In part one of this series, I defined what Science is (a method, and more importantly, a modality of human existence) and how technology is higher in the ontological hierarchy than science. I described how technoscience forms a creative feedback loop and how this never-ending “going beyond itself” essence of technoscience is the driving force behind all creativity and achievement.
In part two, I detailed how the Olympic barbell was the technology that gave rise to the entire field of physical training science and how data storage/analytical technology developments drove this evolution forward to a complete theoretical science by the late 20th century.
We looked at how Prilpen’s chart was the period’s essential intellectual product for direct applicability to athletes’ training processes. It became the bedrock for training programming in weightlifting, powerlifting, and strength preparation for athletes in all sports.
To continue the tale of an emergent science, we’ll start by placing the StratFit DNA under the microscope once again.
Our mission's first and most essential point is “to bring theoretical training science into the applied realm.”
As I detailed in parts 1 and 2; the purpose of a science
or “Science” with a capital S is not to create a mirror of nature by postulating supposed prior objective facts; it is instead to create an enframed and filtered window with which to view a part of nature more clearly. This process of enframing and filtering provides us with greater control and utility over nature. It is mythically symbolized by Atlas
placing a grid over the entire earth and bearing it on his titanic shoulders. The Atlantean burden embodies our collective destiny to enframe nature for ceaseless creativity and achievement in an eternally dynamic cosmos.
The fact that one of the main events/pieces of equipment of Strongman competition is called the "Atlas Stone(s)" further shows the genealogical connection between the Titanic/Olympian pantheon and modern strength sports. I established this deep symbolic connection in the second installment of this series, using the examples of Kratos as the forefather of Weightlifting and Powerlifting and the title "Mr. and Ms. Olympia" for the world's preeminent Bodybuilding contest. These synchronicities show an essential connection between the primordial divinities of creativity and modern athletics.
When we attempt to enframe a part of nature, the first significant step is to lay a conceptual grid over the phenomena as Atlas did. This activity first occurs on the abstract plane in the creator's imagination. The distance between the imaginary grid lines becomes equidistant and numerically defined through experimentation and mathematical procedure. When the conceptual grid is standardized, it facilitates the discovery and measurement of previously unknown “entities” or variables and their relationships within the phenomenal window. The standardization of the entire metric system of measurement in the mid-20th century is especially exemplary in this regard.
For the StratFit System of Applied Science, the foundational new "entity" or value is the “Internal Training Load.
” The internal training Load refers to the level of stress an athlete experiences internally in all their subsystems from a training unit (set, activity, session, day, microcycle…). “Load” is a more training-specific term for stress.
The internal load is the supreme value of the training process. All other variables are elements of it (intensity, amount) or are determined or affected by it (recovery time, level of adaptation
, dietary requirements, etc.). It is the foundational value we need to know to accurately prescribe training and predict its short- and long-term outcomes.
Conceptually speaking, “loading” is not new; experts have referred to training stress as loading for many decades; this was part of the complete field of theoretical knowledge from the late 20th century, detailed in part two of this series. However, the concept has remained chiefly in the realm of theory. At StratFit, our mission required the creation of a rigorous and empirical mathematical system to calculate and actualize the load.
A Singular Prilepin Value: Hristo Hristov’s INOL
Prilepin’s Chart is the point of departure for understanding the stress effect of training. Prilepin defined the minimal, optimal, and maximal amounts of reps for the various intensity ranges that would ensure a training effect from a session and prevent overtraining. For this task, he analyzed the training logs and competition results from the whole careers of thousands of highly qualified weightlifters. He determined the intensities and rep values that would ensure effective training in both short and long terms, including up to the length of a whole competitive career.
Table 1: Prilepin's Chart
Prilepin’s determinations took into account the athlete's structural and energetic (organic) adaptation over time and the maintenance and development of the athlete's mental, psychological, and technical states and abilities. Weightlifting success in competition comes down to 6 total attempts (3 in the snatch, 3 in the clean & jerk), which total only a few seconds altogether. Winning a medal in the world-class competition depends on an athlete instantaneously harnessing all of their current potential (developed through years of training); in weightlifting, there is no time during the competitive action to “work into” the performance groove like other sports. It is all or nothing in a few seconds.
Elite performance requires supreme control over one’s moment-to-moment spiritual state in extreme time-constrained situations. Prilepin’s chart took into account the need for the development of this warrior Zen
-like state, and strict adherence to its principles ensured a lifter would at least have the potential to manifest this state on the platform. Prilepin’s chart was not only concerned with an athlete as a physiologically adapting biomechanical organism but rather as a complete dasein
in Heideggerian existentialist
terms, or in simpler words, as a fully integrated human being. Prilepin was mainly concerned (as we are) with dasein in relation to high-level athletic performance.
Dasein: a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human (technological) beings.
As stated in part two, the intensity and amount of training are the two fundamental variables of stress. Prilepin’s chart was a massive advancement in the proper prescription and regulation of stress in the training process of athletes.
The first step in formulating a science from the chart is to synthesize Prilepin’s intensity and rep values into a singular “entity” or value.
Hristo Hristov took the first step in this process. Hristov created a sharp mathematical tool for using Prilepin’s ideas with more precision than ever before for weightlifters
; he called this value the INOL: Intensity Number Of Lifts score.
Hristov noticed the sum of Prilepin’s upper limit number of lifts (NOL, the greater number in the right-most column of the chart) and the corresponding intensity is around 100 (this is more precise as the intensity increases because most weightlifting training occurs with high intensity).
Table 2: Prilepin Number of Lifts Score (right-hand column)
This discovery naturally led to the following equation, which provides an approximate practical equation for calculating the load. This equation provides a singular intensity-rep value we are searching for. Hristov referred to this value as the Intensity Number of Lifts Score (INOLS).
Using the INOL, it is possible to determine Prilepin’s optimal number of total reps for a whole exercise and in individual sets of it in a single workout with any given intensity. Applying the INOL score equation to Prilepin’s table, we find that an INOL score of 0.8 is optimal for a whole exercise, and 0.2 is optimal for a single set. The results are in table 3 below. Note that Prilepin did not prescribe more than six reps per set for any intensity due to the highly technical nature of the lifts of competitive weightlifting. I will expand the reps per set here to make it more relevant for powerlifting, bodybuilding, and CrossFit.
Table 3: Optimal INOL scores and the corresponding reps and sets with certain intensities for a whole exercise and individual sets in training.
Enter Precision: The Prilepin Minuend
There is only one problem with the INOL score equation. The maximum Intensity + the number of lifts (NOL) for intensities below 80% is not exactly 100. In table 2, we see that the intensity + Prilepin’s upper NOLs for 70% is 94, and for 55% it is 85. The INOL score equation will return increasingly approximate loads as the intensity decreases. For this reason, the minuend in the denominator of the equation must increase as intensity decreases; this is where the scientific innovations of StratFit began.
I noticed that the most precisely correlating values in Prilepin’s table are the high-end NOLs for a given range and the low-end intensity for that range. By determining the percentage 100 is over these high-end NOLs+low-end Intensities, I knew I could precisely determine the percentage the minuend should be increased in the INOL equation for these intensities.
Table 4: Percentages by which INOL minuends must be increased.
I could then increase Hristov’s static Minuend (100) by the corresponding percentage to return the most accurate Prilepin value. The final minuends are in table 5.
Table 5: Accurate minuends for the intensities and NOLs most exactly defined by Prilepin.
I then employed an exponential change function to determine the minuends for intensities from 90 to 70 and 70 and 55. The results are in table 6.
Table 6: Accurate Minuends
The same rate of change from 70 to 55% is used from 55 to 1% to return accurate minuends for every intensity.
This precise minuend for every intensity should be known as the Prilepin Minuend. The following equation returns the correct minuend for every intensity:
Prilepin Minuend =
I is the Intensity of the work.
The addition of the Prilepin Minuend to the INOL equation transforms the score into a precise abstract internal load value. We can now calculate the load of training sets, activities, sessions, days, microcycles, mesocycles, periods, and even training years. Completely accurate optimal abstract internal loads and the corresponding reps and sets for the same intensities as displayed in table 3 are in table 7.
Table 7: Precisely Accurate optimal reps and sets with given intensities.
We should still use Prilepin’s prescriptions for the number of reps per set for weightlifting exercises (snatch, clean, jerk, and their variations), but this updated total number of reps is a more precise quantity according to the underlying principles of his table. For powerlifting and bodybuilding training and hypertrophy exercises for weightlifting (squats, presses, rows), the reps per set in table 7 are optimal.
We can round the number of sets for convenience, but it is best to do the prescribed number of sets with the optimal reps per set, then do one set with fewer reps to complete the total optimal number. For instance, an optimal whole Squat exercise with 60% intensity would look like this:
Total Reps: 43
Optimal Reps Per set: 11
Set 1: 11 Reps
Set 2: 11 Reps
Set 3: 11 Reps
Set 4: 10 Reps
A comparison between the original optimal reps and sets from the INOL score concept and the updated abstract internal loading concept is in table 8. Experienced lifters (weightlifters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, CrossFitters) and coaches will testify that the updated idea has the most utility for optimizing training loads.
Table 8: A comparison between the original approximate optimal total and set level reps and the final precise values (red columns).
The final Abstract Internal Training Load equation is then:
Abstract Internal Training Load =
R is Repetitions performed in the set, activity, workout, etc.;
I is the Intensity of the work.
Just as the technology of the barbell was the genesis of training science, and the technology of photo and video recorders and computers facilitated the full theoretical development of the field, so my creation was also dependent on technological developments that proceeded it. Without the internet and search engine technology, I would have probably never heard of Prilpen’s chart and even more so Hristov’s INOL. I would have never learned the mathematical concepts of exponential and logarithmic functions, which were crucial for determining Prilepin’s minuend, and without excel sheets making the calculations would have been all but impossible.
The rate of technological development in the 21st century will allow us to radically alter reality using our vast creative capacities to develop new scientific ideas that we can hardly yet fathom. At StratFit, we strive to be the tip of this Promethean
spear in relation to physical training.
I detailed how to enframe the Load in the abstract in this installment*. In the next part, I will dive into how we “actualize” the Load for a complete comprehensive application to the process of Achieving Beyond. Stay tuned.