Linear progression is the preferred approach of many coaches when it comes to training beginners. The method gained, even more, momentum over the last 4-5 years thanks to Mark Rippetoe and his book Starting Strength.
However, is linear progression that good for beginners?
The Good Side
The best aspect of linear progression is that it’s simple and works.
When you are a beginner who can barely squat 95lbs or deadlift 135lbs, you don’t need fancy programming and periodization because you are far away from your genetic potential. Therefore, the weights that you are lifting do not require a long recovery. There’s no need for deload phases and other advanced techniques.
The Bad Side
The bad side of linear progression is its effect on the mind.
Of course, in the beginning, you are lifting light weights, but once you are a little stronger, constantly adding weight to the bar will burn your central nervous system (CNS).
If you push your linear progression a little too far in the pursuit of a vanity goal such as a 315lbs squat, a 225lbs bench press or a 405lbs deadlift, you can hurt yourself. Extra plates on each side look nice, but your body does not care about that.
The Happy Middle Ground
Strength training is a marathon, not a sprint. The fact that someone ends his/hers linear progression with a 225lbs squat whereas another person finishes the race at 315lbs is irrelevant over the course of a training career. Sooner or later, you will have to start to periodize your training anyway.
Don’t be afraid to cut your linear progression a little short and begin more advanced training cycles. This will help your joints in the long run.