Most of our training sessions are based off percentages. For example, your deadlift session may require that you hit X number of reps at 80% of your one rep max. To fulfill the goal of your session, you have to hit X reps and X weight. But, what if weight isn't the only thing that matters?
It's easy to get caught up in having to hit your numbers. After all the program says so. I get it, you can feel defeated if you’re not able to finish the workout as it should be. Sometimes, that's just what you need to do. You can't expect your body to perform day in and day out, based on a program, even if it's developed specifically for you.
Never be afraid to take some weight off the bar, stop a set or two short, or even a few reps. You see, pushing past the limit of your capacity is great, and a necessary component of getting stronger and building tolerance. But it's also unchartered territory which means the risk of injury increases.
How do you know if it's just not your day? Bar speed. I mean, there’s a hundred other things that can give off red flags, but bar speed is something that you can monitor from rep to rep, and set to set. When the bar starts slowing down, this doesn't mean you need to call it quits. It does mean you need to pay close attention. If the bar moves slower and slower and you're not at the end of your lift, you might want to move on. If the bar is slow but you have one last set, take a break and finish it.
Why is bar speed so important? A recent study actually found that velocity-based training (VBT) was superior to percentage based training (PBT). They found that participants who performed VBT had or greater increase in:
-Back squat strength
-Bench press strength
-Overhead press strength
-Vertical jump height
ALL OF THIS DESPITE A LOWER TRAINING VOLUME. That means they had greater improvements with less work. This is because they focused on what their body was capable of doing ON THE DAY.
PBT is still a crucial element in developing strength and making gainz. Using percentages is a great way to progressively overload your body’s capacity, to ensure it adapts to the demands. Imagine only squatting 50% of your current one rep max. You’ll get really good at squatting 50% but you’re not going to increase your one rep max. PBT ensures that you do. VBT ensures that you make strength gainz with less work.