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Fifty Percent Reps

Double Up on Double Progression with the Fifty Percent Rep Rule                                                                              

BookStrength training requires progression and progression requires effort.  In 1951 Thomas L. DeLorme and Arthur L. Watkins published P*R*E, a book in which they identified a logical system deemed progressive resistance exercise.

From their format double progression in weight training became common place, first there is an increase in repetitions, then when a required number of repetitions are achieved add weight.  Hence, double progression adding reps and adding weight.

Coaches set up systems of double progression that identify what weight an athlete should use and the repetitions they need to achieve to Get Strong.  They do this with range rules and assign values like 6-10 reps, 8-12 reps, 10-15 reps for particular exercises.  These ranges based on their experience not only give athletes direction, but expedite growth.

Adding the ‘fifty percent rule’ to your double progression rule is another nuance used by strength coaches to evoke strength changes.  It requires a stop watch or a clock with a sweep second hand.


Begin the fifty precent repetition rule by setting a range of repetitions that an athlete must work through before adding weight.

Example: A range of  8-10 reps is selected – the athlete starts at 8 reps on a given exercise, the 8th repetition must be an all-out effort to complete.  When eventually strong enough to achieve 10 reps in any session 5 pounds are added the next workout.

Training with a range of 8-10 reps using the ‘fifty percent rule’:

Set 1

On the first set the athlete achieves 8 reps working in an 8-10 rep range and rests exactly 30 seconds.

– rest 30 seconds –

Set 2

After 30 seconds the athlete repeats the same exercise with the same weight with a goal of 50% of the previous repetitions.  If the athlete achieves 4 reps or more in this set they can then add 5 pounds the next workout.

If the athlete gets less than 4 reps on Set 2, the athletes goal is 9 reps with the same weight the following planned training day and is not to add weight.

Anytime an athlete can perform 10 reps with a given weight in Set 1 or can achieve 50% of the targeted reps with 30 seconds rest in Set 2  they are to add weight the following training session.  Once weight is added they are again working from 8-10 reps to Get Strong.

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