Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Setting "PR's"

This will come up on the seminar video, but it's something I wanted to drive home in regards to building your base strength through sub max training.

I've been working with Pete Rubish for a few months now. I always thought Pete went way too heavy, and never backed off enough to allow himself to recover, do full damage at his meets.

A few weeks ago, Pete broke from my programming on a whim and went in and tied his best meet squat ever, at 660. He did this weighing 20 pounds less than when he hit it before. The next week, he set another PR by pulling 725x2 at only 220.

For almost 6 weeks, the heaviest I let Pete squat was 375 pounds. The heaviest I "let" him pull was 585 (he went to 615 one day I believe, without my permission).

At Quads, Pete pulled 660x2 off a 4 inch deficit on a day where most of us had not eaten very much, and were very tired.

Pete is on board now with the concept, seeing as how he's seen the proof in the pudding. He needed to see it first, but now he trusts in that the TRAINING works. He doesn't need to "test" certain weights to know they are there. He trusts in the process of getting stronger, which does not require one to constantly "test" where they are at by loading more weight on the bar.

One of the concepts we talked about at the seminar was the ability to understand that a "PR" could be many things. It could be the perfect execution of a rep at a certain weight, or it could be the bar speed at a certain weight, or it could be a certain number of sets and reps done at a certain intensity in a certain period of time (for example, doing 5x5 @ 60% in 10 minutes).

Piling on weights is not the only way to "PR". Once you sit down and decide that you're training is going to be about quality, you can figure out all sorts of ways to set PR's. Execution, time between sets, speed of reps, volume, rep PR, etc all of these things are factors that can be used to set "PR's" in without working up to an actual 1RM.

Pete is going to KILL IT at the meet (if I can keep him reigned in).


  1. The last 2 years of reading your stuff really made me thinking of all the different ways to set PRs or track progress in training. All the things you mentioned in the last two chapters are VERY worth thinking about when designing a program or evaluating the last cycle.
    It drives me crazy when I tell guys to check their pause time between sets and they tell me they cant because they are always writing messages with their smartphones in between... AAARG. PRs could be set in many ways and the moment you realize that every training session has the potential to make you better in some way and keep you motivated and on track.

    Also wanted to tell you I made a training partner do your standard 9 week cycle for deadlifting and he nailed a super eaazzy PR in his 3rd attempt. He had much more in him. He was one of those 1RM-Max-Test-every-session-guy before. Guess he is cured now (at least for the deadlift ;)

    Never let go!

  2. Very true, my friend. I often look at bar speed when it comes down to etting PRs as well. Although, I mnever jot it down on my pad, but i probably should. Past two days, I went much lighter since Iam training first thing in the morning now due to 12 hr shifts. The weights I've chosen--i ramaically cut my rest periods and bar sped shot up. While the weight was not s heavy, I still noticed a massive PR in quality.

    While I do love setting weight PRs, I'm hella bent on busting Rep PRs. It has really made a difference in my trainin.

    I think the biggest take-home poin is what Ed Coan said to youin your previous post. Soemtimes, we just need to walk up to the damn thing and just rip it or press it. On the days I've busted my PRs, are the days when I did not "Expect" it. I just did it.

    Nice post to remind us all of that breaking PRs is not just about the weight on da' bar.

  3. Long time reader and fan of the blog and the much sense written by you. I tend to train more like Jamie at Chaos and Pain, but my principles are LRB in terms of sets and reps, volume, not testing maxes often, and a holistic view of PRs. I recently dropped from a chubby 321lbs to a much leaner 275 at 6ft2, strength has rebounded past where it was, and all due to reps training. Bigger, more muscular, much fitter and look a ton better. Cheers from UK.

  4. Interesting concept with PRs... so, I am wrapping up cycle 9 of the 531 +BBB program.. grinded the hell out of a 275x3 day... and followed up 3 weeks later with 275 x3.

    A different 275 x3 though. This one I owned. This one guaranteed it.. solidified the weight and reps... confidence maker.. better bar speed, grindy but less grindy...

    Damn it felt soo much better than the first time around.

    Total PR.

    Anyhow.... I get the PR differences...

    Good article.