I hate bragging, but my clients have been absolutely ferocious in the gym these past few weeks. I'm not sure if it's been the fact that the holidays are right around the corner, or if the moon is in some crazy lunar stage, but personal records are falling faster than Miley Cyrus' dignity. This past week, five clients of mine have hit new PR's on their deadlifts (of at least 15 pounds or more), which makes me as happy as a Camel on Wednesday.
Sure enough, all this success really got me thinking about what I may have been doing differently, and how I continually try to push the envelope for both myself and my clients. I believe the following three principles are crucial for success in the weight room, and who knows, possibly even in life.
1. Pick specific lifting goals.
People know that lifting heavy things is important for a few reasons - increasing muscle mass, kick starting metabolism, increasing bone density, preventing injuries, making one look better nekkid, etc. But, where many struggle is often picking an end point and having a specific goal. In other words, they may know point A....but they don't necessarily know point B.
Picking point B, or having a specific weight lifting goal is critical for success. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels. Want to deadlift your bodyweight? That's a great start. Want to perform 10 solid chin ups? Also, a solid one. Setting your goal on a specific weight will make all of your work more targeted, and you'll truly see how strong you can become.
2. Progress slowly
OK, so you've decided you want to squat your bodyweight for 10 reps....the only problem is, you struggle to currently do 1. Rather than simply trying to do as much as you can each day, begin at a weight that feels ridiculously easy. Next time, increase it by a few pounds, try for the same amount of reps, and go from there.
It's not about how quickly you can reach the goal, the object is to progress slowly and keep faith that you're getting stronger. You will have plenty of bad days (and good days), but by embracing the slow grind, you will reach it.
After all, the journey of 10,000 miles starts with a single step.
3. Always focus on breaking Personal Records (PRs)
This is possibly the most important aspect of continually reaching success - and it has to do with bettering yourself each time you're in the gym. I've never completely understood going into the gym and NOT trying to be stronger than the last time you were there. Maybe it's because that's not how I function, but there's also something pretty awesome about competing (and beating) yourself.
Now, it's important to point out that there are two kinds of PRs - weight and reps. Yes, you may be lifting the same weight as a month ago, but if you can eek out a few more reps, then that means progress. Let's be realisitic, you're simply not going to set a new PR every time you're in the gym. And, as you get more years under that lifting belt, PR's are going to be a bit more scarce.
But, pursue PR's relentlessly, and good things will come.