What you are getting yourself into - 866 Words
Estimated read time - 6-10 Minutes
When it comes to the topic of fatigue management usually the topics covered are things like, sleep, nutrition, supplements and rest days. In regards to auto-regulating training models exist such as RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) coined originally by powerlifting legend Mike Tuchscherer (The older guys of yesteryear used to say leave a few reps in the tank; which is essentially the same thing without quantifying how many you should leave). Percentage based training typically uses deload weeks or “tapers” towards competitions or when fatigue peaks. One focuses primarily on managing fatigue during each session so that essentially a deload week isn't necessary or can be delayed; the other focuses on implementing rest periods for the body to recover at specific intervals. Both can be used interchangeably or concurrently and both have been field tested and work. I’ll be focusing more on training models rather than the typical sleep, eat repeat stuff that most people have covered to death and anyone with half a brain and some training knowledge knows how to do.
The model i’m going to share is neither RPE based or percentage based approaches but incorporates elements of both in a different way. I first saw this method proposed in the late, great Mel C. Siffs book Supertraining, and it piqued my interest; then later I stumbled across a book name THE APRE (Autoregulatory Progressive Resistance Exercise) by Bryan Mann which included a simple efficient breakdown of how he incorporated the method into a workable model. It included the system based on 3RM, 6RM, and 10RMs that Siffs book covered with recommended loading parameters built in. I had taken this concept and made my own tables while training individuals and coincidently they were very close to what Bryan Mann had in his book; although mine had percentage increments rather than weight increments and mine included two extra protocols such as 5RM and 8RM which you could argue is just like 6RM and 10RM protocols; unless you've done those rep ranges then you know 10 reps is a hell of a mountain in comparison to 8.
So what is this thing? The basic idea behind it is extremely simple, yet very effective. Let’s say we take a 5 repetition max squat as an example; roughly 80% of your 1RM you warm up effectively maybe with 50% then 75% of your 80% working set then go balls to the wall and try and get as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP). Lets say it’s a pretty good day in the office and with acceptably decent form you hit 7 repetitions. Your next set will go up 2.5 to 5kg (5 - 10lbs for my American friends) or as I prefer 2-4% of the percentage you started with. Then you hit that next set after a long rest period for another AMRAP. Our theoretical lunatic lifter hits 6 repetitions on that set. This means next time around the lifter uses the modified increase as the main working AMRAP and the cycle begins again.
The wonderful thing about this system is it is based on what I call true fatigue; it is not based on what you think you can do, but rather what you can actually do. This is an important point of difference with the RPE based system as it isn’t perceived exertion it’s actual exertion. This is particularly important for people who overthink their workout or have a poor concept of utilising the RPE scale. I’ve found that the RPE scale works well for calm lifters but horribly for intense lifters. “RPE 7? NO PROBLEM MAN; I’M GONNA CRUSH THIS FUCKING SET”. Next minute: RPE11.5 for a set of 5 and a half horrible reps. That is not to say that any model or system is perfect or that somehow by going to failure someone won’t be idiotic enough to do forced reps or have the reps deteriorate to the point of no return but it does allow someone to push as hard as possible within their true capacity, and I like that. I also like the fact that if a particular lift is stuck this will tend to unstick it pronto.
Alright Steve but how do implement this exactly? Don’t stress, I got you covered. Below is a cheat sheet of how I personally use this system for some of my athletes. If you need more guidance regarding how to use the system I recommend picking up Bryan Mann’s book THE APRE for a simple easy to read more in depth guide.
Implementation recommendations would be if you’re running this method do it on a single lift that needs the most work. I would run the 10-5RM blocks twice a week and the 3RM once a week as it can be quite taxing. You can transition from one block to another every 3 weeks gradually building to a 3RM cycle and then transitioning to a retest day after a 4-10 day deload depending on your size and training age. Bigger people tend to take longer to recover and vice versa. Each individual can vary in their capacity to perform reps vs a true 1RM and the variation in 3rm to 6rm can be great sometimes. If people are interested I will make a post about how you can scale the rep ranges and effectiveness of each range for the individual as well as more complicated ways to incorporate this method that can be used.
Give this a run and watch your numbers rise.
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