As athletes of Crossfit Stealth, you have the opportunity every 4 months to experience benchmark week(s). Two weeks of testing Crossfit HQ’s benchmark WODs and maxing out our lifts, and I don’t know about you, but I love to lift heavy, it’s my favorite thing. But, how do we get there? How do we set ourselves up for success in these lifts? One way to set yourself up for that new PR is to stick to the percentage work that’s programmed.
You might walk into the box and see one of the following:
Split Jerk (E2MOM)
Set 1-2 = 3 Reps @ 60-65%
Set 3-4 = 2 Reps @ 70-75%
Set 5-6 = 1 Rep @ 80-85%
Set 7-8 = 1 Rep @ 90-95%
*add 5lbs if possible
Deadlift (5x3 @ 80%)
*Add 5lbs if possible
Percentage based work provides structure to our training methods. It allows seeing the achievement and failures of a particular program and where adjustments are needed, instead of relying on how weight just “feels”. We, as lifters, are sucked into thinking that the only way to make progress is to constantly add weight (I’m guilty) to the bar, which is understandable since we are “stronger than yesterday”. We walk into the box thinking I feel great today, 85 feels like nothing, I’ll use 95. That first set feels good, form is good, but then sets two and three, you start to sacrifice that form to finish the set or start failing. This will lead to a setback, maybe not physically, but mentally, we all have been there.
However, what percentages allow us to do is focus on the movement, the form, and show us that it’s ok to back off. “Add 5lbs is possible” is there to reign it in, to check that ego and that we achieve success with every lift.
Another, way to look at why we use percentages is what they are doing during those lifts. Let us use our Deadlift 5x3 @ 80% as an example. When factoring our percentages, the first rep is the only one that truly represents our 80% of our 1RM, everything after represents the cumulative stress on the body, which leads to a greater demand for that 80%. This is according to strength coach Jess Irizarry of JDI Strength. Our body is an amazing thing, it can tell us when something feels as light as a feather or when it feels like a ton of bricks. And usually by the end of set one, it’ll let us know where we stand.
We aren’t doing crazy math at Stealth, we stick to simple rep schemes and percentages, whether 5x5 @ 70 or 75%, 5x3 @ 80 or 85% and even EMOMs for our OLY lifts with increasing percentages. The programs designed to hit a perfect set or lift every single time, or to understand where our bodies are physically during training. If it feels “too light” most likely, you were perfect. If it feels too heavy, then check that ego and drop the weight to make it perfect.
I can go on forever on this topic, but I hope this helps you understand why we use percentages. Is it fun to go heavy and max out, hell yeah, but what I’ve learned on my path of lifting, it feels a hell of a lot better to hit my 90% for 3 without struggle and I know if I can hit 90% with ease, then a PR is coming. Trust the Program, Check that ego. Here’s to the next benchmark week!
If you’re looking for more information on percentage work, T-nation.com has some fantastic articles and where I do a lot of my reading.