When Attempting a New Personal Record, Pick Your Battles
There’s nothing inherently wrong with attempting new personal records even as a relative rookie. I don’t recommend attempting a single rep maximum (1RM) for several months for a totally inexperienced lifter. But if the individual has learned and practices proper form for a given lift and understands the need for and practices a proper warm up it’s not out of the question.
Physically, the first attempt at establishing a 1RM needs to be no more than their calculated 1RM and no more than 5% heavier than their previous max for reps. A “Calculated 1 RM” is an estimate of your actual 1RM based on a formula. To see this formula and determine you 1RM look here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other7.htm
New PR’s make an excellent short to medium term goal. It boosts self confidence and can give new life to a perceived stagnant program. It breaks the monotony.
A new personal record can also break through a plateau. And it’s just plain fun!
The first attempt at a personal record needs to be supervised by the trainer. The trainer or coach should emphasize their form, supervise the warm up and provide cues during the warm up and the final lift. Keep the cues consistent throughout the warm up and the final attempt.
Attempting a new PR needs to be on a day when both the physical and mental stars align. Any soreness in the muscle group in question can substantially lower the odds of making the lift. Any mental fatigue can also lessen the odds.
Missing the attempt is usually not too much of a psychological blow if the client has been properly mentally prepared.
However, future attempts at the same or lower weight, if missed, can cause some problems.
The client should understand that making a lift for a new PR on one day doesn’t mean they can make the same lift the next day. Or even the next week or next month! I have personally missed lifts 10% less than my PR. It’s not at all uncommon.
Missing a lift with a weight previously made can cause one to lose self confidence.
The client may start to wonder if their program is working, if their nutrition plan is working or if there is something wrong with them (or their coach). Why are they getting weaker instead of stronger?
It goes back to that star alignment thing. Maybe they are not as rested. Maybe they had a few more beers last weekend. Maybe they are mentally distracted. Maybe there is a little muscle soreness. Maybe in preparation for today they over trained slightly. Maybe recovery time was not quite as long. Maybe their central nervous system isn’t hitting on all cylinders.
The answer? I don’t know that there is a definitive answer.
The only answer I can suggest is patience and experience. There comes a point where, while doing your warm-ups and building up to higher loads, you just know. You feel it. (Yes, with experience you can actually feel it) You feel your central nervous system kick into high gear. Heavier sets suddenly feel lighter than the previous set. There is no discomfort anywhere. You are focused and there are no distractions. When that happens…LIFT THAT $#*T!
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