Wave Loading for maximal strength


Until recently I had been plateauing with my front squat. I used wave loading as a method for improving my relative strength and I can happily say it has worked very well in helping me to push my central nervous system to its maximum capability. In this post I will detail Wave Loading for all of you to get stuck in.

The premise of this training is to excite the nervous system by exciting the motor unit pools involved in the lifting force to a higher threshold of motor units required to lift the load (Neuroscience online, John H. Byrne, Ph.D., 1997). This is known as post-tetanic facilitation.

Wave loading can be done with rep schemes of 3-2-1 (for greater relative strength) or 7-5-3 (for hypertrophy).

I will provide a sample using the front squat at the 3-2-1 rep scheme at 125kg.


Wave 1:

3 reps at 115kg

Rest 4 minutes

2 reps at 120kg

Rest 4 minutes

1 rep at 125kg

Wave end: End of wave 1. Depending on your experience with lifting, add 1.25–10kg to your 3RM, 2RM and 1RM. Begin wave 2 with this new weight. I have chosen to increase by 2.5kg for this sample.


Wave 2:

3 reps at 117.5kg

Rest 4 minutes

2 reps at 122.5kg

Rest 4 minutes

1 rep at 127.5kg


Carry on wave loading until you fail. Many will fail at around wave 2-3. Lifters with a true gift for strength training will make it past 3, maybe even 4 waves.

But Enraged Hippo, won’t the second wave feel harder?

Technically, yes it should. But your central nervous system will be in a state of maximal activation (http://www.strengthsensei.com/wave-like-loading-a-great-method-to-achieve-maximal-strength/). Due to the stimulation of your nervous system later sets will feel easier.

How has it helped?

I’ve broken the glass ceiling of my front squat, finally hitting 130kg for a 1 rep max. I have begun to use wave loading for upper body pulling for calisthenics, by changing up to harder variations of pull ups as a substitute for increasing weight.

A couple of important tips below:

  • When trying this, it is suggested a spotter be used because when you fail, you don’t want all that steel to come crashing down on yo’ ass.
  • Deadlifting: If required, use chalk. Give it your very best. Your nervous system might not thank you short term, but it will certainly help you get out of that rut. I recommend the myproteinworks liquid chalk – if you are a new member you can enjoy a free 500g of protein with your order when you use the referral code ‘RS47699’ with The protein works (link below).

Link: http://www.theproteinworks.com/products/


Happy Lifting!


Photo: http://www.columbusweightlifting.org/lift-more-with-waves/



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