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therearenoroadshere
07-01-2013, 05:52 PM
Hello everyone,

First time poster, long time fan.

RTS tools have been guiding my training for approximately eleven months, and I have arrived at a point where I would like to dig deeper into the relationship between specific RPE and Rep pairings in stress-based programming as they pertain to volume.

In using fatigue percents to guide my training volumes, I have found that - all other things being equal - there is often quite a difference between what I have prescribed for myself and what the numbers (NL, Normalized Tonnage) show in retrospect, and I have been wondering whether there are volume-predictive tools out there that meld with FP's.

Musings:

Intensity can, for the most part, be discreetly programmed based upon one's RPE charts as expected percentages of one's 1RM (i.e. ~70% = low intensity, >~85% = high intensity), and most of the time, these numbers are straightforward to program and execute. I know that, regardless of FP, a x2 @9 session is going to be of high intensity, and x8 at any RPE is, comparably, low intensity, when "intensity" is scaled on absolute loading, not metabolic demands.

However, when it comes to volume, I am finding that stress-based fatigue percents (low stress = 3%, medium stress = 5%, etc.) are completely contingent upon rep and RPE pairings in terms of their ability to predict the actual work done, and thus, I find that looking back at my logs, there is often very little relationship between programmed volume and what the logbook shows (# sets, NL, normalized tonnage as mentioned previously). This difference is magnified when comparing blocks of training with different foci; for instance, using the example mesocycles in the manual, the "high volume" weeks of an intensity block are likely much, much lower in NL and tonnage than even the moderate volume weeks of a volume, or accumulation block. High volumes at high(er) intensities, regardless of stress in the form of %FP, are tough to nominally compare to high volumes in moderate to low intensities, and this disconnect makes me wonder whether "volume", in the traditional sense, is even worth programming at all when using fatigue percents and time limits on work sets.

Questions:

That said, I am curious as to whether or not anyone has developed a means of quantifying volumes relative to specific RPE/rep pairings at given %FP's (using programmed stress). Or alternatively, should I just give up the ghost in trying to track measurements like tonnage, or number of lifts under a stress-based auto-regulated program? I have, in my mind, a large spreadsheet that would, with some degree of error, allow one to say, "alright, what volume of work - in categorical terms - can be expected from X reps at Y RPE, using Z FP, and how do those categories compare across the spectrum of RPE and rep combinations?" The obvious caveat on this entire musing is "all other things being equal" in terms of factors external to training stress that would affect work capacity.

I may very well be dreaming, though at least I hope to spur some discussion here that I have not yet ferreted out on the boards, in the manual, or in the few DVD's that I have purchased.

Thanks in advance for your perspective, and all that those reading have already (unknowingly) contributed to my training journey.

Rob

Mike Tuchscherer
07-02-2013, 04:22 PM
The fatigue percents are an approximation of stress, not training volume. The volume becomes a dependent variable in this scenario. It's not that it's unimportant, but that you have to recognize that it's affected directly by the intensity and the stress selection. This is of course one way to do it. If you would prefer to use volume as your independent variable and use stress as a dependent variable, that's fine and can work too. It can even be auto-regulated if you use different auto-regulatory tools.

I've considered building a volume predictor tool like you mention, but I haven't had the time. Would you mind posting what you have?

It's clear you're a thoughtful lifter. Thanks for throwing this kind of topic out there for us to chew on. If I missed the point of your question, please repost. I'm in a bit of a hurry now, so I'll check back later.

therearenoroadshere
07-02-2013, 07:22 PM
I agree completely that in making weekly and sessional plans with stress as the primary decision-maker, volume is, proverbially, along for the ride. This is, for me, the elegance of auto-regulation. I have seen echoes of these ideas in a previous athletic life (using metrics of blood lactate spectra, power curves, VO2 Max/Peak, velocity, turnover, etc. to prescribe given training intensities) and it is exciting stuff.

With volume as a dependent variable in stress-based programming, I had been going back over my logs to see if I could tease out what tangible variables (such as the aforementioned normalized tonnage, NL, # sets, etc.) were affected when the more empirical stress variable (as a proxy for volume and back-off intensity via FP's and exercise durations) was changed, and to what degree. I was finding that, oftentimes, these variables did not do what I had expected, for reasons that I was not able to ascertain (and quite honestly, were not heavily influenced by external stressors, as this has been an abnormally accommodating year for my lifting). I began thinking that programming stress inherently includes a certain expectation of volume, knowing full well this volume is also coupled to rep/RPE combinations. I had not cleared in my mind how to quantify this relationship in any way but retrospective, though imagined that through looking back, one could gain a pretty good perspective on what to expect going forward.

Knowing this relationship might allow one to refine or more appropriately prescribe stresses for specific purposes in the program if one can see what variables they are moving, and by how much. Maybe, and I know I am treading into "unique snowflake" territory here, the stress table can be individualized in the same manner as the RPE chart, where metaphorical draft horses may require different stress schedules than thoroughbreds to achieve similar ends, and maybe our metaphorical equine lifters evolve as they advance in their training.

I too am a bit tight on time here. I hope to continue this discussion soon.

Millul
07-03-2013, 05:54 AM
Very, very interesting discussion.

Are you tracking your NL for the 3 combined lifts, or separately for each one? As I have found that you can have a very good squatting day and a very bad benching day in teh same session...

And, how are you taking variants into account? Close grip bench against minibands can lead to a totally different outcome than 2ct bench

Mike Tuchscherer
07-11-2013, 03:25 PM
Interesting observation. It's a bit odd that volume (of whatever measure) did not correlate to your fatigue percent. It's been my experience that it does for most people. Of course the most simple solution would be to just use a direct measurement of your reaction to the training load (something like TRAC) and use that as a means of autoregulating the volume. But I feel like I'm misunderstanding your statement.

therearenoroadshere
07-12-2013, 04:17 PM
Are you tracking your NL for the 3 combined lifts, or separately for each one? As I have found that you can have a very good squatting day and a very bad benching day in teh same session...

And, how are you taking variants into account? Close grip bench against minibands can lead to a totally different outcome than 2ct bench

Both are good points. For fun - because who doesn't find being an excel jockey fun - I've allowed for sorting and charting of the three primary lifts (and their supplementary/assistance derivatives) separately, and within each of those I am able to parse out the variations in weight (bands/chains), and speed (namely pauses) from straight weight, full-speed movements.


Interesting observation. It's a bit odd that volume (of whatever measure) did not correlate to your fatigue percent. It's been my experience that it does for most people. Of course the most simple solution would be to just use a direct measurement of your reaction to the training load (something like TRAC) and use that as a means of autoregulating the volume. But I feel like I'm misunderstanding your statement.

I think that my statements have done little to help their understanding! I should have started with bricks-and-mortar examples before stumbling my way through concepts. Also layered on top of this is my reticence to cede tracking things like NL or tonnage with the expectation that they will proceed or respond in a clean and semi-linear manner. I agree that, rather than wringing my hands over things like the variations in NL from doing higher-RPE repeats versus back-off sets, I would probably be better served by something like TRAC and then letting the cards fall where they may

I will have to think about how to word what I would like to say in a succinct manner before posting again. Thank you to both of you for responding in the interim.

Mark Jamsek
07-13-2013, 06:00 AM
I don't think you can determine "what volume of work - in categorical terms - can be expected from X reps at Y RPE, using Z FP" or find "how (do) those categories compare across the spectrum of RPE and rep combinations" without parsing your physiological state and stimulus-response curve with HRV, and something like TRAC data collection performed daily, while controlling your training-, and life-milieu, and likely a larger sample size, which would be extraordinarily difficult, or at least a pain in the ass.

It's also something RTS inherently optimizes, even without knowing the answers.

But let me know what you come up with, cause I love this shit too -- it is fun.
(Only I suck at Excel, so if you would like to share you spreadsheets, I'll play.)

therearenoroadshere
07-13-2013, 07:20 PM
I agree that controlling, or at least accounting for the plethora of factors influencing one's immediate work capacity (in this discussion, leading to changes in volume, among other things) would be rather difficult.

At best, I would think that one could develop, from a large data set, a fairly reliable correlation between things like rep/RPE/FP and the resultant work done, without finding the specific causative factors. Something like principle component analysis for one's training log. From these relationships, one might be able to build some expectation of what will happen in a training block (all things being equal, which of course they never are), or at least in retrospect give one a better picture of why the training led to a successful outcome or not.

Another thought: Also mixed into this mash-up of tracking or predicting is one's work capacity or inter-set/inter-exercise recovery ability for given rep/RPE/FP schemes. I wonder if this too can be quantified (as a relation to volume) in the sense that there are combinations of intensity/reps/RPE where, regardless of FP (or "stress"), one is not going to be able to recover enough to get in much work post-intial. Similarly, there are schemes where one can recover (perhaps just) adequately enough to grind out many sets post-initial and be stopped only by the exercise time limit (assuming honest and equal assessments of intial RPE's). The difference between these two outcomes (a "tipping point" or maybe a "zone"?) would be interesting to look at, in either this points' place changing (or not changing) over time, or the variance in individual's responses to similar rep/RPE/FP schemes.

The caveat I should probably add is that I am just looking for a better way to implement or analyze an already very potent system, and barring my ability to do so, at least gain a better understanding of what I am already doing.

Mike Tuchscherer
07-16-2013, 08:54 AM
I think your right. Fatigue percents are a tool and all tools have operational limits. For instance, using FPs in Rest-pause training is impractical in most normal conditions. It's in this way that I'm leaning toward using tools like TRAC to assess my recovery directly instead of approximating how much stress I should be getting from the workload. We are currently overhauling the TRAC system and once that is ready to go, I'll be in a better position to make more suggestions.