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  • Writer's pictureZac Zuspann

Lifting with Percentages - Things to Consider



Lifting with percentages has been proven to be very effective, It is a smart and focused way to utilize strength training in the pursuit of many different goals. (Strength, power, gaining muscle, athletic development etc)


Here are a few things to consider when using percentages!

 

Coaches

  • BEING EQUIPPED WITH KNOWLEDGE LIKE THIS SEPARATES ELITE COACHING STAFFS

Athletes

  • BEING EQUIPPED WITH KNOWLEDGE LIKE THIS CAN FAST TRACK YOUR SUCCESS AND KEEP YOU INJURY FREE

 

DO NOT OBSESS ON EXACT PERCENTAGES

  • USE THE HEAVY, BUT SOLID RULE. We want each set to be TOUGH, but high quality, and full ROM reps that hit the stimulus we are after.

  • Percentages are ALWAYS a window of suggestion and can be adjusted inside or outside if needed.

  • We must learn to see, teach, practice, and encourage the HEAVY, but SOLID rule.

  • We want to hit that perfect sweet spot of struggle!

Written programs often serve a diverse community. Percentages are affected by

  • age

  • gender

  • lifting experience

  • muscle fiber balance (fast twitch/slow twitch)

  • The state of the athlete's nervous system varies from day to day based on rest, stress, recovery, etc - This will change how a load moves and feels

All these make it impossible to write in a perfect % spot for everyone, everyday and why you develop your eye and feel for the HEAVY, BUT SOLID RULE.


Some general guidelines:

  • an athletes' %'s can ebb and flow from day to day based on rest, stress, recovery etc

  • the stronger and more experienced the lifter, the lower the % during training - Athletes with SMALL maxes or just starting with strength training will likely use higher %’s

  • Strong, experienced lifters should use 90% of their true 1RM as the base of their training numbers AKA Training Max

  • A training max should be something on a good day can be hit consistently

  • In MOST cases males move LESS of a % of maximum than females (90% feels HEAVIER for a male vs. a female)

  • rookie lifters will get strong QUICKLY and may surpass %'s in a short time frame

  • percentages do not play out equally with all movements ESPECIALLY when lifting on a clock with a pre-determined, possibly short rest period like we do

  • Lifts that use smaller muscle groups and less nervous system (like Bench Press) will fatigue much faster and will likely require lower %'s while lifts that are full body and big on nervous system can use heavier %'s (like deadlift)

  • EYES AND BODIES TRAINED TO SEE AND PRACTICE JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF STRUGGLE IS THE KEY!

  • These concepts ring 100% true for absolute strength lifts like squat, bench press, deadlift, etc BUT also correlate to O-Lifts in most instances (Training max may be a bit higher for O-Lifts)

Am I Using the Right %?!

If you are new to lifting, all of the above information may seem overwhelming. Use these simple guidelines to check yourself or your athletes on accurate loading

  • Use the REPS IN THE TANK rule. Most sets should feel like 1-5 extra reps could be accomplished with a maximum effort - AKA you left 1-5 in REPS IN THE TANK. If technique is breaking down and you are approaching/hitting failure before the prescribed number of reps, lower the %. If you could easily blast out 6+ more reps, bring the % up!

  • The REPS IN THE TANK rule will vary slightly based on stimulus/loading desired, but 1-5 is a good, general window.

  • Use AMRAP Sets as measuring sticks to check the REPS IN THE TANK RULE. On your final set, do an AMRAP to technical failure. This means do AS MANY reps as you possibly can while maintaining solid technique and position.

  1. Did you not even reach the AMRAP or get ZERO on your AMRAP? Consider lowering your % or training max

  2. Did you hit the 1-5 window on your AMRAP? You are likely in the right zone!

  3. Did you get 6+ on your AMRAP? Consider increasing your % or training max

If you have any questions or comments on loading or using percentages let us know!


Happy Training!


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