October 12, 2023 2 min read

PERIODIZATION: Linear Progression by Shane Robert

You may remember from a past key term that Periodization is the planned organization of training variables over time to maximize adaptations. In the coming weeks we will present 10 different and time tested periodization schemes, starting with Linear Progression and working our way through to Soviet Style. 



The OG of them all, linear progression is the oldest and simplest form of training progression. Put simply, it is adding weight every time you come in. The frequency with which the increase occurs can vary widely, from every other day to every other week, or even month. Most commonly, it will see an increase of 1-3 times per week. There is no fancy planning or cycling or concern for different phases, simply do more weight than you did last time, no matter how small the increase.

Over a long enough timeline, all training paradigms are essentially linear progression.

The most popular and recognizable program to use this is Starting Strength. Designed for neophyte lifters, this program uses a small selection of movements 3 days per week for 3 sets of 5 reps (with 2 warm up sets of 5), increasing the load 2.5 - 5 pounds each session. Repeat until no progress can be made. For a beginner, this can be quite a long time.

A common next program that lifters follow is the Texas Method, which is still a linear progression but changes the days to volume (5 sets x 5 reps), light/recovery (5x3 w/80% of day 1), and intensity (1x5 top set). Depending on the starting point and the person, this style of planning can carry you very far.

It is common to see sets of 5 used, however any combination of exercises, sets and reps can be utilized to create a linear progression program. If the goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth)  then starting with higher reps, somewhere around 8-12, may be better. The key, in all cases, is to start light enough to give yourself room to progress. In the case of Starting Strength, this is often just an empty bar. For others, that may be 5 rep sets starting somewhere around 70% of a 1 rep max.



  • Very simple
  • Great for beginners
  • Progress is inherent
  • Limited for experienced lifters
  • No phase structure
  • Can run out quickly for some people, even beginners

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