It's a concept more than a method. Since there is no universal way to go about it for all trainees it would be difficult to explain it in number examples. However, all it really entails is building up work tolerance to these certain weight ranges.
I think I was explaining this before in another thread but I don't remember where. I'll try to expand on it here with specific example/analogies but without trying to give a routine with numbers.
Ashiem mentioned percentage based routines and said that I/We generally do not like them. Why? The reason is that percentage based routines are based on a few assumptions that are only very occasionally valid. Keep in mind that all of this is in terms of training for "maximal strength."
1. They are based on the assumption that intensity is the variable that must be regulated and manipulated in training for maximal strength. In other words, they assume that if a trainee lifts at a certain intensity for a workout or a cycle, then the only way progress is to spend a certain amount of time training at a lower intensity and then building up to the previous intensity.
2. They are based on a one rep maximum that may no longer be a valid indicator of how a trainee should be training at any given time. That is, a trainee lifts a weight at one time that is at that time his one rep maximum. He then proceeds to base a month or more of training based on that one lift even though at any one time his ability may exceed that; or fall under that. So while he thinks he is training at a certain intensity based on his one rep max, he may actually be training well under that or well over that.
The other side of this is that intensity is rarely the variable that needs to be manipulated the most. Volume is.
Now, the "truth" is, fitness fluctuates within a mean. What does that mean in a nutshell? Well, I explain it in a previous newsletter under regression to the mean where I also talk about deloading and questions related to that:
Say your best squat is 350 pounds. Now say you go in expecting to hit a relative max of 350 to 355 (if it's a good day). But you can only manage 340. You don't need to run around in circles hollering "I'm ten pounds off!".
You know what ten pounds is to 350 pounds? About 3 percent. While that ten pounds from 340 to 350 can be very hard to come by, a performance fluctuation of 3 percent is no big deal. And it is to be expected. One of the reasons we do singles the way we do at GUS is to be in check with the simple reality that performance will fluctuate slightly without a great underlying change in general recovery and fitness. So, no you don't need a deload because you squatted 340 instead of 350 today.
Okay, so let's say you cannot get past that 350 pound mark. Which is a very good squat btw! But let's say you've never lifted heavier than that. Most trainees will say to me, "Eric, I'm stuck at 350 on my squat." In fact, that or something like it is the beginning of most emails or pms to me, lol.
If I ask you how many times you've lifted 350 then usually the answer will be once! So what is 350 really? Are you really "stuck" at 350? No, you are not stuck at 350 because you have not yet established 350 as any kind of benchmark. In reality you are stuck at a weight range anywhere from 335 to 350 and your ability fluctuates within some tight range therein. When you lifted the 350 and called it your 1RM but never did it again you are making a big deal out of a fluctuation in performance that could not be reliably repeated. Likewise, when you get upset about your inability to repeat it you are thinking that you have "regressed". Yet, you did not actually establish a new baseline of performance in the first place so your inability to repeat it cannot yet be considered a regression but only a fluctuation. If you regularly hit 340 on your squat you could realize that you had a "fluctuation" of 3 percent off a more reliable benchmark of 340.
Now, this does not mean that you shouldn't celebrate those accomplishments! That is what we train for. But being happy about something is not exactly the same thing as basing your training around it.
Knowing that 340 may be a more reliable benchmark, does this mean you should do a percentage routine based off of 340 as your 1RM? No. Because, once again, fitness fluctuates! We want to lift as heavy as possible at any given time and be able to sustain this without injury, etc.
After reading all of this, I realize that a lot of strength training guru types would respond with the "slow clap." Sure, Eric, sounds very conceptual and quite sciency but it doesn't help me get stronger.
Yes it does! It definitely does. If you think about it in the right context. If you are not stuck at 350 and you cannot really reliably base a whole cycle of training off of one benchmark, why can't you get past 350 then? The answer is at the beginning where I said that your strength fluctuates within a range of ability. So…it's that range of ability you have to become "unstuck" at.
Becoming unstuck at our hypothetical range of 335 to 350 (give or take) entails building a greater work tolerance to this load range. I go into that in this post about endurance versus work tolerance and manipulating rest periods.