Sandow´s progression table

Eugen Sandow was for a while an authority on training advice. Like all authorities he is not infallible. He may have claimed something that in light of new evidence seems out of date or wrong. Thus, it is justified to critique his training method, to refute or even to modify it. I, of course, am a fan of his method, but this should never mean that I would propose that everybody should train this way or that it’s the best all-around method. I always try to read these authors like Sandow from the perspective of my own experience, known evidence and its usefulness for my own life. Like Bruce Lee said “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless”. Put another way, I have not much problem if somebody does not like this method of practice.

However, I do have a problem with wrong allegations. For example,  a few days ago I came across the claim that Sandow used “a classical” 15 rep 3 set approach. Not only was such a protocol very unlikely for that time (hence why I put classical in quotes), I found no mentioning of this in Sandow´s books. Like his teacher Prof. Attila, Sandow used a relatively high rep scheme with very light weight and rhythmic tension. A 15 rep/3 sets protocol would not make much sense here.

Another wrong claim i have read is, that Sandow suggested to increase the weight weekly. While it is true, that Sandow did indeed suggest to increase the weight after a while, his advice was much more conservative. The first progression was to increase the repetitions to a set point and stick with it for six months. Once completed, the weight could be slightly (1lbs) increased. The maximum weight used should not surpass 20lbs  (in the second edition he speaks of only 10lbs!). Anyway, attached is a picture of Sandow´s revised progression table, which should bring about a clearer picture of Sandow´s training method and provide a pointer for those who are interested in practicing it.




8 thoughts on “Sandow´s progression table

  1. Is there any word on Dave Bolton’s new edition and website? I found the articles you’ve done on the Sandow exercises interesting by the way.

    1. Thank you very much. This is very appreciated and motivates me to finish some posts that are in progress for quite some time now.

  2. Hi Patrick, i’m also really glad i found your site. I found it after finishing Dave Boltons book and searching for an interview. You have excellent information and they’re written so well. Many thanks, i’ll be visiting often.

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