Why Fractional plates are the sign of terrible programming.


Fractional plates are the band aid of the strength training world when you’re trying to stick to the same old sets x reps scheme and progress week to week by adding 1 kg to the external load instead of looking at your loading scheme then you are either a complete novice or just clueless.

5 Sets of 5 is a great sets x reps scheme it is one I use in probably 50-60% of any training cycle that I put together because it sits right in the optimal range for lifts of 75% RM and below.  It is not a cure all however once you start climbing into higher percentage training then the volume presented by 5×5 will simply lead to failure.  Once you enter into the 85% and over range 5 sets of 5 is not going to work anymore.


You will fail reps.

You will fail reps simply because your body wasn’t ready for that load, nor do you need to keep smashing your head against the same brick wall over and over again till you make the workout this is simply a waste of your time.

You might spend 3-4 weeks repeating that 85% x 5 x 5 workout in squat and then you finally make it!

Well done you’ve just spun your wheels for an entire cycle of training.  With some prior planning you could have turned that 85% load into an 82% load by doing some prior physical preparation rather than doggedly sticking to the same inane load x rep x sets.

When you are training for performance and not simply trying to put on size then you need to put some thought into your training you can not simply come to a workload and keep at it until you finally make that workout, this is what leads people to plateaus and eventually overuse injury.

Plateaus don’t exist in the real world they are just a by product of unimaginative and poorly planned training cycles.  Physical limitations exist but trust me those fractional plates aren’t going to get you there unless you’re climbing onto the platform to take a new world record.

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