Matt and Scott return to the MED toolbox to discuss the importance of PR's in measuring the success of a program. Of course, PR's are inherent in the novice linear progression, during which the athlete hits PR's for 3x5 every workout, or every other workout as an advanced novice.
The PR then becomes a weekly occurrence for the early intermediate, then perhaps biweekly for the mid-intermediate. Texas Method, for instance, calls for a 1x5 PR each week on "intensity day." For athletes more advanced than this, where we begin to enter theoretical programming territory (because, as we have discussed ad nauseam, most people, even athletes, do not advanced beyond this stage), the PR is typically discussed in terms of a 1RM. At some level, this makes sense, as advanced strength athletes are, by definition, competing in strength sports where the 1RM is tested.
An advanced athlete may train in a 6,8, or even 12-week blocks to obtain a 1RM PR. However, this does NOT mean that she does not also hit 3RM, 5RM, or sets-across PR's during the training block. Matt believes this is a crucial and overlooked point when discussing programming, particularly the use of volume. Many of his advanced lifters hit a number of PR's during their training cycles besides the 1RM. The implication is that, when programming, the focus should be on the PR itself, rather than adding sets. In other words, the number of sets shouldn't be the goal, the PR for a given rep range or number of sets should be the goal.
Therefore, coaches should only prescribe as much volume as needed to continue driving PR's for the rep ranges being trained during the cycle. For strength athletes, the 1RM remains the gold standard for measuring success, but it does not diminish the importance of other PR's.
Most importantly, focusing on the PR when programming ensures that we are using quantifiable data to determine whether the athlete is getting stronger, instead of subjective measures such as RPE.
Got a question for Matt and Scott? Email us at email@example.com and we'll answer your question on an upcoming Saturday Q&A!
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