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Wave Loading 101: Bigger Gains in Strength and Mass

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Wave Loading 101: Bigger Gains in Strength and Mass

Wave loading got its origins in Olympic lifting and track and field to increase explosive power, it was used by the Bulgarian and Hungarian weightlifters, as well as Russian coaches of speed athletes like sprinters. Potentially, you can accelerate your strength development, increase your explosiveness, or increase your work capacity. Wave loading is a form of resistance training where the intensity (percentage of your 1-rep maximum) and repetitions of an exercise are adjusted each set in ascending or descending order then repeated for a desired number of waves. Its basically ramps of your nervous system with each progressive wave. For an excellent read on the paper read Ian King’s article on T-Nation called the Wave Loading Manifesto and and Charles Poliquin’s article Wave-like Loading: A Great Method to Achieve Maximal Strength

A great way to describe wave loading is strength coach Josh Bryant who stated, “To understand wave loading, picture a series of waves on the ocean. First, a small set of waves rolls up the beach. It pulls back, and then a successive set of waves rolls in even higher. Finally, an even more powerful wave comes in last and washes all the way up the shoreline. In many ways, the waves build on each other and push each other to reach even farther up the shore. If you are looking for a complete video series of wave loading, check out Vince Del Monte’s series on YouTube:

Wave Loading Arms:


Wave Loading Chest:


Wave Loading Legs:


Wave Loading Back:


Wave Loading Delts:

Here is a typical wave loading program from BB.com by Josh Bryant

Including warm-ups, a traditional wave for someone who can currently bench press 300 pounds—and wants to lift even heavier—looks like this:

Sample warm-up
Set Weight (lbs.) Reps Rest Interval
1-2 bar 10 30 sec.
3 135 6 60 sec.
4 185 4 60-90 sec.
5 225 3 2 min.
6 255 1 2 min.
7 285 1 2-1/2 min.


Wave 1
Set Weight (lbs.) Reps Rest Interval
1 264 3 3-5 min.
2 279 2 3-5 min.
3 294 1 3-5 min.


Wave 2
Set Weight (lbs.) Reps Rest Interval
1 270 3 3-5 min.
2 285 2 3-5 min.
3 300 1 3-5 min.


Wave 3
Set Weight (lbs.) Reps Rest Interval
1 275 3 3-5 min.
2 290 2 3-5 min.
3 305 1 3-5 min.


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