up and up with every workout. But I wanted to share some of my experience as I just hit the 20% increase milestone.
Throughout the year my weight fluctuates between 160-170lbs. In summer I’m much lighter as I do more cardio, eat more salads and proteins. But like a bear in winter, I pack on some calorie reserves. I do not adhere to strict diets for long periods of time, but I do experiment with some for about a month or two at a time. Here’s my most recent experiment with paleo diet.
I’ve got multiple life demands and interests that keep me occupied from sunrise to sundown. The only time I hit the gym is when everyone is still asleep. Nonetheless, I make the most of my time with the weights. Always trying to march closer to my fitness goals.
Earlier this year I started using a PUSH tracker. It’s a sports wearable that helps you track and optimize your training. Check out my PUSH tracker review. I was seduced by it’s application of velocity-based-training (VBT) and instant bio feedback it provided after each set. I didn’t fully commit to VBT as not all exercises I perform are available for tracking, but I do use it when I can and definitely with standard lifts such as bench presses, squats, and deadlifts.
One of the exercises I fully committed to with VBT was Incline Bench Press. It is available for tracking with PUSH band, it’s one of my favorite movements and I’ve been doing since the first time I stepped into a gym.
In the past the most weight on Incline Press I could push was typically in the 135-155lbs range, peaking at 170lbs.
The time range in the chart is in mid-2008 to early 2010. There’s no steady improvement or any upward trend whatsoever. In 1.5 years you’d think there would be something. Nothing, there’s absolutely nothing.
Fast forward a few years, I still live a similar lifestyle. Don’t follow strict diet protocols, still hit the gym early in the morning. Still do same exercises. Still train one muscle group roughly once every 5-7 days. The only thing that’s different is that I’m older and I’ve implemented velocity-based-training with exercises tracked by PUSH.
Now, take a look where I’m at with VBT:
205lbs is my new best PR. Works out to be just over 20% gain. Compared to the previous periods, this is a significant gain in a relatively short period of time of just 3 months. No crazy diets. No drugs. No ‘secret’ methods. Just velocity-based-training.
I tracked my training using the PUSH band. Using a feature called PUSH Assist, it recommended how much weight I should load after each set.
In a nutshell, here’s how it works. You select your training goal. Pick an exercise. And perform the prescribed amount of reps. After each set PUSH assist will analyze your performance and make recommendation for the next set. (Note: you can also do your own manual review and adjust your load accordingly.)
In the screenshot above, the set was good. So it recommended I aim to do the exact the same thing. However, if you’re going too heavy and not hitting your targets you’ll get a recommendation like the one below.
This just eliminates all the guesswork and ensures every rep counts.
For 3 months I stuck to VBT on Incline Press, and pound by pound, rep by rep I was able to set new PRs every time I set foot in the gym.
What about you? Have you tried velocity-based-training? What do you use to track your velocity output?