Preparation Progression Sets

Updated: May 22

Lifting big weights correctly takes a lot of time, energy, progress, and technique. The process is tedious and you must be diligent in your daily preparation. When it is time to attack a big lift, your confidence will be enhanced by your preparation. How do we get you mentally and physically prepared?

Simple, 1st we introduce you to the Pre Activity Preparation Program, then we prescribe you a specific load and rep range to properly prep you technically, mentally, and neurologically for the first major work set of the session. These “Preparation Progression Sets” (PPS) allows the body to gradually prepare for the increased load of the working sets with minimal fatigue. This process was adapted from an article I reviewed in the late 90’s, early 2000’s by Strength Legend, Coach Mark Philippi. The PPS are based of the 1st working set of the priority movement of the session. It is generally a 4-set approach, and the rep schemes are conducive to preparing the athlete for the working demands of the session without the onset of too much accumulating fatigue.

Example A: Utilizing our base formula to determine the training loads off of the 1st working set. Athlete A – Squat MAX – 500 Work Sets for Session 5x3 80% = 400 Training Plan Preparation Progression Sets 50% of 400 = 200 x 5-8 repetitions 65% of 400 = 260 x 3-5 80% of 400 = 320 x 2-3 90% of 400 = 360 x 1-3 Working Sets 80% of 500 = 400 5x3


Example B: In this example, we took the base formula percentage rules and applied them to the specific percentage of the 1st Work Set and these loads are determined from the athlete’s training max. Athlete A – Squat MAX – 500 Work Sets for Session 5x3 80% = 400 Training Plan Preparation Progression Sets 40% of 500 = 200 x 5-8 repetitions 52% of 500 = 260 x 3-5 64% of 500 = 320 x 2-3 72% of 500 = 360 x 1-3 Working Sets 80% of 500 = 400 5x3


The repetition range can be specifically prescribed or you can allow the athlete to determine the amount of work he/she needs to properly prepare. Based on my experience, I have prescribed the reps for the athletes. I utilize the 5,3,2,1 scheme for lower body movements and the 8,5,3,3 for upper body movements with the last PPS as a 2-rep set.

When using the PPS for Olympic Variations, I have found a smaller jump between the last two PPS to be more beneficial to the athlete. Bigger jumps in the Olympic Variations tends to lead to less optimal efficiency in preparing for the top set. I always use the 5,3,2,1 rep pattern for the total body movements. There are times I will use this progression for athletes with big squat numbers also, as well as add an additional PPS to the front end.

As a bonus to this week’s blog and 60 Second Strength Coach, we will be hosting an Instagram Live Discussion on Preparation Progression Sets on Thursday, May 14th at 3pm EST on the Dynamic Fitness and Strength Instagram Page. During this 30-minute program, we will go over Preparation Progression Sets Set Up.

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