Wave Loading – One of the Ways to Get Bigger & Stronger

wave loading

Wave Training to Take Your Workout Routine to Another Level

When it comes to muscle building, opinions differ from person to person. Some suggest designing a good workout routine and some on how many times per week, you should be training according to your goals. Some even suggest ramping up heavy weights – quite favorite to many.

I’m also one of those who love crushing weights, and it’s even helpful in activating the nervous system. But there comes a time, that result starts halting. No matter how much weights you lift or different variations you try, you don’t find optimal results. At that time, different techniques and methods have to be applied.

Many techniques go beyond traditional set and rep schemes such as 4 sets of 10 reps or 3 sets of 12 reps, and one of them is wave loading.

What’s Wave Loading?

Put simply, wave loading is one of the loading techniques in which one “wave” consists of three progressive heavy sets along with decreasing reps. In other words, wave loading is one of the advanced set-rep schemes where weights and reps are adjusted in an ascending or descending order called as wave.

For example:

  • 8 Reps – 220 Lbs
  • 6 Reps – 240 Lbs
  • 4 Reps – 260 Lbs
For advanced lifters, this shouldn’t be a problem, and multiple waves can be used. For instance, the first wave prepares you for lifting heavier in the coming second wave, and that’s where this real wave training is witnessed. Let’s take a look at it using the above example:
  • 8 Reps – 220 Lbs
  • 6 Reps – 240 Lbs
  • 4 Reps – 260 Lbs
  • 8 Reps – 225 Lbs
  • 6 Reps – 245 Lbs
  • 4 Reps – 265 Lbs
To make that wave loading more intense, you can keep different reps, known as “rapid wave loading.” For instance,
  • 6 Reps – 240 Lbs
  • 1 Reps – 260 Lbs
  • 6 Reps – 245 Lbs
  • 1 Reps – 265 Lbs

Benefits of Wave Loading – Here’s How It Works

  • Wave loading helps in stimulating your muscles through different intensities, which is not possible using a straight-set.
  • It opens you to the big heavyweights, which is required for muscle growth.
  • Due to sudden exposure to heavyweights, your neural system gets stimulated, improving your muscle’s ability to generate more power. Ultimately, wave loading shocks your muscles for lifting more weights.

Different Types of Wave Loading Methods

Different types of wave loading methods are:

  • Single Wave Loading
  • Multiple Wave Loading
  • Rapid Wave Loading

1. Single Wave Loading

Single wave loading goes from high to low repetitions, which is more intended towards muscle strength and another low to high reps that intend towards muscle size.

Usually, it contains 3 to 5 sets. And, any repetitions done above 6 reps have to be jumped with 2 reps. (8 to 10 reps). And, any reps below 5, will usually be 1 rep jump (2-3 reps). However, it’s not a compulsion, and you can have your own, like 5, 3, and 1.

Example of Single Wave Loading – Emphasis on Strength

3 sets of 6, 4, and 2 reps.

  • 1 x 6 – 220 Lbs
  • 1 x 4 – 230 Lbs
  • 1 x 2 – 240 Lbs

Example of Single Wave Loading – Emphasis on Muscle Size

4 sets of 1, 3, 5 and 7 reps

  • 1 x 1 – 240 Lbs
  • 1 x 3 – 225 Lbs
  • 1 x 5 – 215 Lbs
  • 1 x 7 – 200 Lbs

2. Multiple Wave Loading

In multiple wave loading, reps decreases as the set go on, and it also stays less than 6 throughout the set. Other than that, rep jumps are usually between 1 to 3 reps, and usually, it’s of 2 waves, and in the rare condition, it goes beyond 3 waves.

Here, reps and weights are not changed often. Also, the second wave set is usually done with high loading compared to the 1st wave. It’s best for intermediate to advanced lifters.

Example of Multiple Wave Loading – For Intermediate Lifters

Reps: 5, 4, 3 and 5, 4, 3.

  • 5 – 225
  • 4 – 235
  • 3 – 240
  • 5 – 230
  • 4 – 240
  • 5 – 250

Example of Multiple Wave Loading – For Advanced Lifters

Reps: 3, 2, 1 and 3, 2, 1.

  • 3 – 250 Lbs
  • 2 – 260 Lbs
  • 1 – 270 Lbs
  • 3 – 260 Lbs
  • 2 – 270 Lbs
  • 1 – 280 Lbs

3. Rapid Wave Loading

It’s the type of wave training that involves four sets or more than that. Here, the weight jumps are quite aggressive, and generally, the reps stay equals to or less than 6.

Example of Rapid Wave Loading

  • 2 – 150 Lbs
  • 6 – 125 Lbs
  • 2 – 155 Lbs
  • 6 – 135 Lbs

Or another one:

  • 5 – 225 Lbs
  • 1 – 250 Lbs
  • 5 – 235 Lbs
  • 1 – 255 Lbs

Example of Multiple Wave Loading – For Advanced Lifters

Reps: 3, 2, 1 and 3, 2, 1.

  • 3 – 250 Lbs
  • 2 – 260 Lbs
  • 1 – 270 Lbs
  • 3 – 260 Lbs
  • 2 – 270 Lbs
  • 1 – 280 Lbs

How to Choose the Right Method for Yourself When Doing Wave Training

Different wave loading works better according to different goals. Let’s see the purpose behind different types of waves so you can select the right one for yourself.

  • Rapid Wave Loading
  • Multiple Wave Loading
  • Descending Wave Loading
  • Ascending Wave Loading

1. Rapid Wave Loading

The main reason to go behind this rapid wave loading (low reps and higher weight) is to enhance your higher reps set work capacity. The main aim of 2/6/2/6 is to check your potential with 2 reps for the coming 6 reps set.

In other words, it enhances your capacity so that you can do more reps with higher weights than your usual ones. Another benefit you get by using this rapid wave loading is work capacity and muscle size. Though it might not give you another 1 – rep max, it’ll give a good foundation for higher reps max range with more weights, which helps build strength.

2. Multiple Wave Loading

Here, the main motive of this wave loading is to enhance your potentials in the second wave. However, the volume is low per set. And, it’s critical that you don’t go over the board on the first wave loading, or else you’ll get fatigued to benefit from this multiple wave loading.

It’s good for increasing strength and speed. However, when you train for speed, you can keep the same weights in between the wave loading while keeping your range of motion faster than the first wave.


If you’re looking for explosiveness or speed, avoid going heavier in the first set as it’ll hinder your ability to produce a force on the second wave loading.

3. Descending Wave Loading

It’s usually for strength practice. In this wave training method, the main aim is to gain mastery on a particular lift. However, it’s suggested not to max out on your lighter sets or quickly get fatigued on your heavier sets. It’s one of the best ways to increase strength.

4. Ascending Wave Loading

In this method, you don’t have to worry about getting fatigued. As here, you work opposite to descending wave loading. Here, first, you’ll go for heavier weight and then lighter in second wave loading and so on. This ascending wave loading is good for building muscle size as well as a strength because you can increase the volume in the lighter sets.

Common Wave Training Mistakes to Avoid

Many make mistakes while dong wave training. Some common ones that are often seen among lifters trying out for the first time are like:

  • Using wave loading for Isolation exercises and the truth is, Wave loading is ideal for compound movements like Deadlifts, Bench Press, or Squats.
  • Doing wave loading with quite higher than required repetitions doesn’t do any good. Wave training is a good strength building method to find your new strength potentials. And, ideal reps in wave loading are like 5,3,1,5,3,1 or else 3,2,1,3,2,1 but going for higher reps like 20,15,12,20,15,12 are something that you should avoid.
  • First-timers directly jump for 3x waves loading. If you’re trying wave loading for the first time, it’s best to do with 2 waves. For example, 3,2,1,3,2,1 is good instead of going 3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2,1.
  • Using wave loading randomly between your workouts. On the contrary, wave loading is quite good when used during the peaking phase. So, post-tetanic potentiation can be experienced.
  • Keeping your rest periods short. Wave loading needs more rest periods because it involves exciting your nervous system. The nervous system needs 5 to 7 times more rest than usual muscular workout rest periods, which is usually between 1 to 2 minutes according to your workout routine.

Tips on Wave Training

  • Try maintaining balance. If you’re using the heavier weight, you might end up fatiguing yourself, and if you’re not using heavy enough, you won’t be able to potentiate your muscles.
  • Avoid training until failure.
  • Make your rest periods higher, as the weight moves higher.
  • Once you get used to wave training, try making one for yourself. For instance, add more waves, change the wave direction like more reps and less weight, try speed training, etc.

Wrapping Up

No matter what your goal is, whether you’re looking to put on muscle size, lose fat, or else you want to improve your strength, Wave training is something you can apply in any training goals. Also, there’s more than one wave training method that you can make use of. Be careful not to go heavy enough on the first wave and limit the use for one or two wave sets if you’re the first-timer.

satinder chowdhry

Satinder Chowdhry

Satinder Chowdhry is the founder, gym enthusiast & regular contributor at SPCFiTZ.com who is passionate about bodybuilding & workout. Strangely, he was never into fitness and even started hitting the gym quite late during his post-graduation days to lose weight, but he got hooked on it after getting results. These days, he enjoys working out and writing fitness, bodybuilding & training-related articles. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned enthusiast, here you’ll find a collection of workouts, insights, and tips articles written by him to empower you on your fitness journey and transform your health and physique.

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