Listening to a podcast the other day I heard James Tatum say something pretty profound that most lifters know and follow. He was talking about following his programming BUT in the event that he just happens to be having a good day and the lifts are feeling smooth and fast he will often abandon his work for that day and just go for it. What he meant is if he feels like his body is primed for a PR, then he will let loose and go after the PR.
The idea that you would abandon your program for the day and go after a PR however is a double-edged sword. For new lifters I would not suggest going after a PR every time you felt like you could make it because that’s all you would do. New lifters are far more likely to get new PR’s because of exposure to the lifts. Their program would be short-sighted and fast-burning if they were to go after a PR daily. New lifters need technical work. They need to fight that urge to go after a new PR and instead work the less-exciting but more useful technical elements of their lifts. Furthermore, the experience gained and development that happens from sticking to a program will prove to be far more useful in the long run than a new PR. Holding back the reins for a new lifter will create lifters who are in it for the long haul.
However, for experienced lifters who have been slamming bars the theory changes. If you are a experienced lifter who doesn’t see new PR’s every week or even every month then the day you feel like you’re primed for a PR, GO FOR IT! An experienced lifter has done their time learning technique and perfecting their craft. They have paid their dues working through hard squat cycles and enduring triples and doubles at 80%. They’ve held back when their body said go for a PR. However, as a lifter with some years of training, a PR can be rejuvenating and a rare taste of fresh air. The deep, dark, monotonous side of weightlifting can often be endured because of the day 3 months ago when you smoked a snatch PR. If you are experienced, know what you’re doing, understand the necessity for sticking to a program, and your body is moving well, then go for a PR every once and a while. It may be the best thing for you.
It’s important that PR’s happen. They are the reason the sport is exciting. Nobody gets amped up to watch someone snatch 75% for triples. It’s the PRs that drive the sport and motivate the lifters. However, a smart lifter knows when its time to go after one and when its time to put your nose to the ground and do work. Be wise about how often you attempt a PR but if you’re body feels ripe and the bar is moving smooth and you’ve been drudging through a long 12 week strength program, a PR may be just what you need to springboards you to a couple more.
Speaking of hospital visits, Chip almost got to share Josh’s story. LET GO OF THE BAR!