270121 Part two-The physiological responses to different intensity training loads

Preface to the article

Due to the Covid-19 virus, I was offered the opportunity to take a leave of absence from my school district which is in a hybrid learning situation. Based on many factors, including the most important, that of taking care of our grandchildren while their Dad and my wife are working, I took the leave of absence from my school district.

I am hopeful that come next September and with the vaccine being available I will be back in the weight room with my great students.

The following was previously published in the Washington State Coaches Magazine.

270121 Part two-The physiological responses to different intensity training loads

Some authorities recommend using all the ranges of intensity percentages from low to high when coaching and learning complex movement patterns. The degree of high load and skill pattern intensity is, by necessity, limited during this learning process.

The acquisition of and then establishing the neuromuscular pathways are hampered by too much initial intensity. Enhancing the conditions under which these pathways are established sets the stage to correctly and firmly input the movement or skill information into the neuromuscular system.

This is not say high intensity has no place in training the beginner. It does so in developing the physical abilities of the athlete and in providing a positive influence on the replication of already learned abilities during competitive conditions.

High intensity training loads foster long-term adaptations leaning toward the ability to rapidly switch attention from one thing to the next and improve concentration along with forcing the muscles to adapt to the training program.

However, having said that high intensity training works for the beginner the use of such should be limited and gradually introduced to the trainee. They must be able to handle loads up to and including 90% intensity before moving into the 95-100% arena.

Working your athlete in percentages at and below 90% is critical for the proper development of their skill. Loads above 90% should consist of not more than 10% of the entire training load. However, the advanced athlete will do well with loads at and above 90%. See A.S. Prilepin’s[1] table for more details on this area of the article.

In summary then, weak loads and intensity are useful in specialized warm ups. The majority of the load distribution should be in the moderate to maximum range with 90% and above reserved for approximately 10-30% of the total volume. These moderate loads and levels make it possible to systematically form technically correct movement patterns in ways that closely correlate with the degree of effort, the speed of movement and the tempo of the sport being trained for in the weight room or field of play.


PercentReps/SetOptimal TotalRange
55 – 653 – 62418 – 30
70 – 753 – 61812 – 24
80 – 852 – 41510 – 20
> 901 – 274 – 10