Prilepin Chart and How To Design Your Own Powerlifting Program

For anyone who doesn’t know of A.S. Prilepin, I will save you the trouble and tell you that he watched the most successful lifters in the most successful country (Russia) and made a few determinations about their training. His observations, while simple are how PL programming is created even today. His observations are in the chart below–assuming posting this doesn’t monkey it up beyond repair.




What is it?
It is a chart that determines the number of sets and reps that are to be used in training high level athletes. There is a reason that it is still used all of these many years later. It is the foundation for most successful training systems in use today–including westside. It includes a training zone and it’s corresponding rep ranges and what is considered optimal.
Who will benefit from this information?
I hesitate to say everyone. I know that everyone doesn’t want to know what goes into their training–and they for damn sure don’t want to do it themselves. That used to be me–“put it on the bar coach, you’re the thinker, I’m the lifter.” I eventually took control of my own program design–but my coach still bitches anyway. But, intermediate to advanced lifters will benefit from knowing how to use this table seamlessly. But because I am a pompous ass, I am including novice lifters anyway.
How is it used?
For example, If I am working at 90%, I consult the chart and it will tell me that I need a reps per set of 1-2 and that I should optimally perform 7 meaningful reps. However, there is a range of 4-10, which is to accommodate for your training max (if you feel like shit and cant keep going) and your 1RM (if you feel like a freight train). It is pretty simple.
General Users:
This is the simplest method of using the table. You will have a day where you operate in a single intensity zone and you will not vary from it in such a way that would alter your set or rep range. You will make up for not having multiple intensity zones by lifting over more days–i.e. You will squat 2-3 days per week.
Example Plan:
Monday 90-100+% 1RM
Reps per set: 1-2
Optimal reps: 7
Rep range: 4-10
Execution: Don’t be a dumbass and not warm up. But don’t warm up in such a way to compromise your attempts on your 1RM. Higher rep warm-ups should be at low percentages, and higher percentage warm-ups should be made as singles–if possible. Be reasonable, and know when you are ready to go.
Thursday 55-70% 1RM
Reps per set: 3-6
Optimal reps: 24
Rep range: 18-30
Execution: Warm-up and follow the plan.
Intermediate Lifters: The Prilepin Number of Lifts Score
Now for the math squeamish, this may seem horrifying. But little know fact: Most PLers are mathematicians—just ****ing with you…most people hate math. But for the purposes of planning a training cycle, it is important–hear me out.
PNLS = Number Of Performed Lifts in Zone/Upper Total Limit
So if I did 10 lifts in the 90% range, I would have a PNLS score of 10 (number of lifts I did) /10(number from the chart) =1. Now keep in mind that this score is representative of that one lift and it does NOT encompass your accessory work. So you can see that an optimal PNLS score would be .7 or so.
Problem: Nobody works in a single intensity zone, you know-nothing bastar….ok ok.
Solution: Basic phone calculator with the same formula should square you away.
Example: If you did 10 reps at 55-70%, 5 reps at 70-79%, and 3 reps at 90+% you will have 10 (what you did)/30 (max reps from chart), 5/24, 3/10. Restating–10/30 (.3) +5/24 (.21) +3/10 (.3) = .3+.21+.3= .81 PNLS or a pretty good day–and a really damn good example seeing as how I guessed at it.
Problem: I can get the same PNLS by doing the different percentages with the same reps as long as I am in the same intensity zone.
Solution: Stop being a loop-hole seeking dickhead. Don’t you want to be better? Jk….I mean you are a dick, but the loop-hole is about to close: A slight modification to the formula that rewards precision. The Intensity and Number of Lifts (INOL) formula. It is defined like this: Number of Lifts(NOL) at a given intensity/100 – intensity.
Restated: INOL = Number of lifts at your chosen percentage / 100 – (your intensity).
Example: Bench 2×6 @ 60% and 3×5 @ 75% = 2×6/(100-60) + 3×5/(100-75)= .3 + .6= .9
Problem: 2×6 @60% is the same thing as 6×2@60%. Well, the more fragmented your INOL is, less fatigue was incurred per each set. So have a defined purpose when you design the program. Did you want the sets to be low rep and light for a DE day? If so, one way is more optimal than the other.
Guidelines for Using INOL
Weekly INOL Guidelines:
<2 easy
2-3 tough
3-4 Unsustainable
>4 Overtraining
Single Workout INOL of a single exercise:
<0.4 Do you even lift???
0.4-1 Good
1-2 Difficult
>2 Assault and battery on yourself.
The mathematical scores for the Prilepin tables are the ideas of a guy named Hristov. Smart guy that was looking for a definitive method to utilize the table. These are his ideas and not Prilepin’s. It is also of note that Hristov didn’t come out with his ideas until the last decade, so clearly you can use the table without the formulas.
I don’t want to do any of the stupid mathematics, I just want to lift….so what?
No problem, but keep in mind that thousands of people either developed the table with their success (that is why they were selected and studied by Prilepin) or have been successful because of that table. The table should be regarded highly. The numbers you can take or leave. I just have always thought they were neat.
Did I use them? Yes. At one time my programming was solely based on the Prilepin table and Hristov’s data interpretation. Now, my loading has moved into my own formula based on my performance.
Now I hope you hated this boring garbage as much as I hated digging up the email from the bastard (that owes me money) that sent it to me.
Source: Unknown but I didn’t write it.