I have the most difficult time explaining why I only do 3 reps and multiple sets to develop speed and strength. I constantly review video clips of athletes performing high reps with heavy weight only to watch their final reps (bar speed) slow and power decrease. This is simply not the way to build intensity, and development of speed and strength.

Think of high reps with heavy weight as progressive overload (coach wants you to build muscle and lift heavy and high reps), as the weights grow heavier, the force factor comes into play. Slowly but surely, you lose that all-important factor – velocity.

By training with submaximal weights, with maximal velocity, and by rotating exercises that closely resemble the squat, bench and deadlift on other days, you can stay within the boundaries of the force-velocity curve.

Alexander Sergeyevitch Prilepin was the head coach of the USSR’s national junior Olympic Weightlifting team from 1975 – 1980

A. S. Prilepin suggested that to achieve the proper intensity, one should use the rep/set scheme shown in the table, to ensure the greatest development of speed and strength. He discovered that if 7 or more reps were performed at 70%, the bar speed slowed and power decreased. The same holds true when using 80% or 90%; once one goes above the rep range shown, the bar slows, which translates to less power. Doing fewer or more lifts than Prilepin suggests will cause a decrease in training effect.

Number of Reps for Percent Training

Percent Reps Per Set Optimal Total Range
55-65 3-6 24 18-30
70-75 3-6 18 12-24
80-85 2-4 15 10-20
90+ 1-2 7 4-10

In Russia , much research revealed that 65-82.5% of a 1 rep max is best to build strength in the squat. They suggest 2-6 reps per set. Imagine applying this concept to all three lifts as we do in training!

The velocity-force curve shows that weights can actually move too fast (weights below 65%) or too slow (weights above 82.5) . By staying within this percent range, we are continuously working with poundage’s that provide both adequate velocity and force to produce record-breaking numbers.

The key is to maintain max force and velocity simultaneously.


Percent Training: What is it really?, 2001, Louie Simmmons
HIT……. or Miss?, 2001, Louie simmons