Oh baby it’s that glorious time again where we put all the weights on all the barbells and we lift them many times until we hopefully lift more of the weights than has ever been lifted before by us. MAX WEEK BABY!!!
When we lift for a 1 rep max and are trying for a PR, that and only that PR lift is your priority and goal. Nothing else matters but trying to lift more weight for that particular lift, in Monday’s case the Back Squat, than you ever have for that rep scheme. The 1 rep max is King and here is how you should go about getting on top of the throne:
In class your coaches warm you up. Most of the time for all classes the warmup is specific to the daily work. On a day like Monday where we are maxing out for the back squat we will be stimulating your Central Nervous System, the focus on heavy loading and explosive movement throughout the lower body, with some alternate focus on the support of the core. Things like box jumps, sprints, planks, hollow holds, and good ol’ cardiovascular conditioning are just a few examples of what can be done to get the body ready for heavy back squats.
Planning and Performing The Work
There is no exact science as to how heavy you should be shooting for, or where you should start. If you have hit every day since last back squat day and been improving in everything then you most likely will be primed for a PR. How long you have been lifting in your current training life also matters. Beginners tend to see massive gains while more veteran lifters could work for months for 5#. 5# or 50#, progress should be celebrated as that is the goal for all we do every day. Be better, every day. Now we are just (hopefully) proving it.
You should always be lifting with a plan even if it is foggy at the start. First and foremost find and know your current 1 rm, then set a goal. Most important is a realistic goal. Oh, and NEVER EVER ATTEMPT YOUR CURRENT 1RM!!! If you want to make me very upset when taking my class then make an attempt that is the same as your current PR. Once you get to over 90% of your current max you need to think about it as you only have so many bullets in your gun before the gun gets jammed and is done for the day at the shooting range. Why waste the time and energy lifting something you already know you can lift? Go for 1# less or attempt a PR at 1# over, just please for the sake of all that is holy do not attempt the same as your current.
Since you will be warm you should get right to it with the bar and some weight, 50% or so of your current PR being your first working set. How you increase is up to you. Some people can make big jumps, some like to creep up slowly. There is no best way as this is all relative to you as a lifter. If you like to make small increases then you need to start higher than 50%. Keep your reps under 20 before making attempts at heavy singles, and make your 2nd or 3rd attempt a PR attempt.
Check out this example workup for a male who has a PR of 310 and is going for 315. This is assuming the athlete is warm and ready to get the bar moving.
All attempts should be done with approximately 2:00 rest between efforts until the 1s. Then it’s rest as needed. Read your body.
Attempt 1: 5 @ 185
2: 5 @ 225
3: 3 @ 225 with 1 second pause in bottom of each rep
4: 3 @ 255
5: 2 @ 275
Rest 3-5 minutes
6: 1 @ 295, absolutely blasted through the roof
7: 1 @ 305, no slow down at all I must be The Hulk
8: 1 @ 315, I am the greatest, strongest man on Earth
9: 1 @ 325, nobody can stop me
10: 1 @ 330# (f), I hate everyone
The multi rep sets should be performed with the main focus on speed through the bottom, turnover, and standing up. Don’t just stand up, stand up with ferociousness. Jump the bar up off your shoulders! Throwing in some pause reps is for more than just keeping it interesting as pauses help train explosiveness out of the bottom. Speed and explosiveness out of the bottom is integral to standing up heavy squats.
Set a PR: What Now?
Lifting for a 1 rep max is about the mental success more than the physical. We don’t get that much stronger lifting 10-15 reps above 75% of our current max, but proving to ourselves that what we are doing is working and that we are in fact the strongest people in the world like we think we are is important beyond measure. The mental side of life trumps the physical 10 times out of 10.
This is why knowing when to stop during PR attempts is just as important as anything before it. You know the feeling of walking out of the gym having battled all day, and for weeks if not months before it, and got a PR you were chasing the entire time? That feeling is lasting beyond that day and that lift. It sticks with you, buried in your heart and soul, and is used time and time again as we face struggles in our training.
Now, just as great as that feeling is when succeeded in your battle is the awful feeling of walking out defeated without a new number that is a new PR. Minimize the damage. When performing the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift), strength doesn’t just come about the day of a PR attempt. If you haven’t put in the work it probably isn’t happening. Don’t beat yourself up by failing over and over if your failures show little to no ability to make the lift. If your failures are close then work with your coach on any technique adjustments that can be made to improve your chances at hitting that lift. If you fail 2 or 3 times, probably not happening.
Lastly, DONT GET GREEDY! If you hit your goal that you set out for at the beginning of the session then know when to walk away even if the session isn’t over. If your only goal is to set a new PR and you happen to do so with 10 minutes left don’t get caught up in the energy of the situation. If your PR lift was an epic battle then it probably took everything you have. If it was a joke it was so easy then maybe make another lift. Know when to say when. Lifting and drinking have more in common than you ever knew.
Let’s get after this. Get pumped up and go set some PRs. This week is Max Week, the chance to show what all your work has been for. WHAMMY!
Core Conditioning (Woburn)
Core : 21-15-9
Strict TTB or best able
Bicycle Situps (each side)
Toe Touches with Medball 20/14
Hollow Rocks, holding MB over chest in lockout
Conditioning : 3 Rounds
15 KB Swings 53/35
25 Air Squats
35 Double Unders/70 Singles
15 Jumping Pull-ups
Strength : Back Squat
Find a new 1 rep max
– If you have been training regularly you should be using low bar position. This is the position your coaches will be teaching. You can lift more weight because it engages your posterior chain and sets your hips equally under your bar as compared to your torso.
WOD: For Time, break the work any way you desire
30 Power Snatch 135/95
50 Burpee Pull-Ups
S: 75/55, Burpee to Jumping Pull-Ups
1. Strength and WOD
2a: 5×2 Deadlift, heaviest able, rest :60
2b: 5×2 Front Squat, 3 second pause each rep, rest 2:00
– this should be very heavy
3. 100 Russian Swings, heaviest able for 10 reps at a time
then 100 GHD hip extensions