Percentage based lifting programs represent one of the most important and effective strategies to improve strength. The concepts of linear progression, waves, and periodization, in general, are brought into a much clearer focus with the addition of percentages.
There are also numerous scenarios where you would benefit from moving away from percentages, with most of them revolving around true personalization. The big overarching scenario that deserves attention is that any given percentage will feel much different to a different athlete. Your energy systems, mobility, skill level, muscle fiber breakdown, and so on create an entire world of nuance before we even get into the differing goals of personalized programs. With that in mind, we can narrow our focus down to what your program is meant to accomplish. Aside from total strength, we regularly need to address skill, speed work, time under tension, higher rep ranges, and the full gamete that represents general physical preparedness.
TL;DR – Percentage work is a great tool, but so is personalization and developing a feel for appropriate weights to achieve specific goals. That being said it’s also really important for you to be able to call upon a general guide as you continue to educate yourself or for when you’re in need of a cheat sheet for convenience sake, so here it is: