Programming with Percentages

Why We Don’t Program with Percentages

If you come from an Olympic Weightlifting or CrossFit background, you may be used to training in a program with percentages. What do we mean by this?

For example:
5 sets x 5 reps
@ 80% of your 1 Rep Max

While this is one way to skin the cat, we actually prefer a different approach with our workouts at Paragon Training Methods.

The Why

One of the most common questions we get at Paragon is why we *don’t* program using percentages.

Depending on where you work out, and/or who you follow in the fitness industry, we sometimes see a somewhat toxic mindset encouragement that you:

*need to leave yourself on the floor and gasping for breath after workouts
*that you didn’t go hard enough if you’re not lying in a pile of sweat
*that # norestdays is an admirable badge of honor

And well… it doesn’t have to be that way (and you likely don’t want it to).

Working out in those manners isn’t necessarily a good recipe for effectively achieving the goals you may have, long-term success, or having a healthy relationship with food, the gym, and your body.

One of the things we quickly became known for when we founded Paragon in 2018 was providing workouts that really did let people have it all: look great, feel great, perform great, get healthier, see progress and hit new PRs, have fun – and most importantly, helping our members all around the globe find freedom and peace in the mind in the way they were eating, exercising, and living life.

And we do that by not using generic percentages in our programming. And by always going above and beyond to educate and teach our members how to get stronger, happier, and healthier (without all the unnecessary mental gymnastics).

We find our approach more flexible, and more accommodating for real day-to-day life (where you may be hungover or forgot to eat before the gym), and overall more empowering for someone to adjust based on how they feel.

Downsides of Percentage Work

The programming challenge = percentage work ideally should be programmed based on a person’s individual needs.

Individual differences might include…

  • gender
  • muscle fiber makeup (fast vs slow twitch)
  • anatomic build, mobility, and flexibility
  • training age and lifting proficiency
  • training history and background

These factors make it difficult to create a one-size-fits-all percentage-based program.

But more importantly, using these generically prescribed percentages can lead to two things: suboptimal results and potential risk of injury.

Finally, using percentage work doesn’t allow us to estimate individual preparedness.

Think about all the factors that can affect your training performance on any given day:

  • sleep
  • stress
  • previous training day soreness
  • time of training session
  • alcohol intake
  • your menstrual cycle
  • you much you have or have not eaten

Percentage work won’t account for these. You’re basically just forcing your body to do the work because a spreadsheet told you so.

Using Reps From Failure

Reps from failure is a way of helping people understand how hard they should be working

We don’t want to regularly train to failure or at 100% intensity, and the weights we choose can greatly impact the stimulus we receive and our ability to perform various rep ranges.

Example: 3 sets x 8-12 reps (~ 2-3 RFF)

Reps from failure = how many reps you have “left in the tank” once you finish a set

With RFF, we’re asking: “If someone had a water gun pointed at me, how many more reps could I possibly squeak out?”

Unlike percentage work, RFF doesn’t require you to know your current 1-rep max for a lift. You’re going by “feel” and how hard you’re working that day to lift a weight.

In our workouts, you’ll always see a few warm-up sets prior to the heavy work sets.

This serves a few purposes: to not injure yourself, to help you prepare to lift heavy and to help you figure out what weight to use for your challenging work sets.

3 sets x 8-12 reps (~ 2-3 RFF) = a weight you lift for 8-12 reps
(but could *actually* lift for 10-15 reps)

Using RFF allows people to train smarter, listen to their bodies, and make adjustments in workout efforts accordingly.

Ready to Join the Party?

At Paragon, helping people live stronger, happier, and healthier is what we do best.

With our workouts, you CAN have it all:

  • have fun
  • look and feel great
  • improve your health
  • get strong, age well
  • see progress and new PRs

… all in just 30, 45, or 60 minutes per day.

How It Works:

1. Pick your bundle: Full Gym, Home Gym, DB Only
2. Pick your program: based on how many days and how long you want to workout
3. Get to lifting/loving life: and look great doing it!

Click here to find the right option for you!

LCK and Bryan from Paragon Training Methods

Paragon's Story

“They say the best companies from solving a problem. Paragon Training Methods started w/ solving mine.”

– Paragon Founder, LCK 

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