Repost: Prilepin’s Chart

Prileipin’s Chart is the result of a lot of Russian research done with Olympic weightlifters. It depicts the optimum number and range of reps given a certain percentage to increase strength. The researchers looked at bar speed, technique, and the lifter’s next competition max and developed the following numbers (for more on Prilepin’s Chart and it’s use on strength training, check out this solid article by Tim Kontos on EliteFTS).

The “Percent” column indicates the percent of the lifter’s 1RM. The “Reps/sets” column represents the range of reps that can occur for a single set. The “Optimal” column shows the optimum number of total reps at this percent range to implement a correct dose of stress (fewer reps would be too low a stress, more reps would cause too much stress). The “Total Range” column indicates the lower and higher extremes a lifter could use when lifting in the indicated percent range. For example, the 55-65% row says that a lifter would use three to six reps per set, the optimal rep total is 24 reps, and the range of total reps is from 18 to 30. If the lifter used sets of 3, they could perform 8 sets to achieve the optimal 24 rep total.

This chart is a very good way to structure a training day, though it isn’t really necessary unless you’re more of an “advanced intermediate” type of lifter (i.e. someone who has been using intermediate programming for at least six months, and probably at least a year). Let’s say you found yourself going hard too often in your training, and de-loads were necessary and often. If you actually looked at your percentages and rep totals, you might find that you’re essentially doing three heavy days a week. Instead, you could fluctuate your week’s training better (perhaps with a Heavy-Medium-Light set up) by orienting your training sessions with Prilepin’s Chart.

If Monday you went heavy, the chart would help you see that “heavy” is anything over 90%. You’d do about four total reps by hitting a couple doubles or some singles, and you definitely wouldn’t breach the ten rep mark — it would just be superfluous training volume at this percentage. If you kept the rep ranges the same, you could aim to improve the weight slightly the following week. This is essentially what is done in the Texas Method and Advanced Texas Method protocols (though numbers of sets and reps are modified for goals, like raw powerlifting).

Prilepin’s Chart also allows for proper progression. If you’re less adapted to using its protocol, then you would stick to the lower end range of reps within a given percentage. For example, instead of using 15 to 20 reps in the 80-90% category, you’d stick to the lower rep range of 10 and build it up over time (perhaps adding a rep or two every week). You can see how it’s easy to apply more stress via total tonnage than simply adding weight, and this is also why you’d want to be more advanced before even worrying about any of this. Less adapted intermediates can make plenty of progress with a good training template and not over working themselves, but this Chart can corral those who are ignorant, belligerent, or not on a given template (hmm, two of those three describe Brent…).

Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons are the primary sources that educated the general strength population on Prilepin’s Chart. Louie based the DE/ME structure on these percentages and rep ranges and has tweaked them over the years (I’d suggest getting a copy of the “Westside Barbell Squat and Deadlift Manual” if you’re interested to see his implementation). Things are tweaked because a) the Westside lifters are using supportive gear and b) the above chart is based on the the quick Olympic lifts. Supportive gear will assist the lifter in his performance, so heavier percentages can be used. The Olympic lifts have a much lower time under tension and can be typically labeled as “sub-maximal” with respect to absolute strength, so a powerlifter or strength athlete will typically use fewer reps than an Olympic weightlifter. Also, Tim Kontos pointed out that a sport athlete (who is running, attending practice, or using a broader range of lifts) will use fewer reps so as not to apply too much stress that would inhibit the rest of the training.

Prilepin’s Chart is a good tool to use for experienced lifters, yet it can give a good programmer a strategy for how to plan his session, week, and training. Take a look at your own training and see how it compares with these rep ranges. If you decide to use it, remember to start with the lower rep ranges. If you experiment with something and it works well, then let us know (but include your stats and previous program). Don’t forget that less experienced lifters will complicate a good progression by trying to adhere to percentage-based training.

Memorial Day 2016

I typically use the same post every Memorial Day to remind American readers of their freedoms. Every year, families and friends gather to grill meat and wave flags, but getting a day off from work and drinking a beer doesn’t really do justice to those that have lost their lives in service of the United States of America.

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A flag from the WTC rubble in 2001.

I won’t spin tales of heroes, sacrifice, and death. I won’t ask you to thank anyone or give a donation. All I ask is that you live honorably. Most service members believe this country is worth enduring a lot of shitty situations. There’s an idea that despite our flaws, America is an amazing place to live full of righteous people who work hard, have personal responsibility, and always try to improve.

Do not let them down; live honorably. Convince the families of the fallen that their loss was worth it. Convince the service members who still toil that their effort is worth it. Take responsibility of your life and actions, respect others, and never, ever stop trying to succeed. Teach others how to do the same.

The only true memorial is to live this way, to live honorably. Everything else is an obligatory charade. This is not a day if celebration, but of remembrance. Lest we forget.

Werner Günthör

The other day I used a sweet picture of Werner Günthör. In an effort to teach all the newer readers, here’s a post I wrote in 2010 about him (with minor edits). 

Meet Werner Günthör, a powerful athlete from Switzerland. Günthör was an athletic shot putter who stood 6’6″ and weighed close to 300 pounds of pure 70’s Bigness (this website lists him at 130kg). His best put was 22.75 meters in 1988 in Bern — that’s about 74.5 feet. Günthör won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics as well as three world championships in the late 80s and early 90s. He also won an indoor world championship and European championship. You can find videos of Günthör training on YouTube. His training was awesome, and here’s my favorite video (the last sequence is the best):

How awesome was that? It’s not a bad idea to model conditioning work after Günthör’s plyometric training, particularly jumping and bounding. Ease into these movements, especially if you haven’t done them since high school athletics; plyometrics will initially be stressful on the joints and soft tissue.

Here is another video of Günthör and who I assume is his training partner. The whole video is an impressive showing of athleticism and displays the old school mindset of including related physical conditioning to training.

Ladies will want to fast forward to 1:43.
More intense plyo training at 2:38.
3:33 is the start of a hilarious montage of Günthör doing all kinds of awesome things, including playing tennis. You can’t really get an idea of how massive this guy is until he wedges a racket in his fist. There’s another really funny part that I’ll let you see for yourself, so this would be the best part of the video if you were strapped for time.

Günthör is one of my favorite athletes because of his explosive training and awesome style. A 70’s Big man indeed.

Holiday E-book Sale

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The 70’s Big LP and Paleo for Lifters for $29.99

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The 70’s Big LP is not your father’s linear progression. Most linear progressions leave you with big thighs, a big belly, and noodly arms. The 70’s Big LP is your guide to build a massive back, thick arms, and press numbers to be proud of. Pair it with the popular Paleo for Lifters and you have a recipe for being jacked. Lower body fat, recover better for lifting, and stop feeling like shit by improving food choices, fixing macronutrient ratios, and do all of it without weighing and measuring like a weirdo.
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Both Texas Method books for $34.99

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This Texas Method series is well accepted in many a strength training dojo. There’s much more to it than merely doing a 5×5 then a 5RM. Use the same program that builds 600+lbs squats and 700+lbs deadlifts. Between these two books (The Texas Method: Part 1 and The Texas Method: Advanced), there are enough variations to run this template for several years; hitting 350/450/550 (bench, squat, deadlift) is easily attainable for any man with the balls big and hairy enough to tackle The Texas Method.
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How To Make A Training Session

Recently both of my younger brothers asked me to help them with a training program. One of the first “lessons” I gave them was how to organize a training session for a program oriented towards getting stronger, building size, and leaning out. Here is a quick guide on how to do so.

  • Begin with a general warm-up. This can be light calisthenics, walking, jogging, rowing, or biking for 2 to 10 minutes.
  • Do some mobility work. Massage or roll first, then stretch. Rolling the soft tissue helps loosen it up before trying to stretch on it. I’m going to remake a video o this soon, but hit the upper back, lower back, hips, and quads at a minimum. Joint approximation should be done last. The point of mobility before training is to improve range of motion to facilitate good mechanics — especially if the correct ROM of the exercise is limited.
  • Warm-up with the main lift you’re doing that day. That means start with the bar for a set of five and then progressively add weight until you reach the first set. As your warm-up sets go up, titrate the reps down. For example, if my first set was 225×5, I could do warm-ups like this:
    • 45×5
    • 95×5
    • 135×5
    • 185×3
    • 205×2 or 1
    • First set of 225×5
  • Do all of the work sets for the main lift of that day. Bodybuilding programs like to add unnecessary super-sets; to get stronger and bigger, do the compound strength movement first. Do it for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.
  • Now it’s time for assistance exercises. Do compound exercises before isolation exercises. Do the strength related exercises first; do the hypertrophy (or muscle building) exercises last. Do them for 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps.
    • Compound assistance exercises include pull-ups, rows, lunges, and dips. You won’t need much more than this.
    • Isolation assistance exercises include curls or triceps extensions. Don’t bother with leg curls or leg extensions.

Werner Gunthor lifted, sprinted, and jumped his way into your heart.

Werner Gunthor lifted, sprinted, and jumped his way into your heart.

  • Finish the session with high intensity conditioning. Conditioning should be something short and hard, just like your pecker. 30 seconds of running fast, 30 seconds of rest on a treadmill. Or 30 second bike sprint and then 30 seconds of easy pace. 50 to 150 burpees for time. 400m sprints. Some of the old benchmark CrossFit workouts like “Cindy” (you can cap the time at 10 minutes) and “Helen” are pretty good. Push a sled. Sprint up a hill. Running has a bad rap because it’s the worst fucking thing ever, but athletes need to sprint. You can’t look like an athlete without training like one. So, sprint.

There’s nothing flashy or sexy about how to organize a training session. Do something that looks like this three or four times a week consistently, sleep eight hours a night, and pay attention to not eating like shit, and any beginner will make progress.

If you’re interested in beginning diet information, read “Garbage In; Garbage Out” or “Improving Diet“.