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Use Wave Loading Patterns for Stronger Muscles

Updated on November 11, 2010

Have you stopped achieving muscle gains and growth from your current weight training routine?

Are you bored of doing the same routine of 4 sets of 10 reps?

Want to know how to improve your strength and volume?

Then Wave Loading may just be for you.

What is Wave Loading?

Wave loading is a step loading pattern used by bodybuilders and powerlifters. In a step loading pattern, the weight being lifted is increased and decreased from set to set. When the weight is increased, the number of reps are decreased. And when the weight is decreased, the number of reps is increased.

Wave loading, sometimes called wave sets, is a popular step loading pattern. In wave loading, a normal set of 6-12 reps would be followed by a set of a much larger weight for a lower number of reps. For example, wave sets on the bench press would look something like below.

  • 80 kg (176 lbs) x 6
  • 95 kg (209lbs) x 1
  • 75 kg (165 lbs) x 8
  • 95 kg (209 lbs) x 1
  • 70 kg (154 lbs) x 10
  • 95 kg (209 lbs) x 1
  • 65 kg (143 lbs) x 12

Benefits of Wave Loading

The heavy loads being performed for 1 repetition will be at maximum effort. This repetition is used to ensure the recruitment of more type II muscle fibres. The body is putting under stress and undergoes neuromuscular adaptation.

When you begin the next set the weight will feel much lighter. This is because the body has adapted and is ready for another heavy load. These waves ensure the recruitment of the strongest muscle fibres and will mean you can lift heavier weights for longer. Heavier weights and more volume equal bigger and stronger muscles.

Wave Loading Patterns

Possibly the most popular wave loading routine around is the 6/1 wave loading pattern. You may have guessed that this is when a set of 6 reps is followed by a set of 1 rep and so on.

The 6/1 wave loading pattern focuses more on increasing muscle strength as opposed to size, because of the lower number of reps.

This is just a guide though and not the one way of building muscle strength and size that some magazines would have you believe. There are a number of wave loading patterns that you could employ. If you wanted to focus more on muscle size, then follow a hypertrophy wave loading pattern incorporating a higher number of reps at the end of the routine to increase volume.

All that is left now is to prepare your favourite post workout snack and hit the gym. Go see what wave loading can do for your training program.

Check out these other weight training articles.

German Volume Training (GVT) for bigger muscles

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to strip away body fat

Caveman Training for real strength and conditioning

CrossFit training for fast paced workouts with fast results

Strongman exercises to build super strength

6 top tips for your strength training program


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