Tag Archives: powerlifting routine

Prilepin Chart and How To Design Your Own Powerlifting Program

For anyone who doesn’t know of A.S. Prilepin, I will save you the trouble and tell you that he watched the most successful lifters in the most successful country (Russia) and made a few determinations about their training. His observations, while simple are how PL programming is created even today. His observations are in the chart below–assuming posting this doesn’t monkey it up beyond repair. 

What is it?

It is a chart that determines the number of sets and reps that are to be used in training high level athletes. There is a reason that it is still used all of these many years later. It is the foundation for most successful training systems in use today–including westside. It includes a training zone and it’s corresponding rep ranges and what is considered optimal.

Who will benefit from this information?

I hesitate to say everyone. I know that everyone doesn’t want to know what goes into their training–and they for damn sure don’t want to do it themselves. That used to be me–“put it on the bar coach, you’re the thinker, I’m the lifter.” I eventually took control of my own program design–but my coach still bitches anyway. But, intermediate to advanced lifters will benefit from knowing how to use this table seamlessly. But because I am a pompous ass, I am including novice lifters anyway.

How is it used?

For example, If I am working at 90%, I consult the chart and it will tell me that I need a reps per set of 1-2 and that I should optimally perform 7 meaningful reps. However, there is a range of 4-10, which is to accommodate for your training max (if you feel like shit and cant keep going) and your 1RM (if you feel like a freight train). It is pretty simple.

General Users:

This is the simplest method of using the table. You will have a day where you operate in a single intensity zone and you will not vary from it in such a way that would alter your set or rep range. You will make up for not having multiple intensity zones by lifting over more days–i.e. You will squat 2-3 days per week.

Example Plan:

Monday 90-100+% 1RM
Reps per set: 1-2
Optimal reps: 7
Rep range: 4-10

Execution: Don’t be a dumbass and not warm up. But don’t warm up in such a way to compromise your attempts on your 1RM. Higher rep warm-ups should be at low percentages, and higher percentage warm-ups should be made as singles–if possible. Be reasonable, and know when you are ready to go.

Thursday 55-70% 1RM
Reps per set: 3-6
Optimal reps: 24
Rep range: 18-30

Execution: Warm-up and follow the plan.

Intermediate Lifters: The Prilepin Number of Lifts Score

Now for the math squeamish, this may seem horrifying. But little know fact: Most PLers are mathematicians—just ****ing with you…most people hate math. But for the purposes of planning a training cycle, it is important–hear me out.

PNLS = Number Of Performed Lifts in Zone/Upper Total Limit

So if I did 10 lifts in the 90% range, I would have a PNLS score of 10 (number of lifts I did) /10(number from the chart) =1. Now keep in mind that this score is representative of that one lift and it does NOT encompass your accessory work. So you can see that an optimal PNLS score would be .7 or so.

Problem: Nobody works in a single intensity zone, you know-nothing bastar….ok ok.

Solution: Basic phone calculator with the same formula should square you away.

Example: If you did 10 reps at 55-70%, 5 reps at 70-79%, and 3 reps at 90+% you will have 10 (what you did)/30 (max reps from chart), 5/24, 3/10. Restating–10/30 (.3) +5/24 (.21) +3/10 (.3) = .3+.21+.3= .81 PNLS or a pretty good day–and a really damn good example seeing as how I guessed at it.

Problem: I can get the same PNLS by doing the different percentages with the same reps as long as I am in the same intensity zone.

Solution: Stop being a loop-hole seeking dickhead. Don’t you want to be better? Jk….I mean you are a dick, but the loop-hole is about to close: A slight modification to the formula that rewards precision. The Intensity and Number of Lifts (INOL) formula. It is defined like this: Number of Lifts(NOL) at a given intensity/100 – intensity.

Restated: INOL = Number of lifts at your chosen percentage / 100 – (your intensity).

Example: Bench 2×6 @ 60% and 3×5 @ 75% = 2×6/(100-60) + 3×5/(100-75)= .3 + .6= .9

Problem: 2×6 @60% is the same thing as 6×2@60%. Well, the more fragmented your INOL is, less fatigue was incurred per each set. So have a defined purpose when you design the program. Did you want the sets to be low rep and light for a DE day? If so, one way is more optimal than the other.

Guidelines for Using INOL

Weekly INOL Guidelines:

<2 easy
2-3 tough
3-4 Unsustainable
>4 Overtraining

Single Workout INOL of a single exercise:

<0.4 Do you even lift???
0.4-1 Good
1-2 Difficult
>2 Assault and battery on yourself.

The mathematical scores for the Prilepin tables are the ideas of a guy named Hristov. Smart guy that was looking for a definitive method to utilize the table. These are his ideas and not Prilepin’s. It is also of note that Hristov didn’t come out with his ideas until the last decade, so clearly you can use the table without the formulas.

I don’t want to do any of the stupid mathematics, I just want to lift….so what?

No problem, but keep in mind that thousands of people either developed the table with their success (that is why they were selected and studied by Prilepin) or have been successful because of that table. The table should be regarded highly. The numbers you can take or leave. I just have always thought they were neat.

Did I use them? Yes. At one time my programming was solely based on the Prilepin table and Hristov’s data interpretation. Now, my loading has moved into my own formula based on my performance.

Now I hope you hated this boring garbage as much as I hated digging up the email from the bastard (that owes me money) that sent it to me.

Source: Unknown but I didn’t write it.

Female client: bench press personal best, heavy holds and giant set training

This workout focused on some heavy bench pressing where Kristen set a personal best of 100 pounds for 6 reps.  She was going to just do 90 lbs but she felt good during her warm ups.  I always say to self assess and she did!  She took advantage of feeling strong and it paid off!  She ends up doing 90 pounds for her next two sets for 6 reps each!  She really did great.

Dipping away

She finished with heavy hand offs to get her brain use to heavy weights in the press position.  Once in a meet her next actual personal best will feel like nothing as she has conditioned her mind to be use to those training loads.  Many people are often broken mentally feeling that initial weight of the bar.

Kristen finished doing giant sets of full body training using basic movements that she likes but that are also consistent with her goals.

Free Powerlifting Routine

DO NOT TRAIN TO FAILURE UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO. After your warm-ups you’re going to pick a weight, and use that same weight for all three sets. If it is done perfect here is how it will occur. It would do a set of 10 repetitions. Then rest. For you use at least 2 minutes rest on smaller lifts and 3-4 on the big lifts.

Use a stopwatch to stay consistent in your rest intervals. After your rest, using the same weight, you will do another set, this set will be harder then the first but NOT to failure, if you can do more than 10 reps with it DO NOT, we are looking to do the first two sets to add volume, the last set is the only one that will be taken close to failure.

I’m not overly worried if you don’t get your reps for the sets because it will still be stimulating growth but stay the course. DO NOT take sets to failure. Think of your rep goals and live to fight another day. Ed Coan always left a rep or two in the gym and it served him well.

If the weight is too light: Let’s say you got 1 x 10, 1 x 10, and then on the last set you get to rep 10 and it is obvious you can do more reps, go ahead and get the additional reps. But once again take the last repetition only to the point where you get all the reps in good form. DO NOT ATTEMPT A REP THAT YOU WILL NOT GET BY EITHER FAILING ON THE REP, OR HAVING FORM BREAK DOWN TO GET IT.

Again, on these routines you will fail if you take all your work sets to failure. On multiple set lifts you should use the same weight for all sets. As an example if you are doing rows for three sets of eight, the first should be relatively easy, the second should be a pretty hard set and a third should be almost a failure but not quite. When you know you going to fail on the last rep don’t attempt it.

This routine uses the Westside layout for spacing the days throughout the week, but can also be done as a 3 day a week program by rolling the last workout of the week into the following week after taking two days off. It uses maximal effort work, dynamic effort work, and repetition work. Decide if you would like to make this a three day a week program and roll the 4th day into the next week.

**Note: sets x reps

Day 1:
Deadlift – 3 x 3 or 3 x 1 @ 80-90-100%,

Following week Box Squat 3x 3 @ 80-90-100%
Front Squat – 3 x 10
Stiff-Legged Deadlift – 3 x 10
Abs, Weighted – 3 x 10

Day 2:
Bench Press – 3 x 3 or 3 x1 @ 90-95-100%
Dumbbell Bench Press – 5 x 10
Lateral Raise – 4 x 12
Cable Row – 5 x 10
Barbell Curl – 5 x 8

Day 3:
Speed Squats (Dynamic Effort) 8 x 2 @ 60-65% of 1 rep max

Good-morning – 2 x 6 using 90-95%
Leg Press – 2 x 10
Hanging Leg Raises – 3 x 12

Day 4:
Bench press (Dynamic Effort) – 8 x 3 @ 60-65%
Weighted Dips – 4 x 10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3 x 8
Chin-Ups – 5 x 10Dumbbell Shoulder Press   –   4 x 8

Free Workout: 3 Day A Week Routine

After your warm-ups you’re going to pick a weight, and use that same weight for all three sets. If it is done perfect here is how it will occur. It would do a set of 10 repetitions. Then rest. Rest periods between sets can be 90 seconds, 2, 3 or 4 minutes. For strength based routines use at least 2 minutes rest on smaller lifts and 3-4 on the big lifts.

You MUST use a stop watch and be consistent with your rest periods. After your rest, using the same weight, you will do another set, this set will be harder then the first but NOT to failure, if you can do more than 10 reps with it DO NOT, we are looking to do the first two sets to add volume, the last set is the only one that will be taken close to failure. Let’s say that on the last set, you get to exactly rep 10 and you know that if you tried another rep you would fail or your form would break down to get the rep, if that is the case it was done perfectly.

Let’s look at what happens if the weight is too heavy. Let’s say you get 10 reps for the first set, 10 for the second. And only 8 for the third. That means the weight was a bit too heavy, no problem you will have still stimulated growth. Do not make your form breakdown or get a spot from your buddy, To make the 10 reps, we are looking to take the last set to one rep short of failure. You should never miss a rep.

Now let’s look at what happens if the wait was too light. Let’s say you got 1 x 10, 1 x 10, and then on the last set you get to rep 10 and it is obvious you can do more reps, go ahead and get the additional reps. But once again take the last repetition only to the point where you get all the reps in good form. DO NOT ATTEMP A REP THAT YOU WILL NOT GET BY EITHER FAILING ON THE REP, OR HAVING FORM BREAK DOWN TO GET IT.

Again, on these routines you will fail if you take all your work sets to failure. On multiple set lifts you should use the same weight for all sets. As an example if you are doing rows for three sets of eight, the first should be relatively easy, the second should be a pretty hard set and a third should be almost a failure but not quite. When you know you going to fail on the last rep don’t attempt it.

Close Grip Bench Press –  3×3
Dumbbell Bench Press   –   3×10
Dumb bell Shoulder Press   –   3×8
Dips   –   3×10
Lat-Pulley Ab Crunch   –   3×10

Rest Day

Pull-Down Machine   –   3×8
Dumb bell Row   –   3×8
Hammer Curls   –   2×8
Reverse Grip Dumbbell Curls   –   3×10
Wrist Curl   –   3×10

Rest Day

Squat   –   3×6
Front Squat   –   3×10
Good Mornings   –   2×10
Hanging Leg Raises   –   3×10
Leg Press Calf Raise   –   3×15

Rest Day

Rest Day

START OVER

Free Workout Routine

Monday
  Chin-up   –   4 x 10
  Hammer Curl   –   3 x 12
  Reverse grip EZ-Bar Curls   –   3 x 10
  Deadlift   –   1 x 3
  Glute/Ham Raise   –   3 x 10
  Standing Calf Raise   –   4 x 20

Tuesday            Rest Day

Wednesday
  Bench Press   –   3 x 10
  Incline Dumbbell Bench Press   –   3 x 12
  Dumbbell Skull Crushers   –   4 x 10
  Lateral Raise   –   5 x 12
  Ab Machine   –   3 x 12 *hold for 1-2 seconds on the top of each movement*

Thursday           Rest Day

Friday
  Supinated Grip Row   –   4 x 10
  Chin-Ups   –   3 x 10
  Preacher Curls   –   3 x 6
  Squat   –   5 x 5 (Starting at 80%
after warm-ups, using 5% increments)
  Seated Calf Raises   –   3 x 20

Saturday           Rest Day

Sunday             Rest Day

Monday
  Dumbbell Bench Press   –   4 x 8
  Dips   –   4 x 8
  Upright Rows *shoulder width grip, raise to lower chest*  –   4 x 12
  Tricep Pushdown   –   4 x 8
  Hanging Leg Raises   –   3 x 10

Tuesday            Rest Day

Wednesday       Rest Day

Thursday: REPEAT