There’s something exhilarating about setting a PR (personal record) in the gym. The feeling of conquering a lift, showing progress and putting it all together is rewarding. Those are special days. I think young new lifters don’t realize how special those days are and how much they need to be respected.
When I talk about setting PRs I’m referring to some of the more intense and technical lifts, like: Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Clean and Jerk and Snatch. I’m not referring to your bicep curl PR. When I say that they don’t respect the process, I mean that they haven’t yet followed the process of getting ready for it. Too often I’m teaching a lift or at least correcting form and young athletes will push so heavy that they end up breaking form anyway. You’re ambitious, I get it, I was there once. Since I’m here now, I’m telling you to pick your moments. If your technique is spotty, those flaws will be exaggerated at 1RM. Don’t do it. If you haven’t been doing one of these lifts for very long, respect the process! Spend time at a lighter weight and get all the cues down. This means correct posture, full range of motion, ideal activation sequence and great stability. If you can’t master all the little details, you’re not ready for work close to 1RM.
If you step in to a gym with great coaching and experienced lifters, you see more consistency; whether it’s a max day or a light day the technique throughout the lifts should remain flawless (or very near).
Besides the technique aspect, programming for max effort days needs to be followed. You can’t just step into the gym every few days and try to do a max lift, your body will not respond. You need to properly program intensities and weights so that when you have scheduled max days, there’s a good chance you’ll hit a PR, otherwise plateaus are way too easy to hit.
Unless your form is flawless, I suggest taking a few weeks to drop the intensity and make sure your loading sequences and range of motion are perfect. That way, when you go back up, you won’t face the same injury risks at higher loads.
It’s About Getting Better!