|The Barbells for Boobs group|
Numbers are important. We constantly ask you to record your scores so you can see your improvement and get a better idea of where your fitness is. We use the timer, rounds and reps counts, and weight to record those numbers. They are all great tools to show where you are at.
But, sometimes CrossFitters focus a little too much on certain data, without fully understanding that data. For example, using the timer or clock. If do "Grace" in 5:00 at the "Rx'd" weight, I record my time. The next time I complete it in 5:50, but my Cleans are smoother and my elbows are fully locked out and I use Active Shoulders one each rep of Jerks and overall better form than last time. Which effort of "Grace" is better and shows I'm more fit? Is it better to be faster or is it better to have good safe form for each rep?
I will take the good reps every time.
Another tool we use that we sometimes focus wrongly on is the 1 rep max for strength exercises (i.e: The CrossFit Total). Now I love lifting big. Most of you who didn't come from a strength background have also learned to like to lift heavy and enjoy testing your 1 Rep Max.'s. But you 1 Rep Max is just that.....a test.
Breaking Personal Records (PR’s)
Most people live and die by their 1 Rep Max. To me, this is foolish and shortsighted. If you Squat 300# for 1 Rep, the next time you attempt it, it is possible to only be able to lift 85% of that (that could mean a full 45# less!). Does that mean you lost strength? No! Many things could get in the way of hitting weights you should be able to hit; bad sleep, bad food, doing too many CrossFit WODs close to your 1 Rep Max attempt, sicknesses, time of day, stretching, etc.
If your Squat goes from 225x6 to 225x9, you’ve gotten stronger. If your Power Clean 5 x 3 goes up 5# each week, you've gotten stronger. If you keep setting and breaking rep records, you’ll get stronger. Don’t get stuck just trying to increase your one rep max. If you keep breaking your rep records, it’ll go up eventually....and with better form. Look at your last 1 Rep Max. Most likely your form broke down at some point, you rounded your back more on the Deadlift, you didn't go quite as deep in you Squat, etc. If you work to increase other rep records you usually do it at weights that you can maintain your form
Start TOO light
I've been taught this since I was in high school, but unfortunately, I didn’t listen. Hopefully you will. Starting too light allows for more time for you to progress forward. It’s easy for anyone – beginner or advanced – to want to get ahead of themselves. Your lifts will go up for a few months, but then they’ll stall – and stall, and stall some more. Lifters get frustrated and don’t understand that the way around this is to prolong the time it takes to get to the goal. You have to keep inching forward. This is a very hard pill to swallow for most lifters. They want to start heavy, and they want to start now. This is nothing more than ego, and nothing will destroy a lifter faster, or for longer, than ego.
This goes hand in hand with starting light. Slow progress might not get you the best rewards today, but it will tomorrow. The longer you can progress, even if it’s by one rep or 2.5 pounds, the more it means that you’re actually making progress. People often see their Bench Press go way up in their first year of lifting. They can improve by 40-50 pounds in their first few months alone just by learning technique and consistent progression. Then they want the program that will put 40 more pounds on their bench in just 8 weeks! When they say this, I know I'm speaking with someone who is lifting with what I call "Beginner's Success". If we could keep that 40 pounds going every 8 Week Program, we'd all be lifting 800 pounds in just over a year!
The game of lifting isn’t an 8-week pursuit. It doesn’t last as long as your latest program does. Rather, it’s a lifetime pursuit. If you understand this, then progressing slowly isn’t a big deal. In fact, this can be a huge weight lifted off your back. Now you can focus on getting those 5 extra pounds rather than 50. It’s always been one of my goals to Deadlift 555#. Last year, I did just that. When someone asked me what my next goal was, my response was simple: “560 pounds.” If you bench press 225 pounds and want to get 275, you have to bench 230 first.
So why do we lift for a 1 Rep Max?
Simply to test ourselves on that day and that day alone and to provide important data about our training. When I make a new 1 Rep Max, I take into account how I slept the night before, how I ate the days leading up to it, how my training has been the last few months and weeks, where my mind was at that very moment, and on and on and on.
On a good day, my new 1 Rep Max is not telling me that's how strong I am. It's telling me I need to get back into the gym and make sure I can back up that new PR by improving my baseline numbers (weights at percentages and/or sets of 3's and 5's).
On a bad day, if I don't make a new 1 Rep Max, then it simply reminds me I need to continue working. So I will get back in the gym and continue to work towards those PR's, be they 1 rep, 3 rep, 5 reps or Grace times like the many we saw fall on Friday. If I'm making an improvement somewhere, anywhere, then I am getting fitter.