What Is Wave Loading & How Can It Lead To Muscle Growth?

wave loading

Add intensity to your workouts for serious gains.

You work hard in the gym with plenty of quality routines, but wave loading may be something you are missing. We all seek the best intensity for our workouts and research the heck out of the Internet to find ways to boost our gains, but sometimes to no avail. We want to bring this great form of training to you so you fully understand some of the top ways to see that desired growth.

Wave loading is something to add to your routine for it will increase intensity, something we unfortunately find is lacking. With the right approach, we can see our muscle building and power output goals come to life and adding intensity and overload to our workouts is a sure fire way to make this happen.

Let’s take a look at wave loading and see what this form of training is all about. From what it is, to the benefits of it, and an example of what it looks like, you’ll be well on your way to getting a great workout with wave loading. We all seek added intensity and a drive to perform at our very best. Trying something new is just one way to switch things up and really see that change in our training and performance we want most.

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What Is Wave Loading?

Wave loading is a great form of training to add intensity and variety into your lifting routine for increased strength and size. Wave loading works with a progressive rep and intensity format where you perform a series of sets all while increasing in weight and decreasing in reps for each wave. However you choose to structure your format will depend on the amount of waves, but typically it will be around two to three. The point is to maximize your training for the best in terms of strength and size all while seeing increased performance results (1).

Wave Loading Benefits

When it comes to wave loading and the benefits around this form of training, it’s important to realize that with the increased intensity comes a great deal of strength and power potential. You no longer are dealing with straight sets which can seem rather flat, meaning you stick to one weight, bang out three sets, and call it a day. What you will find is that the benefits below are all a result of more intense movements with greater load.

Benefits of wave loading include:

  • Increased strength for better workouts and performance (2).
  • Bigger muscles to add to our massive and shredded physiques others will envy.
  • More muscular speed and endurance to allow us to push harder in other workouts.
  • Improved power for either performance or other sport specific movements that require it (3).
  • Good variation to change up our workouts and give us something new to try.

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Examples Of Wave Loading Routines

Let’s take a look at some wave loading examples to fully understand how to structure this type of workout. The right approach means you know exactly what needs to get done so you’ll never have any questions left unanswered. It may require some math on your part to figure the right percentages but this is where a training journal can come into play so you know exactly what is needed in order to train harder and perform better.

A simple wave loading format would look something like this:

  • 4 reps @ 70%
  • 3 reps@ 73%
  • 2 reps@ 75%
  • 1 rep@ 80%
  • 4 reps@ 73%
  • 3 reps@ 75%
  • 2 reps@ 80%
  • 1 rep@ 82%

What you’ll find above is the weight used to perform 3 reps then gets moved down as you cycle back to 4 reps. You are increasing weight ever so slightly, but it works as a way to physically challenge your muscles with the increased load and mentally allow you to not even think about the increase in weight.

Potential Risks

If done correctly, and of course safely as all lifts should be, the potential risks are actually slightly low. However, with the increased load, you will find that you may fatigue faster, so recovery and managing the amount of weight should be high on your priority list. Stretching and other forms of recovery, like yoga, are great to throw in, but using a foam roller can be an easy way to achieve serious recovery and increased gains.

Wave Loading Vs. Straight Sets

You may be wondering what the benefit is to wave loading versus something like straight sets. With straight sets, you can certainly see gains to muscle growth, muscular endurance and power, among other lifting benefits, but the intensity is something to heavily consider. When it comes to something like higher intensity work, whether that be with lifting or even HIIT workouts for that cardio boost, you start to build a solid base for power and explosivity.

Depending on your goals, whether you are a powerlifter or bodybuilder, or an athlete where explosive movements are a priority, this can serve you well. So, we aren’t saying throw straight sets out the window, just to consider wave loading as part of your routine to mix things up.

For those of you looking for a serious pump before your workout, check out our list of the Best Pre-Workouts for some awesome products. Post-workout gains come with a great protein powder for increased muscle growth and recovery so definitely look at our list of the Best Protein Powders for some seriously effective products!

Wrap Up

Wave loading is an effective and worthwhile form of training to consider. A great way to promote explosivity and power, while also aiding in muscle growth and increased muscular endurance, the added intensity is sure to mix things up and improve all your gains. Give this a try to see just what it can do for you, for you won’t be disappointed by the results. And be sure to add in some premium supplements to ensure you don’t sacrifice any of those hard-earned gains.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Morton, R.; et al. (2019). “Training for strength and hypertrophy: an evidence-based approach”. (source)
  2. Mangine, G.; et al. (2015). “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men”. (source)
  3. Sarabia, J.; et al. (2017). “The effects of training with loads that maximise power output and individualized repetitions vs. traditional power training”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.