One of the advantages to having a coach who knows what they are doing is you should always be doing the right amount of work to solicit a training adaptation. Coaching is an artform and there are a lot of tools in the tool box for a good coach to use to better serve their athletes. But if you were to get your hand on one of these tools, would you be able to relieve your coach of their duties and save that hard earned cash you are spending on them? Let us see.
One of the favorite, basic tools of many coaches is Prilepin's Table. It was developed by A.S. Prilepin after studying countless olympic lifters' training journals. Through rigorous application of exercise science, Prilepin created a table that would allow a good coach to apply sets, reps, and intensities to athletes that would make them absolute freaks. This did come from Russia in the 70s when their Olympic weightlifting was on a whole different tier. Below is a picture of Prilepin's Table.
So let's break down what we are seeing. The far left column outlines the intensity of the lift. The second column is giving a range for how many reps you will have to do in a given set at the intensity to best solicit a response. Optimal total reps is the hypothetical optimal amount of total reps an athlete should do on a given movement in a workout. The far right column gives an acceptable range of total reps one could do for a given movement depending on multiple factors.
So now that you have this knowledge you can just plug and play right?! No unfortunately not. Each athlete is different. There is a reason that there are ranges on a majority of these data points in the table.
There are things in the micro that affect how you would program an athlete. What is their total fatigue? Where are they at in the training cycle? Are they dealing with any injuries? How are you feeling this day?
There are also macro factors that will change how a coach will program an athlete. What is the training age of the athlete? Is this a pre contest prep run up or is this an off season general physical preparedness oriented block? Are there weight changes being made to the athlete? Also, this one is big, is the athlete even an Olympic weightlifter?!
Although this table has application in multiple strength sports, the specificity of this tool is best used for Olympic weightlifting or pure power expression sports. You couldn't program bodybuilders or general health clients to the parameters in the above table.
I know. You thought this article was going to empower you into being more autonomous. You could be freed of the chains of the monthly cost of your coach and make the same or better progress. But if this disheartened you, just know that this is only one of so many different tools a good coach will use to help program athletes. A good coach is worth the money and if you are seeing progress with an individual hold on and ride that train out. Good coach's are worth their weight in gold and you never have to worry about 1970s Russian sports science ever again.