Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"I think I'll test myself today..."

If you are planning on testing yourself on something you have not been training or practicing you should hear the old Lost in Space line - "Danger Will Robinson - Danger...." - playing in your head. Especially if it is a 1 rm test.

Dropping and seeing where you are with push-ups (while not a perfect idea) carries far less risk then loading an un-practiced movement pattern with a maximal load. One wrong move and BLAMMO... There goes something wrong.

Unlike riding a bike there are a great many athletic movements that need to be trained and practiced before being tested. Squats being just one example (and a personal one).
I had built a great base of strength through deadlifting and single leg squats and decided I would set a squat 1 rm (so I could run my percentages correctly). Well after hitting my first squat attempt I was told that I wasn't quite deep enough and to "go deeper" on the next attempt. So I added some weight and tried to go deeper - and BLAMMO...there went my disc. (As I said yesterday this was an old high school injury)

Lessons learned -
#1 - Practice a lift before testing it.
#2 - Sometimes a restricted range of motion is there for a reason and going beyond it may not be a good idea.
#3 - Be happy with a PR and know that you do not have to shoot for a "max".

Practice a lift before testing it is self explanatory but let me explain further ;)
You should be familiar witha movement pattern before testing it. Taking 2-4 weeks to "learn" a lift before testing is essential. This goes for strength/endurance tests like push-ups - No stress on an area > to maximal stress and fatigue on an area might not be the best way to treat yourself.

Sometimes a restricted range of motion is there for a reason.
Your body builds in restrictions and asymmetries for any number of reasons (injury, posture etc...) and once they are there - they need to be dealt with before "pushing" through them. This is an example of the Jones Maxim - Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Screening and corrective strategies are there for a reason.

Be happy with a PR - you don't have to hit a "max".
Sometimes you end up at a true maximum attempt - but as a general rule this should be reserved for meets and competition. If your previous best bench was 255 and you hit 275 - walk away with the PR - don't figure that "you had 295 in you" - cycle back work up again and by the time you "test" again you might just break that 300 barrier. Pushing for a max might be the straw that breaks the camel's shoulder.

These are lessons hard learned and recovered from.


Randy Hauer said...

Agree totally. I don't generally max test new trainees for several months. They just aren't ready for it in any way shape or form. And programming at that stage of the game doesn't require it. I base progression on reps made in good form.
When it comes time to test, I'm not a fan of 3RM or 5Rm tests either...I don't buy the logic that it's safer because it's somewhat lighter...struggling to get that last rep with fatigued stabilizers is IMO actually more dangerous than ramping up with doubles and then singles for a max (or near max) single.
When I was working with a local H.S. baseball team last year, after a few months we had a little max out contest on deads and squats. I wrote up everyone's attempts based on the individual's training weights and my observations. Everyone got to warm up and got three attempts ramping up to the third attempt which I calculated should be a max. If what I wrote was too easy on the third attempt I would give them a fourth attempt. If the second was a struggle and the form was breaking down that was it, no more attempts. In my weightroom, it's more important how the weight is lifted than just how much is lifted. In the long run, the guys who are patient and practice good form get stronger than the guys who "lift ugly".

Randy H.

Mark Reifkind said...

totaly agree mr jones. just cause you can doesnt mean you should. being able to hold form while getting close to limits is an art in itself.that needs to be built up to slowly and the whole thing planned out. thats one thing powerlifters are great at: cycling for meets. its great having a goal and a deadline.

and it takes a long time to get good at singles.it takes a LOT of mental concentration.

Mark Reifkind said...

oh yeah, and Louie would say: "go to a meet, thats where you max out, not in the gym."

Yoana Teran Snideman said...

I concur. That's how I blew my disc out last year. Tested a deadlift max when I hadn't been deadlifting for monthgs. Back went WHAMO!

Live and learn - I'll never do that again!

Oh yeah, I agree with the just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Have you ever seen an obese girl where Spandex to the gym, yikes :)

Anonymous said...

Woops. Sorry Brett,

that was me, not Yoana.

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Randy, Rif and Franz - We live and we learn and then we make the same mistake and then we might finally learn for real.

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