Prilepin's Table for Maximal Strength Gains

by: Team Vpx Sports

Alexander Sergeyevitch Prilepin was the head coach of the USSR's national junior Olympic Weightlifting team from 1975 – 1980 and head coach of the national senior team from 1980 – 1985. At the junior level they earned 24 gold, 19 silver and 4 bronze medals, while their efforts at the senior level netted them and 20 gold, 15 silver and 3 bronze medals (with multiple medals in the Olympics). During this time 27 world records were set by Prilepin's athletes.

Besides training world champion athletes, Mr. Prilepin trained a dozen lifters who would go on to become world class coaches in their own right.
And although he is typically regarded as one of the best Olympic coaches of all time, he ought to be known as one of the premier sports scientists as well. Prior to his involvement, the upper echelon of Russian coaching was dominated by the idea that there was intrinsic danger in lifting weights in excess of 90% 1RM (notably too close to competition). Additionally, training volume for working in this percentile (*for the snatch) was set at no more than 13 lifts/month with the aforementioned weights.

However, it was previously observed that the greatest training adaptations are realized with 90 – 100% 1RM weights in advanced athletes. It is through the resolution of these seemingly contradictory facts that Prilepin made his greatest contribution to strength programming for everyone from the recreational athlete to the professional strength coach.

Through an intensive and laborious effort in meta-analyzing the diaries of thousands of Soviet sportsmen, he not only validated training with 90%+ weights, but he also managed to establish a logical foundation for a much higher volume of sets.  

The resulting intersection of sets, reps, and intensity (expressed as the % of maximal weight) is now known as Prilepin's Table - and it gives you the precise areas that have been shown to maximize strength gains in a given lift (naturally he focused on the snatch and clean & jerk). If you're training for maximal strength on a 5 x 5 program or some kind of modified bodybuilding hybrid program (perhaps pyramiding down from 12 to 3 reps), perhaps it's time to give Prilepin's set and rep scheme a shot.

Remember - it produced 27 worlds records.