The 2-for-2 Rule: How to Know When You Should Increase The Weight.

Building muscles requires increasing resistance. Following the 2-for-2 Rule helps you identify when it's time to up the weight.

We know that progression is necessary to build bigger and stronger muscles. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten; our muscles won’t increase in size or strength unless we push them to do so. And that “pushing” is done through incremental increases in the amount of resistance.

Just yesterday, while exercising with my boyfriend, he asked a common question: When should I increase the amount of weight that I’m lifting? To answer that question, most people expect an answer that’s attached to a time-frame, like “every three weeks” or “every fifth workout.” But that’s not really how it works, and all of our bodies work, adjust and develop differently.

Graves and Baechle created a more practical formula to determine when it’s time to increase the amount of resistance. It’s called the 2-for-2 Rule:

If you can successfully complete two or more repetitions in the last set in two consecutive workouts for any given exercise, then the load should be increased.

For example, I perform 4 sets of 8 reps of dumbbell bicep curls. If I can perform 10 reps on my final set of bicep curls for two weeks in a row, then it’s time to increase the weight. Remember, if you are looking to build muscle, you’ll want to target a low number of repetitions - but you should be fully fatigued on your last rep. The 2-for-2 Rule helps identify when fatigue is no longer happening!

If you are new to working out, you may be able to increase resistance by 5% – 10%. If you are more advanced, 2% – 5% may be more appropriate. This usually amounts to 2.5 - 5 pounds for smaller muscle groups and 5 - 10 pounds for larger muscle groups.

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  1. Numbers confuse me. What I’ve always told clients is that if the last couple of reps in your last set are getting easy it’s time to move up.

  2. The 2-for-2 Rule provides an interesting formula that many people could fine helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on when to increase weight.

  3. Thanks. I had heard about the first 2, but not the second 2. I tend to rush things, and waiting two weeks after I discover that I can do more reps than I am currently doing is a good way to prevent me from increasing the weight before I am ready. I often injure myself (in a minor way) after increasing the weight.

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  5. In your newsletter you say our bodies are already perfect. I agree. So why don’t you show different body types in the images you include on this sight instead of the same body type over and over. Not all of us will ever look like the guy above because we just don’t have the genes for it. Please show us what we could look like if we follow your advice. Thanks from an ectomorph.

  6. Marvelous content, thank You !!


  1. […] is different for each person and each body, but I generally recommend following the “2 for 2 Rule.” When you can do 2 extra repetitions on your last set of a given exercise for workouts in a […]

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  3. […] The 2-for-2 Rule: How to Know When You Should Increase The Weight. […]

  4. […] 2 rule for increasing weight on a particular exercise (don’t know the 2 x 2 rule?  Check it out here) so that you continue to build strength each week.  As long as you’re making progress […]