What is Linear Progression?

definition of terms


Linear progression involves gradually increasing weight each workout in order to progressively overload the muscles and continually make progress over time.


  • Linear programs add weight in small increments each session like 2.5-10 lbs per lift. Small jumps enable continual overload.
  • Weekly rather than max effort lifting allows progressive gains by managing fatigue and nutrition. Deload periodically.
  • Novice lifters benefit most from linear progression’s steady gains but will plateau over time requiring periodization.
  • Programs like Starting Strength and StrongLifts popularized the linear progression model for beginners rather than complex periodization.


  • Adding 5lbs per workout to a lift like the bench press in a linear fashion.
  • Progressing from a 100 lb squat to 165 lbs over 12 weeks using linear periodization.

Related Terms

  • Progressive overload, periodization models, strength training

Common Questions

  • How long does linear progression work? 4-6 months typically for novice lifters before stalling.
  • What comes after linear progression? Switch to double progression, 5×5, periodization to continue progress.

Do Not Confuse With

  • Non-linear periodization – Varying volume and intensity in more complex waves.
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