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From 0 to 100: Know your percentages!

Von 0 bis 100: Kenne Deine Prozentsätze!

Here is a brief summary:

  1. Knowing the effects of each training zone will allow you to make the best choices when it comes to putting together your training plans.
  2. Each training zone from 0 to 100% of your 1RM weight has a specific effect on speed, muscle hardness, muscle density and hypertrophy.
  3. Percentages cannot always be followed to the letter. Some days 80% will feel like 90%, but these general guidelines will help you plan your training to get the results you're after.

Although training percentages will vary depending on how you feel on a given day, they can still be extremely useful. If you know the specific training effect of different levels of load, then you can choose the weight that is most appropriate for your goals. Here's something you'll rarely find: a list of different percentages of 1RM weight that explains what each type of training load has to offer and what kind of body development it can give you.

0 percent of 1RM (body weight)

Using only your own bodyweight is great for developing explosive power and speed. Unsurprisingly, the two are closely linked. In almost all cases, those who can jump the highest are also those who can sprint the fastest (by this I mean "run", and not necessarily a 40 meter sprint, which is a very technical test of ability). I live in a fairly cold climate with snow for 5 months of the year and this makes running problematic. However, I have found that improving my maximum jump capacity during the winter months allows an athlete to get faster without doing much actual sprint training.

Very few people are truly explosive and utilizing jumps and sprints is the best way to solve this problem. Trying to move weights explosively when you are not capable of moving fast is counterproductive. So if you lack the capacity to move a barbell explosively, then you should first focus on being able to move more explosively in jumps and sprints. However, you should be aware of the fact that even if you are not moving weights, jumps and sprints - if you give them your all - are a very high-intensity type of work that demands a lot from your nervous system. Therefore, the volume should be at the lower end of the spectrum and training sessions where you go all out should be limited to twice a week.

Bodyweight training can be used to develop strength endurance with exercises such as pull-ups and dips. It can even be used to develop strength in more complex exercises, although it is not the best tool for these purposes due to the technical skill component involved.

Effects on performance: Increases explosive power and speed and improves strength endurance.

Effects on muscles: Improves muscle hardness

10 percent of the 1 RM

This percentage is a bit low for lower body strength speed/ballistic training, but appropriate for ballistic upper body training. The best example of using 10% of RM for ballistic upper body training is different types of medicine ball throws - e.g. throws with 10% of your 1RM weight for standing shoulder presses, overhead throws and throws from the chest with 10% of your 1RM weight for bench presses. For me, medicine ball throws are on the same level as jumps. They are great for teaching your body to explode and are a very important tool for a strong athlete who wants to learn to develop the capacity to be able to move heavy weights at high speed.

Being powerful requires you to be both strong and explosive. If you are already strong, then the key to success is to work on your contraction speed using throws and jumps.

Effects on performance: builds upper body contraction speed.

Effects on muscles: improves muscle hardness.

20 percent of the 1 RM

This is the lower end of the optimal load zone for ballistic movements of the lower body. Jump squats (either with a barbell on your shoulders or with dumbbells in your hands or a kettlebell held between your legs or goblet squats) are best performed in a training zone that starts at 20% of your maximum weight for squats.

For example, if your 1 RM weight for squats is 200 kilos, then a weight of 40 kilos (20 percent) is the minimum load with which you will achieve maximum results from this exercise. You can achieve this by using a 40 kilo barbell on your shoulders, a 20 kilo dumbbell in each hand or a 40 kilo kettlebell held between your legs.

This lower end of the optimal spectrum is the best option for people who have little experience with explosive movements and who are much stronger than they are fast. Good exercises you can use for this include jumping squats, jumping lunges and the jumping version of Romanian deadlifts.

Effects on performance: builds lower body contraction speed.

Effects on muscles: improves muscle hardness.

30 percent of the 1 RM

This is the upper end of the optimal load zone for ballistic lower body training. Speed production is about the same as at 20% of 1RM, but speed is slightly lower, while power production is a touch higher. This is more appropriate for individuals who already have significant experience with explosive training.

Remember that when performing explosive training, you cannot use the same approach as you would for regular exercises with weights. You should not aim to use the heaviest weight you can jump with, but instead try to increase explosiveness with a specific weight.

Effects on performance: builds lower body contraction speed.

Effects on muscles: improves muscle hardness.

40 percent of the 1 RM

This is the weight limit that only the most extreme freaks should use for explosive training with ballistic exercises. Remember that the goal when performing ballistic training is not to see how much weight you can jump with, but to become maximally explosive. 40% is the maximum a highly trained athlete should use for ballistic exercises. As evidence of this, it should be mentioned that sports scientists from the Soviet Union found a strong correlation between jumping performance with 40% of maximum weight in squats and maximum weight in snatches.

Effects on performance: upper weight limit for improving speed, lower end of the range for increasing explosiveness and speed.

Effects on muscles: too low to stimulate hypertrophy.

50 percent of the 1 RM

This is what I consider to be the best load for speed training with regular strength exercises. This is the range where maximum speed/power is 90% of the population. Training at maximum power will improve recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers and dramatically increase muscle hardness and density.

Remember that if you choose to perform speed training, you should not go near exhaustion/muscle failure. You need to be explosive on ALL repetitions. We are talking about 3 to 5 repetitions per set, and you should try to perform each repetition as explosively as possible.

Effects on performance: builds explosiveness and power/speed.

Effects on muscles: dramatically increases muscle hardness and density.

60 percent of the 1 RM

This is the maximum load that has a significant muscle-building effect. To achieve this effect, you should either

  1. Perform emphasized eccentric repetitions (a very slow lowering of the weight) to maximally activate mTOR. With this technique, you do not have to go to muscle failure to achieve gains.

or

  1. Perform as many repetitions until you reach a point close to muscle failure.

60% is not a sufficient mechanical load to have an impact on growth without causing a significant amount of metabolic fatigue and a significant accumulation of metabolic waste products. Therefore, performing a set that is completed 2 to 3 repetitions before reaching muscle failure will not do much in terms of muscle growth (although it will work with heavier weights).

For performance training, 60% of the 1RM is the maximum load you should use for speed training with regular strength exercises, although only people who are naturally very explosive should use this weight.

Effects on performance: the heaviest weight you should use to build explosiveness and power/speed.

Effects on muscles: builds muscle to a certain extent

70 percent of the 1 RM

This is the lower end of the optimal range when it comes to stimulating hypertrophy. This can be achieved either by performing regular sets to near muscle failure (with around 10 reps per set) where you focus on the quality of the contractions or by performing a high density workout - where you try to perform a total of 30 reps in the shortest possible time (performing 4 to 6 reps at a time with very short rest intervals).

70% of the 1RM is also the optimal load to build explosiveness when using variations of Olympic weightlifting exercises (power snatches, power thrusts, push presses, etc.), although in this case you should not perform so many repetitions that you fatigue and lose speed. Three to five repetitions is an adequate range for most people.

Effects on performance: optimal range for developing explosiveness in Olympic weightlifting exercises.

Effects on muscles: lower end of the range for stimulating hypertrophy.

80 percent of the 1 RM

This is the upper end of the optimal range when it comes to stimulating hypertrophy. Similar to the 70% range, hypertrophy can be achieved by performing straight sets to near the point of muscle failure (with around 6 repetitions per set) or by performing high density training - trying to perform 30 total repetitions in the shortest possible time (performing sets of 2 to 3 repetitions with very short rest intervals).

80% of the 1RM is also the best range to build strength if you don't want to impair your recovery too much. In this case, multiple sets of 3 to 5 repetitions (usually for 3 to 5 sets) are the right load pattern. When performing variations of Olympic weightlifting exercises, 80% of the 1RM is the load that will build both power and strength (70% of the 1RM will build more speed/speed and 90% of the 1RM will build more strength).

Effects on performance: best percentage for building strength .

Impact on muscle: top end of the range for building muscle.

90 percent of the 1RM

This is what I would consider the upper end of the optimal zone for strength. I used to recommend that strength athletes train frequently in the 90 to 100% range, but over time I've found that even though this range is very effective for quick strength gains (which is basically learning to show what strength you have), it's not the best range to really build strength.

Furthermore, you can't train in the 90 to 100% range for too long or achieve a sufficient training volume to consolidate strength gains without risking neuronal exhaustion. If you train in this range, 2 to 5 sets of 1 to 3 repetitions are ideal.

Effects on performance: optimal range for rapid increases in strength.

Effects on the muscles: increases muscle hardness and density.

100 percent of the 1 RM

Training with more than 90% of the 1RM is best performed in the form of short training cycles designed to demonstrate the strength you have built up by training in the 80 to 90% range of the 1RM. Training in the 92 to 100% range of the 1RM can lead to rapid strength gains in well-trained individuals, but these are mainly based on improvements in neural factors.

Recent experiments have led me to conclude that training in the 92 to 100% range of the 1RM should be limited to short periods (of 2 to 3 weeks duration) to maximize strength performance, and such periods are not intended as a way to build strength.

Although an occasional single repetition at 92 to 97% of your 1RM is fine, true training in the 92 to 100% range should be limited to 2 to 3 weeks out of 12 weeks and only used for 3 to 4 single repetitions per training session.

Effects on performance: rapidly increases strength via neural factors.

Effects on the muscles: increases muscle hardness and muscle density.

An overview of the individual areas and their effects

Load in % 1RM

Effects on performance

Effects on the muscles

0-10

Speed training through plyometric exercises/jumps or medicine ball throws

Will improve muscle hardness

20-40

Ballistic training (jumps with additional weight) to maximize power/speed development

Will improve muscle hardness

40-60

Regular strength exercises performed explosively to develop power production

Minimum effective load to stimulate growth (60%)

70

Optimal weight to develop speed strength with variations of Olympic weightlifting exercises (70%)

Lower end of the best zone to stimulate growth

80

Best load to develop maximum strength without impairing recovery

Upper end of the best zone to stimulate growth. In my experience, 75-80% is best for hypertrophy

90

Optimal training load to maximize strength development (85-90%)

Will improve muscle hardness and density

100

Training load best for learning how to demonstrate maximal strength (92-100%)

No additional benefits compared to 90%

I'm the first to point out that you can't always follow percentages to the letter. 80% may feel like 90% some days because you're tired or sick, but knowing the effects of training in each training zone will allow you to make the best choices when developing your training plans.

By Christian Thibaudeau

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/training/from-0-to-100-know-your-percentages

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