10 Essentials… Know your Percents

Put me in coach! If your plan is to have an efficient workout, you need to know your percents. In order to calculate them, you need to know what your 1 rep max (1RM) is for each basic lift (squat, deadlift, chest press, overhead press) and you need to know your cardio zones as a percent of your heart rate reserve (HRR=max HR-resting HR). HRR is used because RHR is a fitness indicator and therefore gives a more accurate optimal cardio zone.

To calculate your 1RM, use the formula:

= weight / (1.0278 – (.0278 X reps))



If you really hate math or you’re really lazy, you can just find a website to do your calculation for you.

These numbers are important because, for resistance training, you need to adequately overload your muscles depending on your outcome goal. I’ll go into more detail in another post. For now, you’ll use your percents to build a progressive program using sub-maximal effort. For example, an intermediate program might look like this:

Week 1

Mon- all lifts at 70% 1RM

Wed- 80% 1RM

Fri- 90% 1RM

Week 2

Mon- 75% 1RM

Wed- 85% 1RM

Fri- 95% 1RM



If you’re in for a quick cardio session, intensity is paramount to your success!

Depending on your goal, you’ll be working in different HR zones:

For fat loss, stay in a moderate zone (ie. 50-75% HRR) for no less than 30min, but ideally 60min (you want to hit at least 150 minutes per week). Calculate 50%HRR and 75%HRR and just stay between those numbers. This is the zone where fatty acids are your body’s primary fuel source. When the HR hits 93%HRR, carbs (in the form of glucose and glycogen) are the main fuel source . Protein (muscle) is rarely used  for fuel and for the vast majority, a combination of fatty acids and glucose/glycogen provide your energy fuel. Exceptions may be ultra-distance athletes or fasted (starved) individuals.

For HRR percents, use the Karvonen formula:

=((220-age) – RHR) X intensity + RHR


=150 beats per minute to meet 70% HRR

Again, there is always Google.


If you like what you just read, please share it with a friend and make sure to check back for ’10 Essentials… Have a Plan of Attack’.


#fitness #health #wellness #vancouver #personaltrainer

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