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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 01-14-2013, 03:34 PM   #1
Justin M. Furtado
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What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Can someone explain to me the theory behind using percentages with lifts instead of just lifting as much as you can? I'm doing wendler 531 and on my 2nd cycle. Most if the time the working reps seem fairly easy. If you know your 1rm is 400 for deadlifts why do 75,80,85% instead of just doing all working sets at like 90%? Thanks in advance
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:47 PM   #2
Eric Montgomery
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Because doing percentages for fixed numbers of reps gives you a good balance of volume and intensity. Doing too many reps at too high of a percentage of your 1RM is a good way to burn yourself out and stunt your progress...more isn't always better. If you're doing 5/3/1, the first two sets shouldn't be that hard but you should be getting plenty out of your + sets and your assistance work to keep getting bigger and stronger. And the second month isn't supposed to feel all that heavy...that's why Wendler tells people to use the training max of 90% of your 1RM. Trust the program and you'll be fine...if you don't believe me, set up a spreadsheet to show what weights you'll be working with 6 or 12 months from now. My guess is that they're numbers you'd be happy with.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:27 PM   #3
Justin M. Furtado
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Cool sounds good thanks
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:15 PM   #4
Donald Lee
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Wendle 5/3/1 uses intensity cycling combined with weekly undulating periodization. Weekly undulation just means that the rep schemes change every week (i.e., 3x10, 3x5, 3x3).

A traditional "high volume intensity loading" (aka. traditional intensity cycling) form of programming would look something like this:

Wk 1 (adjustment/deload wk) - same sets x rep scheme (65% 1RM)
Wk 2 - " " (70%)
Wk 3 - " " (75%)
Wk 4 - " " (80%)
Wk 5 - " " (85%)

The above would be an example of a 5 week cycle where the volume is held relatively constant because you're not changing the sets or reps, but the intensity goes up each week. You can use as little as 3-4 wk training cycles for beginner/intermediates and still get a positive training effect. With the more advanced, you'll often see 5+ wk cycles starting with 1-2 week submaximal adjustment weeks that may also end with 1-2 week submaximal restoration/deload weeks.

Another form of programming called "high intensity volume loading" keeps the intensity high and cycles the volume instead. This is what the sprinter coach Charlie Francis would use because he didn't feel submaximal sprinting didn't do much for sprinting.

With both of the above loading protocols, the weekly training load increases throughout the cycle, imposing greater stress to elicit the adaptation you're seeking. When you train, you get the adaptations you're seeking (i.e., hypertrophy, strength, etc.), but you also become more adept at handling the amount of stress you're imposing on yourself. What you did yesterday or last week or last month won't cause as much of a stress response, so you have to increase the training load to create that stress response. Of course, you can't continue to increase intensity or volume forever or you'd burn out, which is why cycling intensity and/or volume is a popular form of programming.

The form of programming where you just pound away doing the same thing and trying to improve without adjusting intensity or volume is called uniform loading. An example of this would be Bulgarian WL. Many PL folks nowadays seem to be using uniform loading. They try to make gains through addressing weaknesses in their lifts. Uniform loading can be useful for sports with a high technique component. Anatoly Bondarchuck used it successfully with his hammer throwers. The upside of this approach is that gains come quickly, but the downside is that the rapid gains quickly flatten out after a few weeks.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:03 PM   #5
Justin M. Furtado
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Wow thanks for the excellent replies guys makes sense now. Much appreciated!
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:42 PM   #6
Jesse Martin
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

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Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery View Post
show what weights you'll be working with 6 or 12 months from now. My guess is that they're numbers you'd be happy with.

This is a great point. I get in arguments all the time with the linear progression camp who thinks you have to be super advanced before you get into 5/3/1.

Since doing 5/3/1 I have progressed over 100 lbs on squat and DL and 50 lbs on BP and press.

3 weeks on starting strength and I hated life (it's a great program, I love it. Just not for everyone).

OP, just follow the program. 5/3/1 produces. If you feel it's to easy you can add a drop set. I take 10% off the bar after the main lift and do another lift +1 rep of the main lift.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:41 PM   #7
Justin M. Furtado
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Yeah I will stick with it. I also want to do an oly cycle like catalyst. How would one work that in? Do a few cycle of 531 then a 12 week oly cycle?
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:24 AM   #8
Brendan McNamar
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

We stall linear progression first then switch to Wendler.

The first 2 or 3 cycles are not bad. We are heading into our 5th cycle and it is getting heavy and hard.

Give it a couple more cycles. On my less developed lifts (upper body due to an injury a couple of years ago) the progress has been great.
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:40 AM   #9
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald Lee View Post
Wendle 5/3/1 uses intensity cycling combined with weekly undulating periodization. Weekly undulation just means that the rep schemes change every week (i.e., 3x10, 3x5, 3x3).


Wk 1 (adjustment/deload wk) - same sets x rep scheme (65% 1RM)
Wk 2 - " " (70%)
Wk 3 - " " (75%)
Wk 4 - " " (80%)
Wk 5 - " " (85%)
What is the rep set up on the 5 week cycle?
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Old 01-15-2013, 06:42 AM   #10
Nik Nichols
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Re: What's the idea of doing percentages instead?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin M. Furtado View Post
Yeah I will stick with it. I also want to do an oly cycle like catalyst. How would one work that in? Do a few cycle of 531 then a 12 week oly cycle?
After a few cycles you will be hitting the weight like you want. It took me a few months to get to where I like, it is a slow plan but a great plan. Take your time and build solid form and muscle.
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