Why Percentages?


Why Percentages?

As many of you will notice on strength days we now have multiple categories of programming. This will typically be displayed as follows:

L1/L2 – Squat 5-5-5-5

L3 – Squat 3x5@75% of 1rm

So what is the difference and which one should you be doing?

The first method (5-5-5-5) means that we will do 4 working sets of 5 repetitions increasing the weight each time with the goal that the final set will be the same or even heavier than the last day we squatted. Simple, this type of rep scheme is perfect for most people in their first 12 months of training with us as we should, if nutrition, sleep and recovery are all adequate, be able to slowly increase the weight each time throughout the year. This is one of the simplest forms of programming but it works and is so effective. Unfortunately this method only works for so long usually 12weeks to 12months. That’s when things start to get more complicated and we have likely progressed our strength significantly but in order to keep it going we can’t keep working in the pattern of working to maximal loads and adding weight each session like before.

This is where percentages come in i.e (3x5@75% of 1rm - this is what we call performing 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 75% of your 1 rep max).  We call this “sub maximal loading” (we could lift heavier for 1 set of 5 reps but usually not for the required number of sets that we are asked to perform). This sub maximal reps allows us to move with speed and perfect technique and the repetition and volume of work i.e multiple sets at the same or varying weight drive the adaption within the body increasing strength.

So which version should I be doing?

Everyone should start with the first method, it’s simple, easy to understand and gets amazing results. The goal should be to stay on this version of the programme for as long as possible. If we squat 40 weeks of the year for example and I can add 2.5kg total to each squat session for each of these sessions a 1rm of 100kg would increase to 200kg!!!!!!  An increase of 100kg, why would you ever want to follow a different programme?  Milk this one for every 2.5kg increase you can. When it starts to get difficult don’t abandon ship too soon.  Sit back, assess your training, mobility, nutrition, sleep and recovery.  Ask yourself can you improve these areas to further increase results?  Are you honestly doing all that you can outside of the gym to further these results?  Is everything else on point?  If you can’t honestly answer yes to all of these questions then you need to stick with it and fix all the other areas which have a big impact on your training before switching programmes.

When the day finally comes and we are ready to move on to percentages it requires us to put on our big pants and become more invested in our own training. Firstly we must track our training, I’m not talking about metcon times.  We MUST track our strength numbers EVERY session and here’s why.

I Have a 1rm of

110k full snatch

100kg hang snatch

100kg power snatch

90kg hang power snatch

And this is only variations on 1 movement.  What about clean & jerk, back squat, front squat, overhead squat, deadlift and many more. When using percentages you need to be working off accurate 1rm numbers, not guess work.  We need this all to be stored in Wodify for easy access and also so a coach can double check it with you quickly.

Secondly you need to come to class prepared, you need to quickly and accurately work your percentages out ahead of time as you will not have time in class. This show’s us as coaches that you’re invested in the process and keen to succeed and get your training right. Not that you just want to do what the cool kids do!


Ultimately in the training environment the coach is responsible for your safety, welfare and success. So while you have an input into your training, if a coach has doubts or isn’t satisfied that you are tracking your strength numbers and can accurately and safely work out percentages and show a history of your previous lifts then you will not be working off percentages.

This is now club policy for health and safety reasons. You May record your strength training privately by using the ‘add extra performance section’ in the Wodify app, but you must have a track record of previous lifts on the Wodify app.  This applies to everyone in the gym regardless of ability or experience.

Help us, help you and learn your numbers and be responsible for your own training. 

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank You


Team CFB


Posted in WOD.

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