Have you been stuck in a plateau when it comes to strength gaining? This simple and easy-to-implement method could be the key to unlocking additional strength gains.
Percentage based strength training makes things simple and allows you to practice progressive overload.
To start you’ll need to find your 1 rep max. You can do this by “maxing out” to find your true one rep maximum or (my preferred method) you can use estimates by finding your 3 rep maximum which will equate to about 90-93% of your 1RM.
Once you determine your 1 RM you’ll want to determine the amount of reps and sets you want to do. In The Strong Human Program we start at about 90% of our 1 RM week one and attempt to complete a 3X3. Throughout the course of the 6-week training block, we hope to take that 90% and turn it into about 85-88% of our 1 RM and complete a 5X5 week 6 using the same weight we started with.
Knowing what your max strength is allows you to optimize your performance in your workouts.
For example, if your max bench press is 275 and you’re performing a 5X5 at 205 pounds or 75% of your 1RM, you’re leaving a lot of progress off of the bar. In theory you’d be able to do 205 for sets of 8-10 reps depending on your rest periods and conditioning. If you know how strong you are, you’re able to push yourself harder.
One thing to keep in mind with percentage based training: 90% of your 1 RM is not 90% of your 1RM everyday. Some days you’ll feel stronger, some days you’ll feel weaker. You don’t need to test every week in order to know where your strength is at. Instead, test at the start of a training block (6 weeks for The Strong Human) and then again after the completion of that training block. As always, listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
The amount of progress you see will probably be related to your experience as a trainee. Someone who is newer to strength training is going to see a much quicker increase in strength than someone who is more experienced.
Train hard, train smart, train consistently.