Working In Percentages

No one wants to bust out a calculator and have to think at the gym, thats why we go to the gym - to not think. Math is obnoxious but training percentages are important.

What are Training Percentages?

Training percentages are reference numbers which, when used correctly, aid in the design of effective training programs by facilitating the simultaneous development of numerous strength qualities.

Break it down...

The training percentages are referring to your 1-Rep Max (1RM) for any particular lift. A 1RM can be defined as "the maximum amount of weight an individual can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise." By testing, keeping track, and retesting these lifts, you can get an accurate gauge of your rate of improvement.

Implementing these training percentages can help facilitate the improvement of numerous strength qualities such as;

  • Maximal Strength: Is characterized by the ability to lift as much weight as possible irrespective of time. Squatting for a 1RM is a perfect example of maximal strength.
  • Explosive Strength: Is characterized by the ability to demonstrate high amounts of force in a very short period of time. A well-executed Olympic lift is a perfect example of explosive strength.
  • Speed Strength: Is characterized by the ability to move at high speeds with relatively low external resistance. Sprinting 100 meters is a perfect example of speed strength.

How it relates

We're developing maximal strength. Training for strength means maximal or near maximal loads which will be around 85%-95% of your 1RM.

But we can't just focus on lifting heavy, we also have to focus on lifting quickly. It's essential to understand the importance of speed in relation to max strength. If you're not capable to accelerating quickly, then strength can be negatively affected.

Greater acceleration leads to greater force, which leads to heavier weights being lifted. Training for speed means lighter weights with the goal of moving them as quickly as possible which is typically in the 5-6 rep rage of 60%-75% of your 1RM.

Incorporating a wide variety of percentages with the consistent goal of moving weights as explosively as possible will lead to the best strength outcomes.


When you know your 1RM and you are given training percentages to work in, you are essentially holding yourself accountable. Sure every day in the gym is different depending on how much sleep you got, how much food you ate, or any particular stressors from the day but even if you're feeling tired, lazy, or unmotivated, you're less likely to sell yourself short and quit if your told exactly what to lift.

We're taking away a lot of the guesswork for you and providing instantaneous direction to many of you who otherwise would be confused as to how much weight they should be lifting in a given training session. 

More importantly, using training percentages gives you direction and purpose with your training - a goal - which can make a profound difference in long-term progress.

This also means no skipping of testing week...

Percentage-based training also provides structure to your training. All too often, we get sucked into the mindset that the only way to get stronger is to add more weight each and every week. It kind-of makes sense. But it also kind-of leads to injury and burn-out.

Training with percentages helps to 'pull in the reigns' and appreciate that it's okay and more often than not, beneficial to back off and trust the process.

Moreover, it encourages you to "earn the right" to put more weight on the bar. By performing "x" number of reps within a specific percent-range, it forces you to work on some gross imbalances, weaknesses, and techniques, which then translate to better performances once you again attack the big boy or big girl numbers.



Trust the process. Embrace the suck.

Ali SchumacherComment