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Beginner progression

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  • Beginner progression

    I have introduced my mother to the beginner template. She is in her late 70's and we are starting with block 1. I did have a question about progression. The issue is for the bench movements I need to use dumbbells or a machine. So the normal weight jumps are a little high with machines going up 10 lbs or 10 lbs with dumbbells that are available. I had her doing a Romanian deadlift and at the end of week 1 she was pulling about 30 lbs at what looked like a RPE 8 for 4 reps. Eventually I might put her on something like a rack pull due to mobility but she needs to get a point to lift the bar. I chose incline instead of overhead because of overhead mobility. For the leg press given the weight on the machine which jumps 10 KG, I think she handle the leg press with weights since she pushed 40 kgs so a 75lb empty leg press machine that uses plates should be doable and we can go up as little as 2.5 lbs if needed.

    So in this case with the jumps available being too big would a double progression be appropriate of adding reps up to a certain point then add a little weight? Also would a Smith machine not be a bad idea with the bench movements since see seems to be able to do 20 lbs which is the usual Smith Machine bar? There is one in her gym. I may look into a training bar that weighs 15 lbs. as well.

  • #2

    Good on you for working with your mom. That's awesome! Would be cool to see videos of her getting after it in the gym on our FB group if she's so inclined.

    In any case, you've identified an issue with using load as the sole progression strategy. This happens quite frequently for lots of people, e.g. the trained individual doing isolation work or challenging calisthenics or the newer trainee who's not lifting very much weight yet. I do think a double progression makes sense in these cases. A few tips:
    1. Make sure the rep range tends to promote the same adaptation throughout, e.g. 3-6 reps makes more sense to me than 3 to 10, as the former selects for mostly the same adaptations and the latter has a lot more variance.
    2. As far as what rep ranges to use, I default to 3-6, 6-10, and 10-15 to start.
    3. Once the person is at the top end for all sets performed on a particular exercise, we advance to the heavier weight.
    4. I still use RPE to manage proximity to failure and subsequent training stress. For example, Squat 3-6 reps x 4 sets, each set to RPE 7/3 RIR
    As far as I know, the resistance of an empty smith machine bar varies between ~ 20 and 40lbs. It may be a good option for her, as would a training bar. There are training bar options that are as light as 5lbs that may be extremely useful for free weight training in this application.

    Hope this helps!

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