When following a progressive overload
training strategy, you can figure out whether you’re ready to add weight or reps by following the two-by-two-by-two rule, says Matt Berenc, CSCS, Beverly Hills-based director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute: If you can do two extra reps of a lift for two sets on two different days, you’re ready to up the challenge.
Adding just five percent more volume is enough to activate muscle growth, and being able to do two more reps for two consecutive sets shows you’re ready to handle that load, Berenc explains. Completing the extra lifts on two separate days is proof that you can do it because of increased strength rather than a great night’s sleep or extra energy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Test yourself with the two-by-two-by-two rule once one set of your current max of a certain exercise feels easy, which often happens about four to six weeks into a new training program. If you pass, aim for a five to 10 percent increase in weight to build strength or in sets or reps for endurance, Berenc says.