Once a while each one of us tries to bench, squat or deadlift heavier than before. Seeing the big guys benching heavy weights make us think – what is he doing to lift so heavy? He must have been lifting for years. We start comparing ourselves with the others around and get demotivated. Here’s the thing – every pro was once a beginner! Success doesn’t come to you on day one; it takes years of hard work accompanied by failures at the same point.Some stop when they fail and for others there is no turning back. Your heavy lifts are more about your mindset and less about the iron.
The Basics of Lifting Heavy
Lifting heavy is less physical and more of a mental challenge – it’s said that it’s 90% mental and just 10% physical activity. The main thing is your focus. I see people coming to the gyms and start socializing, these kind of people won’t be able to lift heavy as they are mentally not set for a good lift.
There are other people who will put heavy weights to show off and wouldn’t be able to lift a single rep on their own and always have to ask for assistance. These people might never hit a PR as they can only lift when they have a spotter with them. They are mentally dependent on the external help even though realistically the help is negligible.
Finally, there’s the kind of people who come to gym, try an unrealistic heavy weight and then realize that it is not for them, then shift to the easiest they can lift. This will lead them nowhere and they would keep on hitting smaller weights.
Hitting PRs For Intermediate Lifters
The aim for intermediate lifters should be to set PRs at around their body weight without any support. If you can easily do a sets of reps of your bodyweight, it means you need to move forward and add weight to the bar.
It might be interesting to note that with constant effort and mental alertness, a PR can be almost twice of your body weight.
Rules to Set A New PR
It’s A Mindset, Baby
First and the foremost, setting a PR is a mind game. Humans fear failing but I don’t remember any one who succeeded without failure. It’s often said that failures are the stepping stones to success – each and every one of us fails but this is where the mindset comes in play. Failures should not make you weak. The attitude should be: let’s try one more time. With a positive attitude comes a positive mindset and the force to accomplish goals.
Set Realistic Goals
A new gymrat can’t aim to squat 150 pounds but he can definitely learn how to squat 50 pounds, which he can then beat every other week to set a new PR. Goal setting should be realistic. Assuming that your max lift of squats is 120 kgs for 6 reps, a 20% increase per week should be the next aim. A dramatic increase to 50% in weight will break your mindset and will cause injuries from which would be hard to recover.
It’s a good habit to keep a journal to catalog your goals and current lifting stats. A lifting journal determines your progress and keeps track of how far you are from your goal. Maintain a journal for every gym exercise having reasons for the success as well as reasons for failures. Check the journal every time you hit the same exercise to gain from positives and improve the negatives.
Let me tell you my little secret. When it’s my deadlift day, I watch short clips of Pumping Iron and Generation Iron for an adrenaline rush and motivation. Motivation can come in many forms but it’s required to hit that PR. A 15-minute morale boost can help achieve results.
Remember lifters motivate themselves by talking to themselves during exercises. A loud track, a word with the training partner, or a video of Arnold hitting new PRs would definitely help. Motivation makes you focus hard on your goal.
Never Back Down
Remember this: humans once had to hunt and fight off Sabre Tooths. Our ancestors have a great history and they were lethal – they didn’t back down! In the gym, find your primal instinct and don’t back down. You came with a goal and you will only go back once you succeed.
Come Out Of Your Comfort Zone
The gym is not a place to feel comfortable. Continuously hitting weights in your comfort zone will make sure that you wouldn’t hit a PR often and there won’t be much growth. Every day is a new day – mentally prepare yourself that you have to lift better than the last time, even if it is 1 pound addition to the previous weight. It’s still growth.
Have A Great Training Partner
We all love training with partners. A good partner fills the confidence gap that may be preventing your next PR. A great partner will always praise you for your gains, will keep you motivated and will hit the same weight as you do, so there’s a healthy competition between you both which eventually leads to setting new records. Furthermore, a training partner will assist in your routines and make every rep count.
A pre-workout diet should have enough carbs to assist your next heavy lift. Eating well ensures that you have the strength and energy to lift well and heavy, and eating directly affects the CNS that sends signals to the receptors. A full stomach generates enough energy to lift, keeps you fueled and prevents you from crashing.
I feel fresh if I get an hour of sleep before my workout, and I’ve observed that I am unable to lift well if I am feeling sleepy or tired in the gym. Make sure that you sleep adequately and walk into the gym fresh, happy and in the mood to conquer! Inadequate sleep can hamper your PRs as well as your gains so make sure to get a good sleep before and after the gym.