The Efficacy of Percentage-Based Training Programs

Powerlifters have been using percentages since the beginning of time. They are used for many reasons.

One reason is because they work well for most lifters. Another reason is that it gives them a good idea how much weight to use to get a certain amount of repetitions or sets done. Finally, some people like to train with percentages so they don’t need to worry about exact numbers all the time when doing their workouts. However, there are two problems with percentages:

**1) You cannot tell if your training is working just from the number of reps or sets you do.**

A lot of times you will see a guy benching 200 pounds for 5 reps and then fail to get any stronger. He could have benched 300 pounds for 5 reps or even 400 pounds for 3 reps!

## So why would he choose one rep range over another?

**2) If you are going to use percentages, you must always keep track of the total number of reps or sets done.**

For example, if you start out with a 1RM (one repetition maximum), then after three weeks you want to increase the weight by 10% and continue at that rate until failure. After six months, you might want to go up again by 5%.

## This might sound okay in theory, but how many of us actually record all of our reps and sets? Do you know how much effort that is? And for what? So you can sit down at some point and do some mathematical calculations to figure out the numbers?

Another problem that I have with this method is that it will almost always lead to overtraining. Let’s say you start out benching 1RM (one repetition maximum) of 200 pounds. After three weeks, you increase by 10% to 220 pounds. That’s a little over 2% per week. The problem with such a high rate of increase is that your body isn’t going to get used to it fast enough to prevent overtraining. Most people do not realize this and as a result end up getting sick or injured once or twice a year and having to take time off from training.

This brings us to the concept of autoregulation. Basically, this means that you should not have a fixed schedule for how much you go up in weight each session or how much you add to the bar each week.

Instead, you should change these variables based upon how you feel on that particular day. Your body will tell you if it can handle more weight or not.

With this approach, you should still be working towards increasing the amount of reps that you do in a workout or how much you can add to the bar over a certain period of time. One problem with this method of training is keeping track of your numbers.

You don’t want to try to sit down after every workout and figure out the mean and standard deviation for each lift and how many reps or sets you did. There’s got to be an easier way. There is!

Enter Microsoft Excel!

No, really! All you have to do is enter your starting numbers for a lift (weight on the bar, reps or sets) and the software will keep track of the mean and standard deviation for you!

It even graphs the data for you. No more need to try to memorize the patterns either, just let the trend tell the story. This is known as a heart rate monitor for weight training.

Now, you can do all the calculations by hand or you can just use the spreadsheet that I’ve created. You can get it here.

Using the Spreadsheet

The columns are sort of self-explanatory, but I’ll go over them briefly anyway.

Weight: This is your current 1RM, 5RM or 10RM for your lift.

Last: This is the day of the week that you’re training.

Pray: This is the amount of weight that you’re planning on using for your set. (If this number is over 100%, don’t even bother with the spreadsheet since this will happen very rarely and will result in an injury.) You don’t need to fill this out every week either, just do it whenever you change the weight.

Rls: This is the amount of reps that you completed with the weight in the Pray column.

Last Week: This is the amount of weight you used for each lift last week.

This Week: This is the amount of weight you plan on using for each lift this week.

Delta: This is the difference between Last Week and This Week. (If it’s positive, it’s an increase and if it’s negative, it’s a decrease.

But, I’m sure that you knew that already!)

%Delta: This is the percent difference between Last Week and This Week.

1rms: This column shows you what your new 1RM, 5RM or 10RM should be after the current week is over assuming that your body doesn’t suffer any injuries from the increase. (This value is calculated by taking 80% of the Delta value.

If you get injured or start puking, then assume that your 1RM, 5RM or 10RM is going to be close to the Pray value.)

%1rms: This column shows you what percentage your new 1RM, 5RM or 10RM is of your current 1RM, 5RM or 10RM. If this value is over 100%, then you should probably reassess your weight for that lift.

Last Week Vs. This Week: This is a graph comparing your numbers for Last Week and This Week.

The blue line (Last Week) is plotted on the left side vertical axis and the red line (This Week) is plotted on the right side vertical axis.

The gray band is a 95% confidence interval for the results. If the red line (This Week) is above the blue line (Last Week), then you know that your performance has improved from last week.

If the red line is below the blue line, then your performance has decreased from last week.

The boundaries of the black box (at the bottom) are a 90% confidence interval for this week’s training compared to last week’s training. If the bottom edge of the box is above the blue line (Last Week), then you know that this week’s training is statistically better than last week’s training.

If the bottom edge of the box is below the blue line, then this week’s training is statistically worse than last week’s training. If the bottom of the box just touches the blue line, then there is not enough evidence to say if this week’s training is better or worse than last week’s training.

The mean value (0.00) is a representation of zero change from last week.

If the red line is to the right of this value, then your performance is improving. If the red line is to the left of this value, then your performance is deteriorating. Your physical condition for this week is represented by the position of the red line relative to these landmarks.

As I said before, fill this out before you go to sleep on Sunday night and then post your response blank in the applicable thread on the forum by Wednesday morning. Also, don’t forget to weigh yourself and calculate your body fat percentage using the methods described in Step 1 before you fill this form out!

Good luck and see you next Sunday!

Your form for this WL program

Last week:

This week:

Weight: kg

Body Fat Percentage: %

Calories (Estimated Baseline):

Intake (Estimated Baseline):

Exercise (Estimated Baseline):

Last Week vs. This Week:

Weight:

Body Fat Percentage:

Calories (Estimated Baseline):

Intake (Estimated Baseline):

Exercise (Estimated Baseline):

Pray’s modifiers for next week

1RM:

5RM:

10RM:

Delta 1RM:

Delta 5RM:

Delta 10RM:

%1rms:

Pray’s modifiers for next week (with confidence intervals)

1RM:

5RM:

10RM:

Delta 1RM:

Delta 5RM:

Delta 10RM:

%1rms:

__Sources & references used in this article:__

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Autoregulated Resistance Training: Does Velocity-Based Training Represent the Future? by J Nevin – Strength & Conditioning Journal, 2019 – cdn.journals.lww.com

Efficacy of the repetitions in reserve-based rating of perceived exertion for the bench press in experienced and novice benchers by MJ Ormsbee, JP Carzoli, A Klemp… – The Journal of …, 2019 – journals.lww.com

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