Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Estimated Maxes Vs Actual Maxes

When beginning a programme and establishing your working weights do not estimate 1 rep maxes. Do not take a stab in the dark and say 'I reckon i could'. Chances are you are over estimating ability due to ego, or in rarer cases under estimating your ability and selling yourself short. Instead use factual information to set your max weights. Either test your 1 rep maxes under the same conditions as you will be performing reps in the programme. For example If you will be close stance squatting below parallel with a pause at the bottom of the rep, then do not use a previous record for a wider stance squat above parallel with no pause. The difference in weight will be significant as it is a totally different movement. My advice is to take a week prior to starting a programme to test all primary movements in the programme to a technical max. This could be a 1 rep max, 5 rep max or whatever, depending on the type of training you are doing and what info you need before starting your programme. Note that I said a technical max. This is a weight you can lift with a bare minimum of breakdown in form. In training you want to spend most of your time performing reps which are technically as perfect as possible. If you base your workouts off a max which your form completely broke down and looked horrendous then chances are you will stall out in your programme very quickly due to the fact you have over shot the runway a little and need to be working slightly lighter to ensure progress. The key is to recognise the difference between training and competition. Granted training is supposed to challenge you but it is not where you take risk in injuring yourself. During competition you are at risk enough as this will be an all out maximal attempt where some breakdown in form is probably acceptable / normal. You will make better progress in training if you are honest with yourself about your current level. Too often I see people come in and say, well Ive deadlifted 220kg (for example) before, so I am going to base my programme off that. Omitting the facts that firstly the last time they performed this lift at this weight was months / weeks ago, and they have no idea if they can actually hit that today, and also that the previous time was performed under different circumstances, different bar, different gym, different stance, different shoes, perhaps using straps. All in all it would be ridiculous to base a max by anything other than what you know for 100% certainty that you can get on any given day of the week whether you are feeling good or bad. If in doubt estimate a few kg's too low, you will more likely make progress for longer this way. In summary, control your ego and lift what you CAN lift, not what you think you probably could lift on a good day.