Get That New PR!

20 Jun Get That New PR!


Tired of being stuck with the same old max? Did that new pre-workout lose it’s effectivenessWant to keep getting stronger? You may be doing a couple of things wrong, read this.

Get That New PR!


How many times have you set out to beat your old max and failed miserably? You take your best pre-workout fruit punch cocktail to make you feel like you want to rip your shirt off and cry havoc. You grab that bar, ready to rip it above your head but something happens. You fail.

Why’d this happen?

Could be you’re not strong enough or it could be a lack of basic tips that help you blast past old maxes.

A Better Warm-Up

Before you even try for that new max you need to warm up to it and there seems to be a lot of confusion about what this means. I’ve seen guys do way too many reps and way too many sets and burn themselves out before they even attempt anything close to their actual max. This is often conterproductive especially if you’re lifting some serious weight. If you’re previous max on the bench press is 405 pounds and you’re looking to get 10 pounds more it’s probably not a good idea to do:

3 x 8 at 135 pounds

1 x 8 at 185 pounds 

1 x 6 at 225 pounds

1 x 6 at 275 pounds 

1 x 4 at 315 pounds

1 x 2 at 365 pounds and then go for your first single at 410 pounds.

Ok, granted my example is a little extreme but I have seen similar warm up schemes where guys do 25-30 reps before they put something worth lifting for a max on the bar.

There’s also the other end of the spectrum where that same 405 pound bench presser will do 1 set of 8 reps at 135 pounds, do 275 pounds for two reps, hit a single rep at 315 pounds and then go for broke and try 410 pounds.

I won’t deny that there are varying opinions when it comes to what the human body actually needs for a proper warm-up but I think there has to be a happy medium for the average lifter and athlete who hasn’t trained himself to become accustomed to a certain warm-up scheme.

I’m somewhat of a less is more guy though so here’s what I would plan out for the hypothetical 405 pound bench presser going for 410 pounds:

1-2 sets of 8 reps at 135 pounds

1 x 4-6 reps at 220-225 pounds

1 x 2 at 275 pounds

1 x 1 320 pounds

1 x 1 340 pounds

1 x 1 365 pounds

1 x 1 385 pounds

1 x 1 at 400 pounds

1 x 1 at 410 pounds – New Max Attempt

Add 5-10 pounds until find actual max

This scheme can add up the reps too but at least your hitting singles a lot earlier.

Dirty Tricks

Alright so maybe these aren’t dirty secrets but you’d think they were with the amount of average lifters who actually know of and implement them.

1. Brace your core. I’ve definitely beaten this point to death and explained it in a lot more detail in the past but the intra-abdominal pressure that you create by sucking in some air and pushing your abdomen and low back out like you’re about to get punched in the stomach does wonders for your max effort attempts. I can’t tell you how many times that’s been the difference between me getting or missing a weight.

2. Squeeze the bar tightly in your hands. Whether you’re doing a power clean, bench press, squat or even your gym’s annual max effort bicep curl competition, squeezing the bar gets even more muscles in your arms and creates more rigidity and tension. The result is you lifting heavier weight.

3. Keep your upper back tight. The guys who put up big numbers in the bench press and squat are the ones who know the value of using the upper back. Pretend like you have a pencil between your scapulae. Pinch your scapulae together to try to hold that imaginary pencil in place. Now try to push your scapulae downward. Make it so that it’s uncomfortable. Now you’re ready to lift.

Visualize,Young Jedi

There’s been a plethora of books written on sport psychology and visualization techniques for success so I’ll keep this short. I read a book awhile back titled Mind Gym by Gary Mack and David Casstevens. The book had a ton of examples of how the best athletes in the world have their own system of visualizing techniques and how they use the power of positive thinking to view themselves as champions.

A great tip I picked up from the book is to close your eyes before your competition or  max day and take a few deep breathes. Try to relax yourself as much as possible and recall a time when you performed at your highest. Try to remember how you felt. Recall the thoughts, excitement and laser focus that you had. Try to relive everything. Even try to remember specific smells.

After that, visualize the upcoming competition or max attempt and how you want it to go. See yourself performing perfectly and doing everything that you have to do to be successful. Repeat this over and over until you’re convinced that there’s no way you can fail.

You may write all this off and think it’s some hippie crap but you can’t argue with the results of the top performers in the world. Even successful business people use techniques like this prior to important presentations or sales opportunities to ensure success and rake in the money.

How’s that for hippie crap.

Turn it up. Do it. I think the effects of music are amazing and I think if it works, use it. I once listened to same song on repeat every workout for two weeks. Whether you use music to calm you down to get ready to perform or to make you want to rip off your shirt and shout “God’s of war, give me strength!” the result is usually improvement.

Got some simple techniques that set you up for a great max out day? I want to know about them. Let me know in the comments.

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