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[A.S. Prilepin] – Loading Parameters; a Soviet Secret

Hello Comrades!


If you want to be strong:

Know thy self …. and follow Prilepin’s principles


In the  former USSR there was a gentleman of the name Alexander Sergeyevitch Prilepin.

Although his athletes were highly decorated through the 70ies and 80ies, it is his practical contributions to weight lifting that will remain in the record books.

Prilepin gathered together a group of like minded scientists and Olympic reserve coaches to implemented a data collection program that would last his entire career.

The goal was to figure out Parameters for ‘limit’ and ‘near limit’ Loading.

The above self-titled chart demonstrates a culmination of this program and of Prilepin’s life’s work.

– in English (the source of this blog was translated from Russian) ‘limit’ and ‘near limit’ loading means at what rep range and at what rep max percentage can an athlete lift today, and be able to recover/adapt so that the athlete can also lift the next day, and the next day, and the next day….

– Taking into consideration that every body will react differently to the same stimulus = how much total load can any one athlete handle each day, so that they can still train the next.


A brief history of Russian Weight Lifting research is useful to understand the philosophy Prilepin’s chart was created in.


  • N.I. Shatov: To develop technique train with 5 – 6 sets of 2 – 3 repetitions per set with 80 – 85% of limit load.


  • V. M. Zatsiorsky, G. B. Chikvaidze, and D. Mateyev: Train with near maximum weights (individually determined load).
  • F. F. Bogdanovsky: Work up to 95 – 97%, after which the optimal near limit weight of 90% can be lifted easily for two repetitions (*tiered distribution).
  • Y. P. Vlasov: Work up to near limit weights within 6 – 9 sets of 1 – 2 repetitions per set = (3-4 warm-ups sets, 3 – 5 sets work sets).
  • A.S. Medvedyev: warned of the danger of  lifting weights in excess of 90% before competitions. Recommends no more than 13 lifts with 90% during the competition month.


  • A lot of research on artificial stimulant and anabolics.
  • V. I. Alexeyev: too much volume in near limit loading caused his athlete’s snatch speed to “lag”. He subsequently reduced the number of near limit lifts in the next phase and saw progress in all lifts, but less so in the snatch.
  • Prilepin began is data collection program, which continued into the 80ies
  • Most training was done around 87% – 94% with 5 sets of one lift each – Valentin Mikhailov would do 3 sets of 2 lifts per set with 85% –

“The use of large loading diminishes the sportsman’s speed which has a negative effect on the improvement in the tempo exercises… However…the lower speed of movement in the lifting of big weights can be indicative of an optimization of the technique of the competition exercises…with maximum force.” – L.N. Sokolov


  • A.S. Medvedyev proposed a yearly distribution of  volume (number of lifts) in the last three zones of intensity for each class of lifter – recommending a greater number of limit and near limit lifts for the lower classes than the higher ones.
  • However Medvedyev’s data contradicted studies by R.A. Roman and others, according to whom optimal training effect is attained with weights 90 – 100% of maximum.

In Comes Prilepin!

  • Prilepin resolves this conflict though a series of “natural pedagogical experiment(s)” with many lifters of varying classifications.
  • A.S. Medvedyev’s (1965) planned only 12 lifts of 90% for the whole month – where as Prilepin planned 50 – 60 lifts with 90% weights a month.
  • Approximately 25% of all lifts should be at 70–90% of maximum – 14% of those lifts with weights 90%+ .
  • Prilepin’s recommendation of using 70-90% for an optimum number of lifts was experimentally proven to be more effective than  *tiered distribution (increasing weights for 1 -3 lifts per set and an abrupt conculsion with the heaviest weight).

EX. 70% – optimal rage is 15 – 20

@  80% – optimal range is 15 – etc….

  • An optimum rep range was determined for each intensity.
  • A high intensity of loading is needed and the most effective lifts are with near limit weights.
  • The optimum number of sets/reps varies; on the exercise, workout, training phase and individual peculiarities..
  • A.S. Prilepin never overloaded an athlete and trained each of his athlete to reach(activate) their full potential.

Under Prilepin the soviet weight lifting team had its most successful years (1975-1985)



1)follow Prilepin’s parameters

2)understand your physical situation, you are not a master of high sport, so your annual training volume must be adjusted to your individual needs (i.e. get a really good coach)

Consider an expanded Prilepin chart wherein class mastery and annual training percentage is included. Such a chart would be useful for all.

the chart below outlines the breakdown of annual volume at each intensity level

Prilepin Class1:6-8000 reps/year Class 2: 7-9000 reps/year Class 3: 4-9000 reps/year
55-65% 70% total volume 4% total volume 4% total volume
70-80% 20% total volume 75% total volume 12% total volume
80-90% 9% total volume 14% total volume 70% total volume
90%+ 1% total volume 7% total volume 14% total volume

*the determining factors for class mastery are the amount of weight lifted in relation to the athletes height and weight

*a total volume was not indicated by Prilepin, the suggested volumes are from the 80/90ies.


Programming Training Intensity for Weightlifters