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Old 06-10-2012, 12:13 PM   #1
Chad Lammert
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Default Training, Prilepin, and Goal-focused Cycles

Hi Greg-

Once again, I just want to thank you for creating this place and giving everyone here the opportunity to ask questions related to the world of weightlifting. It's because of your effort that you've got to be one of the best in the biz not only for weightlifting coaching, but also building a weightlifting community. For that, and I'm sure I'm not alone, I thank you.

So, on to my question.

First, in your book you say how the Prilepin table is more descriptive than prescriptive, so immediately I will take what is said here with a grain of salt. However, to what extent should the Prilepin table be included in a lifter's training?

Second, when following a goal-focused cycle, i.e. classic lift position and technique cycle (from your book), does Prilepin fit in at all? For example, just today I was doing week 4's saturday workout where both the snatch and clean and jerk are prescribed 80% x 1 x 3. With a curiosity to incorporate Prilepin, I did those three lifts, but I also made sure to incorporate 15 other lifts below the 80% for a total of 18 lifts. Also, I chose 18 from the optimal column because 805 was just at the top of the 70-79% range and I figured I could use the opportunity to continue technique training.

Third, and last, is my approach to Prilepin's table correct in the first place, or was I supposed to interpret it as 18 lifts to be counted only between the weight ranges of 70-79% and any warm-up reps below 70% should not have been counted--if that is the case, I should get back out there and finish the workout.

Thanks again Greg not only for your time, but also this community.

All the best,

Chad
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:15 AM   #2
Greg Everett
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I never use it. I don't find it helpful, one because of the huge ranges, two because it doesn't address the variability in lifts, three because it doesn't address the variability in lifters, four because it doesn't address the variability in goals for a given lift/workout/program/etc.



The optimal rep Rx is for the reps in the associated % range. So you would have needed 15 more reps between 70-80% to meet its optimal Rx. But in the case of your workout, the goal wasn't to accumulate volume at that %, and notice that you were doing singles, where the table would have you doing 3-6 reps. Doing 18 sets of 1 is much different than doing 6 sets of 3.

Now consider the % range - 70-80%. That's a huge spread. 18 reps at 70% is not a big deal. 18 reps at 80% is pretty tough.

It can be used best in my opinion to simply see if the volume of an exercise prescribed is reasonable. i.e. if you give someone 10 sets of 2 at 90%, you can check the table and see that's outside the range and you should probably knock the number of sets way down. But honestly, stuff like that is pretty obvious I think - not many people would prescribe that kind of volume w that kind of weight.

Then consider something like pulls, which are nearly universally prescribed based on max weights of the associated classic lift. 90% x 2 x 2 clean pulls isn't much of a pull workout, but according to the chart, that's optimal.

So what you end up with is needing to interpret the table pretty creatively, which to me means not really using the table and just using your own judgment anyway. Maybe I just don't get it. But I've not met any weightlifting coaches who have used it (or admitted they do at least), presumably for the reasons above.
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:01 PM   #3
Dave Van Skike
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The chart is a tired bit of exercise dogma...but I think it does have a lot of utility for gen pop. .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Everett View Post
It can be used best in my opinion to simply see if the volume of an exercise prescribed is reasonable. i.e. if you give someone 10 sets of 2 at 90%, you can check the table and see that's outside the range and you should probably knock the number of sets way down. But honestly, stuff like that is pretty obvious I think - not many people would prescribe that kind of volume w that kind of weight.
For most people trying to muddle their way through this rule of thumb is hugely beneficial. I think athletes writing their own exercise prescriptions are often clueless as to what is reasonable until they have tried and failed numerous times.

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Then consider something like pulls, which are nearly universally prescribed based on max weights of the associated classic lift. 90% x 2 x 2 clean pulls isn't much of a pull workout, but according to the chart, that's optimal.
That example is a little unfair as you're using 90% of a clean not 90% of a max clean pull. not that I know or care about the difference between the two but the chart isn't really useable unless you're calculating like things.


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So what you end up with is needing to interpret the table pretty creatively, which to me means not really using the table and just using your own judgment anyway.
IMO, it should be the goal of any self trained athlete (99%) to have learned the how and why of what works for them. Creativity and judgement need to be learned. The chart is a learning tool

Kind of like how fairy tales teach basic rules of consequences, exercise dogma like the chart are good starting points for learning what is reasonable and what is unreasonable..once you have this general sense you can begin to push it.

By the same token, I would not expect a good coach to ever have use of the thing as he/she can tell with their eyes how an individual is reacting to volume or intensity within a very short assessment period.


So..is the chart "Correct"? Probably not...Does it have utility? I think quite a lot.
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Van Skike View Post
For most people trying to muddle their way through this rule of thumb is hugely beneficial. I think athletes writing their own exercise prescriptions are often clueless as to what is reasonable until they have tried and failed numerous times.
Fair enough. Although again, I think its vagueness makes its utility even in this sense more limited than people who are using it would like it to be.

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Originally Posted by Dave Van Skike View Post
That example is a little unfair as you're using 90% of a clean not 90% of a max clean pull. not that I know or care about the difference between the two but the chart isn't really useable unless you're calculating like things.
Well... it was developed as a result of observing weightlifters and intended for programming for weightlifters. Weightlifters calculate pull weights based on classic lifts. So it doesn't seem unfair to me. It seems like it's a problem with the system worth noting for the very beginners you mention above trying to learn how to program. There's no such thing as a 100% pull because where a pull stops being a pull and becomes a deadlift is pretty subjective, and few weightlifters ever pull that heavy anyway.

And even leaving the pull example aside, you can still make the same basic argument using classic lifts versus more strength based lifts like squats. What you can/can't do, or the results of training of each at a given % and volume can be considerably different.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Van Skike View Post
IMO, it should be the goal of any self trained athlete (99%) to have learned the how and why of what works for them. Creativity and judgement need to be learned. The chart is a learning tool

Kind of like how fairy tales teach basic rules of consequences, exercise dogma like the chart are good starting points for learning what is reasonable and what is unreasonable..once you have this general sense you can begin to push it.

By the same token, I would not expect a good coach to ever have use of the thing as he/she can tell with their eyes how an individual is reacting to volume or intensity within a very short assessment period.
I guess that's my issue with it. You can say it's a learning tool to help newer lifters and coaches learn how to program better, but then if you say in order to make good use of it, you have to understand more about programming than what's represented by the table, you're basically saying that a person needs to know more than they can learn from the chart in order to learn from the chart. I'm not saying by any means that it's useless, just that getting hung up on it is probably a mistake. It's one tool in a very large toolbox, and using it for everything is like building cabinets with nothing but a screwdriver.
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:54 PM   #5
Dave Van Skike
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I can't believe I'm defending Prilepin's Chart. But c'mom, be fair...the fact it does not adapt itself to the way some weightlifters calculate accessory movements does not diminish it's utility in the slightest. It's a rule of thumb.


I'll not prejudge what a person does or does not need to know in order to understand the chart. You're correct that it is a tool, but I disagree that it has limited utility or that you need a huge base of knowledge to get it right. My position generally is that most people already have too much information about training. Most would be better off with a limited set of very basic tools to master so they could over time begin to understand how they respond to intensity and volume.


As to what it takes to utilize the chart, the great irony is that it was developed for weightlifters but I'll bet its greatest impact in recent years is with the crowd that re- popularized it, powerlifters. I do know that it's used extremely widely by adherents of the Westside template with great results. I have also found in watching thousands of sets and reps among training partners, trainees etc...when I observe people at working weight (70-99%) across several sets I consistently see a significant drop in performance right about the rep range limits that the chart predicts. I also note that when using some of the most effective progressions (3x5, Ladders, the 531 method) the working reps correspond with the chart with a fair degree of accuracy.

So, yes, It's just a tool. You might need to have a basic understanding of volume and intensity and a working knowledge of what your 1RM is...It might not be effective for calculating certain Olympic lifting set and reps progressions or be applicable to some individuals..But as a guideline for strength training, IME it's a reliable little piece of dogma and the stronger you get, the more accurate it seems to become.
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Old 06-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #6
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Can you give me an example of how you would use it to plan your training (this is a serious question, I'm not trying to get your kilt in a twist) and not just to note that what you did in your training happened fit in its ranges?
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Old 06-11-2012, 12:56 PM   #7
Chad Lammert
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I'm a little bummed because I thought this was going to be some sort of holy grail for programing volume. No matter. When I'm looking at your cycles and I see a day where the prescription is 80% x 1 x 3, what is expected by you the coach regarding warm up sets or back off sets and how can I interpret the sort of volume necessary for that day's workout?
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Old 06-11-2012, 02:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Lammert View Post
I'm a little bummed because I thought this was going to be some sort of holy grail for programing volume.
Unfortunately it doesn't exist. There are so many factors that influence how a given volume of training will affect different lifters (and the same lifter at different times) that it would be impossible to make a simple formula for it. The class system developed by the Soviets is the closest thing to this, and even that needs modification based on age, training experience (neither of which is necessarily aligned as might be expected with class ranking), and lifestyle factors, etc.

As I said, and as Dave said more enthusiastically, it can be of use for some broad guidelines to be sure, but I would suggest you consider it just that: guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Regarding my expectations, I don't have them beyond expecting a lifter to warm-up as ideal for him/herself in order to perform the workout optimally. For some lifters, that means quite a few sets to get to the 80% working sets, and others will be able to get to it very quickly. Largely that's dependent on technical proficiency if we're talking about classic lifts or variants. If I'm looking for a very specific number of lifts, I'll prescribe all sets above 60% explicitly. Often with my own lifters, I'll instruct them on what warm-up wts, sets and reps to take as they're lifting even if it's not written on their programs - this is just based on how that lifter functions generally along with what they look like that day and what I want to see them do that session.
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