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Validity of Prelipin's Chart for Powerlifting?

I’ve been wondering lately about how valid Prelipin’s chart is for powerlifting. I know the thought of even posing this question might feel like heresy to some, but I’d appreciate some thoughtful insight from fellow muscle nerds that might address some of issues I have.


To begin, my understanding of Prelipin’s chart is that it is, effectively, a statistical summary of the training logs of somewhere on the order of 1000 competitive weightlifters (“weightlifters” being those that compete in the sport of weightlifting i.e. snatch and clean/jerk). With this data, the average number of reps and (I assume) standard deviation are calculated for each intensity range. Also, this is for a single day, not for an entire week. Also, this is for competition movements (snatch and clean/jerk), not necessarily for assistance exercises. If there is anything incorrect/missing in my understanding of the origin of Prelipin’s chart, please comment.

So the way I have seen people try using Prelipin’s chart for powerlifting is something along these lines. If on a squat workout you need to work with 75% of your max, that means you need to do 12-24 total reps of 75% broken up into sets of 3-6 reps. That’s it for the day, and in some cases the week for squats. Copy and past this same concept into bench and deadlifts.

Considering my understanding of Prelipin’s chart and my understanding of the typical powerlifting approach to using it, let’s consider the issues I have.

First off, the big 90% elephant in the room… someone please show me a moderately experienced powerlifter that can make hit 10 total reps of squats at +90% in a single session. MAYBE a lightweight guy that is fresh and rested, but remember the chart is supposed to represent average values across weight classes and throughout the course of regular training.

In a similar vein, Let’s consider bench pressing in the 70-80% range. If a guy has a 425 lb bench, 75% is around 315. Like the 10 reps at +90%, someone please show me a guy who can increase his 425 lb bench by doing 3-4 sets of 5 at 315 lbs once or twice a week. Point being, I feel like the optimal reps for each intensity ranges are dramatically low for all but maybe those at the far high end of the absolute strength spectrum.

On the other hand, Let’s take a guy who squats 700 lbs. You’re going to tell me that he should be able to hit 630+ lbs in a training session, two or three times a week for weeks on end and now fall apart?

Next, consider the differences between weightlifting movements (snatch and clean/jerk) and powerlifting movements (squat, bench, and deadlift). The weightlifting movements are concentric only and very fast-twitch oriented. On the other hand, powerlifting movements are mostly eccentric+concentric and comparatively slower movements. In other words, it’s like comparing hitting a bulls eye on a dart board with throwing a baseball from home to left field.

That said, my perspective is that at best, applying Prelipin’s chart for powerlifting is not useful and at worst, it is misleading and harmful. My question, then, is what is everyone else’s experiences and opinions with using this chart/system/religion?

One of the biggest things I think to making Prilipins Chart working for powerlifting is to one base your lifts of a technical max and not a true all out max. Then with that being said every lift in my opinion should be treated like it 100% of your max. If its 60% on the bar you treat it like it is 105% of your max. Every rep perfect and every rep performed as explosively as possible.

As many know who have followed me I am huge advocate and student of CAT work developed by Fred Hatfield “Dr Squat” who developed the principles largely based around Prilipins Chart, and Sam Byrd and Andy Bolton who have continued on with his methods to put up some of the biggest lifts in powerlifting history. As for your example to the benching 3-5 sets of 5-6 reps with 70% probably isnt going to produce much results if the movement is performed very lazily just going through the motion. But attacking thay 70% with the same aggression and intent you would a new PR on the platform you all of a sudden are discussing a entirely new training effect.

So in short if you want Prilipins Table to work very well for Powerlifting you need to approach powerlifting in a way that is much faster. Speed and technique become the focus on and should be the focus. I have manaher to squat 800 raw with wraps, total 1800 plus at 225 which I get isnt amazing but its atleast enough to bring up in my arguement, squat over 1000 at 217 multiply hardly EVER going over 70% of my max and the very large majority of that training is using less than 4 plates on my squats. Then once im 6 weeks out ill slowly start at 72% then ramp up 76%, 80%, 83%, 87% then end around 90% for 2x2 and then its a deload week and go into the meet. Every rep treated like its my goal for the platform.

Lastly to your example or squatting 3 or 4x a week snd not breaking down 1. Squatting 3 or 4x a week at 90% is just stupid in my opinion however it is hugely individual. I have hit my biggest squats on 1 squat session a week. Obviously many can do more and some huge squatters have had to push it back to 1 session every 10 days and some such as Stan Efferding had to pull it back to once every 14 days. So that factor is hugely individual.


Prilepin’s chart and more details on it are in an old Soviet book on weightlifting, I forget the name of it but last I heard you can buy it from EliteFTS. People have all sorts of stories on it so it’s hard to say what the actual truth is without reading that book, but from what I understand it’s about the number of lifts per training session and these were lifters living in training camps, not some guy with a job and other responsibilities. Doing two sessions with the same lift in one day is a common Russian thing (see any Sheiko program). Also squats are a staple exercise for weightlifting (obviously) but whether or not they applied this chart to their squat training is another story. Prilepin certainly didn’t intend for his chart to be used by powerlifters.

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How about the Chad Wesley Smith Chart/s. Doesn’t have the same ring to it lol

You briefly touched on it, but I think it’s the major reason why that Prilepin’s Chart isn’t something one should rely on for PLing but rather keep in the back of their mind when planning training is the lack of the eccentric in WLing, and that drastically changes things especially as one works up with intensity. We know that the eccentric portion of the lift is the most damaging part of the lift, so not having that is a huge factor in the total.

People will say that Prilepin factored squats and presses into his chart, and while that is correct, it’s also doesn’t account for that they also rarely maxed out on squat and almost never on a press, so the relative number of squats and presses really never correlated to the exact intensity of that lift since it was based on either a Clean or Snatch number. Another thing to consider with regards to squats was that most of the lifters who’ve interviewed that trained during that era have said that there really wasn’t any set structure to the squat and pull training and that that they just added 10Kg-20Kg more than their Snatch or Clean lifts for that day and just did 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps right after.

Another issue to factor in was that Prilepin didn’t factor the auxiliary lifts into his volume/tonnage totals per month. I say this because some of the exercise that most closely resemble powerlifts likely were left off the count or if they were in the count, their relative volume was very low and it’s hard to really draw a comparison for actual total reps relative to the powerlifts since they were considered auxiliary and not primary lifts.

Drugs were also just considered part of the daily routine and were simply referred to as “restoratives.” This is important because we know that “restoratives” allow the lifter to handle much more volume and tonnage than one not on any. People will chime in that Prilepin used this chart with youth lifters, and that is true, but we also don’t know if this exact chart was used with them or not, all we know is the finished product, and we know that Prilepin added volume to the 90%+ range when he was working with their highest class of lifters.

Lastly, people say that Westside is proof that the chart works, and while I would agree with that to an extent, Louie also has “adjusted” the numbers as well. For example, only 3 max lifts per upper and lower body total per day, and that total equals 6 which is close to optimal total per week, but not exactly how Prilepin counted monthly reps. Also, speed work isn’t straight weight, it’s 45%-55% plus contrast from band and chains, so the training number really isn’t the same.

Bottom line, while I think it’s a pretty good chart and may work in some instances, it nothing more than a guide to keep in the back of your mind than anything else.

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I’m using Chad’s principles for my next cycle. Makes a lot of sense and he’s got a some great in-depth videos available.

Same I have had some issues with self programming. And also never thought cookie cutter programs were great for me. I kinda stumbled into chads stuff and the amount of info they have out for free on the web is amazing. You can completely customize your own programming in a scientific way based on their tools.

And he doesn’t say that MRV is the end all God’s truth took but says you can probably find your exact MRV in 8-12 weeks using that tool vs guessing for 1-2 years without it.

Interesting how MRV is like theoretically changing a bit at any given time depending on lots of factors. A ball park range if nice but I think it’d be cool if jts came out with a comprehensive vid on assessing where you are at relative to MRV too e.g. performance indicators, fatigue ratings etc.

Have you seen their programming series? All these things are taken into consideration. Their ai programming also has fatigue rating. So if you feel like crap that day and can’t finish the work you rate fatigue higher and it lowers your loads and if you rate it 5/5 it removes a set from the day.

My point is clearly with this they have protocols for variances in outside stresses that effect recovery daily and not just a blanket statement that you can handle 12 overload sets a week of squats everyday.

It’s pretty simple, once performance starts to drop (and not just on the odd bad day) then you are over MRV. You don’t want to overreach until the end of the block, if at all. It’s better to train below MRV than too much over because results won’t be worse and going over means unproductive training sessions and extra work with no benefit.

It’s not 100% accurate, it’s a ballpark figure as @guineapig said and that’s the best you can do. People have tried stuff like HRV (heart rate variability) but that is not any better.

Yeah I agree on that. It’s a ball park which is still a nice tool vs “well I’m gonna do 20 working sets this week and see how I feel on deads.” You know already that’s a stupid idea.

IIRC I watched one Mike Tuchscherer vid where he talked about the reasoning he uses for how recovered he athletes are.

Like think a 3x3 table. One axis is fatigue ratings or that TRAC thing he uses and one the other is like performance/gains. So for each lift you’d match up it up and see if stuff is in a good place. Like on bench if you’re making gains at a moderate fatigue level that gets a tick. If making gains but fatigue is low than maybe more volume can be added and so on.

I think at different points in the training process there’s different targets maybe like a high stress training week but it’s still the process

Hope I explained that alright lol

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In this series of videos Josh Bryant is training Johnnie Jackson in the deadlift. Their scheme kinda follows the chart for the CAT deadlifts, but they are Way more conservative with the number of heavy lifts.

In most of Bryant’s cookie cutter programs from his books there are a few more heavy lifts per week, but still not as many as on Priliprin’s chart.

I don’t think that Josh Bryant follows Prilepin’s chart at all. His typical setup is a heavy top set and CAT work for volume right after, but total volume depends on the goal (hypertrophy=more volume) and the lifter since some people do better with less and some need more.

I guess it could just be a coincidence that Johnnie does six sets of three, 18 reps at 70% and that those numbers are shown as optimal on other dudes’ chart.

If Bryant wasn’t using the chart, and just happened to use similar numbers based on his own experience with the power lifts, it would make me More likely to believe in the chart.

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He sometimes programs stuff that is completely off the chart like 10 sets of 3-5 reps with 65-70%, hard to say he follows the chart. He has other people doing very low volume as well.

Prilepin’s chart isn’t “wrong”, it just isn’t the end-all-be-all of training.

You should read the book “Managing the Training of Weightlifters”, that is the book in which Prilepin’s chart was originally published and it would give a better explanation and context for how the chart is to be used. You can buy it at EliteFTS.

The problem with making blanket recommendations for intensity and volume is that not everyone can do the same number of reps with the same weight. Fred Hatfield did some experiments with people doing max reps with 80% and the range was something like 3-20 reps. The same workout that one guy who is more slow twitch dominant gets through easily would kill a bigger, stronger, fast twitch dominant lifter.

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I have many leather bound books.

If I told you what was in there, you’d say I made it up.

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So you have this book? If so, then maybe you should tell us what it says about the chart because otherwise all he have is hearsay and misinterpretations.

Does your home smell
Like rich mahogany?

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