BY COLIN BURNS Juggernaut
Social media sites have created an explosion of videos from everyone and their stepsister showing just how great they are doing in the gym. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s a great way for people to showcase development and achievements to friends and family. The problems come when people claim achievements they just haven’t achieved. I have no doubt this will rub people the wrong way, but someone has to hold on to principles. … I volunteer.
There has to be a clear-cut difference between training PRs and meet PRs. If you have snatched 100kg in a meet and done 110kg in training, you definitely do not claim a 110kg snatch if someone asks. The exception is if you add the description “training PR.” This then becomes acceptable. Why, though? Why is this such a big deal? Well, luckily I am here to help explain.
First, you have to make weight. Now this can be a small task or a rather large one, but either way, it is a stress that needs to be accounted for. Too many people completely forget to acknowledge how much this actually affects your lifting.
Second, this is not your training environment. You are not in your home court. You don’t get all the advantages you build around yourself to create a great training environment. Everyone is on the same level. This really separates the gamers from the trainers. No one cares about that awesome catch Brandon Marshall had in practice last Tuesday.
Third, there is the issue of equipment. Yes, I’ve touched on it before. If you use straps, it doesn’t count as a PR unless you say “with straps.” I’m not alone in this. A fellow lifter at the Olympic Training Center had a really good snatch workout. They happened to have straps on for the day for whatever reason. After the lifter finished, they showed the program to Zygmunt. He proceeded to write “STRAPS” next to the workout. Are straps the ultimate evil? No. There does, however, need to be some separation between what you have done with straps and without. Claiming a PR with straps as a true PR is like a swimmer using their relay split as their best time in an event. If you know anything about swimming, that will make perfect sense. If not, ask a swimmer.
True PRs are the best numbers you have hit in a competition under the rules. This doesn’t mean you can’t use your training PRs for your max if you use a percentage based program! Some coaches use numbers you have hit, and some coaches use numbers you are trying to hit. Both have been used quite successfully. A discrepancy between these two numbers can bring some light to potential weaknesses in an athlete’s lifting. If your best lifts are significantly better in training than in meets, there is a good chance there is missing consistency or conditioning. Consistency seems too obvious, but a lot of people think it’s OK to take seven shots for a PR, then think they are going to hit it on the first try on their second attempt in a meet. How many misses you have leading up to the heavy stuff should not be ignored.
Conditioning seems to be an important aspect many lifters ignore. How well do you get through your lifts when you are actually on a clock? How quickly can you turn around and hit another attempt over 85% without it burning you up too much? Clean and jerk is usually much more affected by this than snatch, but both can be held back. Use this information to your advantage rather than telling everyone about how great you are in the gym.
What PRs should you track? I can’t lie – I hate it when people post a PR in every freaking variation of every single lift. I honestly don’t care about your PR power snatch set of 10 with no belt or chalk and one knee sleeve. Track what is important. If you are a weightlifter, who cares about your best clean from the knee? Work from that position can be useful, but you don’t need a PR in it to do work. It all leads back to what you do from the floor. If you are cleaning 30kg more from the knee than you are from the floor, it’s a pretty good bet that you can stop cleaning from the knee. You are just wasting your time, feeding your own ego by doing variations with which you are already proficient. Your time is better spent on something that helps with a weakness. Also, posting a PR of something you have never done before is just annoying.
Maximizing your time in training is a major factor for success. If you are spending a lot of time testing out new PRs in new exercises, it’s extremely easy to get too far from your chosen path. No doubt – a CrossFitter will have a larger list of benchmark numbers than a weightlifter, but there should still be a set list of things you need to track. It can be fun to chase new numbers in new exercises. If you are just out to have fun, then enjoy. If you are trying to be competitive, suck it up and do what you need to do, not what you want to do. Winning is far more enjoyable than any type of training.