October 26, 2023 2 min read

PERIODIZATION 3/10: Double Progression by Shane Robert

Double progressive periodization is a training methodology that used to be very popular in strength training and is still quite common in bodybuilding, even if they don’t call it that. It involves progressing reps at a given weight before progressing the load to promote continuous progress and avoid training plateaus. 

This is the base of the “Hepburn” program and was the original model used for the Nautilus training centers. It can work for one set or many sets.

Here's how double progressive periodization works:

  • Establish Repetitions: In a double progressive program, the primary focus is on manipulating the number of repetitions performed for a specific exercise. This means that you aim to perform a certain number of repetitions for each set, such as 8 reps for a set of squats
  • Increase Reps: The goal is to increase the number of repetitions with the same weight over time. In the example above, if you start with 8 reps of squats with a particular weight, you aim to gradually increase the number of reps until you reach a specified end rep number, such as 12 reps.
  • Increase Load, Drop Reps: Once the end rep number has been reached, 12 in our example, you add weight, perhaps 5-20 pounds, drop back to 8 reps, and repeat the process described above. 

Here's an example to make it easy to understand:

  • Week 1: 150x8
  • Week 2: 150x9
  • Week 3: 150x10
  • Week 4: 150x11
  • Week 5: 150x12
  • Week 6: 160x8
  • Week 7: 160x9
  • Week 8: 160x10
  • Week 9: 160x11
  • Week 10: 160x12
  • Week 11: 170x8
  • etc.

It’s important that reps only increase if technique remains the same and there is no chance of missing reps. Therefore, some weeks may not see an increase in reps if you don’t feel confident in your ability to increase. You just keep lifting and add the rep when you feel strong enough to do so. If multiple sets are used, the progression can be to one set per week (or session, as is the case in a Hepburn program), or all sets per week. The latter will require a lighter starting weight, while the former will lead to a longer, but very sustainable, overload structure.  

This same setup can work by adding sets while keeping load and reps static, though I find this to be less effective. The case where I do find this useful is in the case of singles. Going from 2 singles at a weight to 6+ is a definite sign that you have gotten stronger.

Double progressive periodization allows for a consistent, autoregulated and structured approach to progressive overload. By manipulating both reps and load, it offers a more flexible and adaptable method for making strength and muscle gains.



  • Simple
  • Sustainable
  • Autoregulated
  • Works for muscle or strength (higher reps or low)
  • Works for beginners and advanced
  • Longer timeline than some have available
  • Can be too little variety for some advanced lifters
  • Potential to be boring 
  • Runs out quickly if starting weight is too heavy

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