I've written about this before but I think it bears repeating. This message will be helpful for everyone, even if it's not what they need to hear right now. It may resonate with you years from now; or maybe this is something that needs to be screamed in your ear today.
It is relevant for me now; part of my reason for writing this is for my own benefit. These past couple years has been the first time in my life that my training took a back seat to other's training. So I need to kick my own ass for awhile; make sure my training gets the proper attention it deserves. If you are going to spend time in the weight room, you best make every rep count. (And yes, I'm on a Mayhem kick right now, thus the title of this article.)
About 10+ years ago, I was in Texas for New Years Eve and as usual, I was sitting down with a pad of paper making notes on training/programming. I don't remember exactly what I was writing but I do remember something to do with Prilipin's chart and working within those sacred parameters. I was suddenly hit with a hard truth - the past year, I wasn't sure I got any stronger. I do know that that year of my life was hectic - traveling, working, writing and being a father. Shit that all of us have to do but for whatever reason, that year seemed extra stressful and busy. But the hard truth was that I had no real concrete proof that I had gotten stronger.
Sure I trained and I was consistent. But if there ever was a Blackout Year of Training, that was it. Just a bunch of workouts strung together, day after day. It was then that I decided that no matter what, I was going to get AT LEAST 5lbs stronger or 1 rep stronger than I was at that point. I wasn't expecting 100lbs on each lift or to set a world record. Just 5 more pounds and 1 more rep.
The next day, New Years Day, I drove to a commercial gym and pressed. I tested my 3 rep max on the press - which was a measly 205lbs. The goal for the next year was to, AT MINIMUM, press 205x4 or 210x3. I flew home a few days later and did similar tests on the squat, bench press and deadlift. Just worked up and did a rep test. I don't remember the exact numbers of these lifts but it all came down to the same goal - 5 more pounds or 1 more rep.
It sounds easy. It sounds almost ignorant; just about everyone who lifts weights wants to get stronger. But when you've been running in place for awhile and don't have anything to show for your effort, it is a step forward. And that's all I asked of myself in the next year. A step forward. The weird thing about having this goal was that I wasn't trying to take over the world in each training session - I was just trying to get a bit better. And when all you ask of yourself is to get a little better each day, you end up making massive improvements in a year. I'm all for having goals. But sometimes big goals seem impossible and lead to apathy and more often, quitting.
5 more pounds. 1 more rep.
This led to one of my most productive training years ever. And the reason why I remembered my press numbers was because by the end of the year, I had pressed 300lbs. This was a milestone for me and something I will never forget.
I have already began my week of testing and when the summer rolls along, I am determined to have something concrete to show for my effort. If any of you have fallen into the black hole of training, regroup, retest and make yourself a promise in the next 12 months.