When I see 85% effort on a prescribed set, how should I interpret this?
Perceived effort is a very important training tool. Starting to learn and better understand your body’s different levels of exertion is a key to fitness success. We don’t always want to be going 100%. That can lead to burn out, break down, and in some cases regression. What we often aim for in training is working at sub-maximal levels so we can produce good amounts of power, while maintaining great positions, and keeping a focus on quality. If we get really good at this skill we will be able to work hard every session without crossing the threshold into “burn out.” You can build a tremendous amount of fitness while staying fulfilled and avoiding the pain of too much.
With all that said, 85% is an effort level we refer to that is perfectly aligned with the description above. It should be a pace that pushes you and challenges you, but with the given rest periods allowed for in the working sets, you should be able to replicate the efforts over and over again. If you find yourself slowing down every set, then you are likely pushing past this threshold.
We will introduce other percentages along the way. Keep in mind that there is no exact pace we have in mind for any given %. We are all different and have our own unique needs. On Monday 85% may feel different than Thursday. The bottom line is that you need to learn that you have different exertion levels and that some days and some session are all about sustaining, and others might be about pushing to failure. Be sure you know what each feels like.