T Nation

Mathematical Approach to Workouts

Are any of you guys interested in the mathematical approach of quantifying the effectiveness of your workouts? I am trying to look for a system in which I can readily quantify how well a workout went when using different rep schemes and different weight and am having difficulty finding one.

Whenever I up the weight for a lift I find that the number of reps that I can complete decrease and I feel as though I am not completing enough work to guarantee progression.

Is there a formula out there that I can use that applies to varying the weight used in an exercise and the number of reps over time I need to complete to maintain progression?

I don’t think anyone has been able to truly objectively quantify the effectiveness of a workout mathematically. Some people have tried. There is a book titled Power Factor Training, where the authors use a formula to calculate the “power factor” of each workout, and your goal is to increase your power factor each workout.

There is also a formula for lifting volume (weight x reps = volume). But it is not meant to calculate the effectiveness of a workout. It is only for quantifying volume, so that volume can be monitored and adjusted.

I think there are too many variables to easily apply a mathematical model to a workout. Maybe someone can do it, but it’s beyond my math abilities.

The volume method can work for what you are looking for, but not very effectively in a “workout to workout” basis.

You are not likely to be improving every single workout. You will drive yourself crazy trying to quantify every workout.

Are you stronger now than last week? Last month, or last year? Long term improvement is where it’s at.

LA

What about simply calculating tonnage moved per minute? -or hour? -or whatever? -then improving upon what you’ve accomplished?

Look up Waterbury’s Set Rep Bible.

That should give you the input you’re looking for.

peace

Or you can just follow any of the programs on T-Nation - progression is already built in.

The problem with using a mathematical formula is that it discounts some of the most important factors in training.

For example, a bodybuilder could go in one day and do 3 sets of 6 with 100 pounds and the next workout do 3 sets of 5 with 90 pounds, but the second workout he focused more on the form and the muscle contraction and got a better workout. Or an athlete might squat a certain amount one day, but the next workout he squats the same amount more explosively, how can you account for that?

Training is just means to an end, so I think it’s more productive to look at indicators (are my arms getting bigger? is my vertical leap increasing? etc., etc.) and see how they are progressing, rather than the training itself so much.

i used to everything mathematical but later found out to be a large waste of time.

i say either add more weight, do more reps, or handle the weight easier from workout to workout. thats all u need to know in order to get stronger. no mathematics involved

[quote]Pauli D wrote:
What about simply calculating tonnage moved per minute? -or hour? -or whatever? -then improving upon what you’ve accomplished?

Look up Waterbury’s Set Rep Bible.

That should give you the input you’re looking for.

peace[/quote]

I started calculating density a couple of months ago and put it in tons per hour.

I’ve changed schemes once and come down with the flue twice, so no conclusions so far.

Maybe you ought to just follow a simple EDT plan.

–ElbowStrike

Try this:

reps * wt * distance

You’ll have to break it up into arm and leg movements since leg sets have more distance than arm sets. [Geek shit:This gives you the work (as in Physics) done.] If you measure your weight in kilos and your distance in meters then multiplying by

10/(time for the set)

gives you your power output in Watts. [More geek shit: crude conversion to Newtons.] When you change your workout, don’t drop below this unless you are planning it (“strategic deconditioning”).

The criticisms of using Math that have been voiced are right. The use of something like this is to let you eyeball what you are doing enough so you don’t forget something. Also, people cheat on distance the most when they get tired, so this keeps it a bit more honest.

jj
(who is a Mathematician. evil laughter)

The formula you’re looking for is:

S+M=H!

(Squats + Milk = Hyooooge!)

One workout I may feel great and extremely energized and the weight feels “light” but the next workout I feel a little more sluggish and not as strong. This is mostly due to diet fluctuations but there’s probably 100 other factors that can contribute so I think constant short-term progression is impossible but long term is where it’s at.

I try to constantly add weight each week or get an extra rep, when I stalemate then I change the exercises or the order in which I do them. I write down everything I do in the gym in a journal and that helps tremendously. I may get discouraged and stuck on a certain weight for 2-3 workouts but when I look back 3 months ago I realized I’ve gained 25 lbs on that lift and that’s big time motivation. My training program is molded after Dogcrap Training but modified. If you’re looking for obvious progression then do some reading on DC Training.

[quote]Nick Ortego wrote:
I don’t think anyone has been able to truly objectively quantify the effectiveness of a workout mathematically. Some people have tried. There is a book titled Power Factor Training, where the authors use a formula to calculate the “power factor” of each workout, and your goal is to increase your power factor each workout.[quote]

^ Old thread but still valid inquisition.

I’ve tried Power Factor Training and I can say that NO other system of training has added more weight to my squat and more muscle so quickly than PFT. I think just like every other system…Ur body adapts to it. I did learn that EXTREMELY infrequent w/outs are the way to contiued gains and prevention of overtraining.

I personally don’t see how any intelligent person could not see how PFT is more effective/safer than frequent full range rep w/outs which are less productive. As u get stronger u impose more & more demands on ur system to recover from which will take more & more time to recover from.

PFT exclusive use of partials have been proven (Univ of S. Miss.) to been just as if not more effective than full range reps. The EMG (growth stimulus) delivered w/ VERY heavy partials is much greater than lighter full range reps. All PFT is basically an organized way of effectively measuring ur performance from w/out to w/out. Can u udergo orthopedic surgery 3x a wk…? Of course not! A properly performed w/out can take as long as 6 wks to recover from (IF ur natural). I can tell U from experience its very satisfying to know 6 w/outs from now I’ll be larger/stronger by simply estimating a 20% increase in my PF or PI.

The only thing more effective than PFT is SCT (which almost impossible w/out a SCT machine). I think PFT’s only fault is that it challenges alot of things lifters hold dear and therefore is discarded as BS or ineffective. Again, I can tell U from experience when U finally learn how to correctly use steroids w/ PFT (it ain’t EZ) the sky is literally the limit.

Go to elitefts, the faq page, and scroll down until you come across Prilepin’s chart. I think that is the information your looking for.
its something like:
%1rm / total reps / rest

This is a very silly thing to even attempt. There are no mathematics to describe or control the progression of your bodys’ development. Even if you could describe yourself at some point in time, next month you will be different. Even if you could, why would it be useful?

I didn’t say I would be X “size” at X power factor. I said I can rest assured that w/ a 20% (?) increase in Power Factor and/or Power Index I will be cosiderable larger/stronger than I am now. Any machine which produces 20% more than it previously did is stronger (if it was operating at peak capacity at both points of measurement).

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
This is a very silly thing to even attempt. There are no mathematics to describe or control the progression of your bodys’ development. Even if you could describe yourself at some point in time, next month you will be different. Even if you could, why would it be useful?

[/quote]

By making the person using the equations feel really really smart?

I think people who approach things this way will never learn that biology isn’t that predictable. They will be toiling with specifics while ignoring variables they can’t control.

Either way, I have yet to see the huge bodybuilder who thought of their training like this excessively. There comes a point where you have to FEEL what is right and the calculator can’t give you that.

Ur right…in ur own way. PFT never claims u will be a certain size at a certain strength. All it is is an organized method for effectively measuring ur performance one w/out to the next.

I never said it the “end all be all” of traning. U can apply it full range reps (altho full range are nowhere near as effective as HEAVY partials. I don’t care about “feeling smart” I care about results…and PFT delivers them.

Often in these type discussion it results in either agreeing to differ in opinion or a petty internet argument. Heavy partials done very infrequently and scientifically measured progression always will be superior…regardless of the pursuit.