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?