Why Amn’t I PRing? – Colm
It’s PR Day. You see “1RM” on the whiteboard and know it’s time to get your name on the Personal Achievements Board. This is your day.
You start to lift, and there’s a niggle of doubt that something’s off. It could happen at 70%, it could happen at 90%, heck, it could happen at the empty bar.
You go for the new PR and bomb out, two or three missed lifts convinces you it’s not your day! Dang! What happened?
It could be it was just not your day. That happens. What we’re talking about here is when you continually miss PR attempts.
Firstly, let’s look at how consistent you are at percentage work. Did you show up for all the percentage days leading up to the 1RM test day? If not, that could be your answer right there. You don’t get the right to PR just because it’s a 1RM day. That right is won through showing up for every training day you’re booked in for. There’s really no getting away from this.
Secondly, what do your lifts look like. Does your 40% snatch look flawless, 60% look a bit gunthery, and it’s honestly anyone’s guess whether you’ll even hit anything above 80% or above? If this is you (and this was/is me!) you need to do what I call “backfilling” your abilities. I used to take big enough jumps in my snatch, going from 70Kg to 80Kg to 85Kg, maybe 90Kg if I’d hit it. 80Kg was always a risky lift. Days I’d hit it easily, days I’d hit it barely, and days I’d fluff it. So I made the practice to make 80Kg my all day every day lift. Once I had this secured, I moved up to make sure 82.5Kg was there all the time, then 85Kg, and so on.
Now, when I reach 80Kg, I don’t jump up so much. I move to 82.5Kg, then 85Kg, 87.5Kg and so on. The smaller jumps allow me to get more hits in at higher percentages, and gently push up the guaranteed lifts I have. Once I miss a lift twice on a Max Effort day, I drop back 5Kg and hit that lift three times to dial in technique and know where I’m at. I get more hits that misses this way, and gradually I can build up.
Is this a slower way when I really, really, REALLY want a new PR? Yes, it sure is. But before this I’d been beating my head against the wall for 3 months hoping that each week I can PR, and not really knowing where I’d finish up. Now, I can say that 85Kg-87.5Kg is my “always there” lift. I can push this up to 90Kg, then 92.5Kg, and so on, and the new PR will come. Now the 1RM days are about dialling in higher and higher percentage lifts and securing them, rather than grip, rip, and hope!
By the way you can sub in knees buckling on the back squat, going onto your toes in the push jerk, elbows dropping in the front squat for the above. The point is, don’t “get away” with dodgy reps. Make sure each lift looks like the one previously. Sure, you might have to fight harder to keep your elbows up in the 90% Front Squat, but your elbows better be up.
Finally, you need to look at where the rest of your routine is. Are you sleeping enough? Same bed time? Are you foam rolling and stretching? Are you eating the same quantities and the right quality? All these “little” things add up and have a massive impact on how quickly you’ll reach your goals. There just ain’t no way you’re getting away from this.
Analyse where your movement needs work and focus on that. Find that little thing you’re not doing that could make a big impact. Concentrate on moving perfectly and the big PRs will come.