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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

peeeeee arrrrrrrrrr

I dunno if I've mentioned it in here before, but my friend adopted a new ginger kitten several months ago and named him Max. As in, one-rep max.  In an example of random coincidence, I had a friend in high school/college who back in the '80s also had an orange cat named Max. That Max weighed a whopping 25lbs, had a head the size of a grapefruit, and was called Max after Cedric Maxwell. (If you don't know who that is, you obviously were not a fan of the Bird-era Celtics. Your loss.)  But I am not here to discuss great sports teams of my youth or cats who were even bigger than my beloved fat Eddie (but, srsly, what's with orange cats and being jumbo-sized?), but rather one-rep maxes and PRs.


 (one-rep) Max:
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(one-rep) Max:

(and just for a change of pace,) Eddie:

Mainly I would like to talk about PRs and one-rep maxes today so I can brag about how I went for one Sunday and got it. But in doing so, I've also got to talk about my not-so-glorious failure a couple weeks ago. That's the thing about lifting weights, kids. Sometimes you win. Sometimes gravity wins. The days that gravity wins, you can be pissed as hell. (Ask me about the time I [gently, I'm not a COMPLETE idiot] punched the side of the power rack in frustration.)  You can get down on yourself.  (Ask me about the million times I've told myself I suck.)  And after all that, sometimes you can try to figure out why gravity won.

So, yeah, a couple weeks ago I was at the gym doing rack pulls** and I was feeling good. Strong. I started out at 155x8.  It felt like I was picking up nothing, almost literally. Huh. Next I did 185x8.  Usually when I do these, I get about 6 reps at 185, but I have gotten 8 reps a time or two before. On this day, not only were the 8 reps doable, they didn't even feel difficult. I started thinking this was a day to go for a PR. Since my all-time rack pull PR was two plates*** (225) x3, and that was over a year ago, and since on a good day lately I've been able to do 225x2, I figured I'd go for a one rep max. And I figured that one rep max would be...235? But you don't (or *I* don't) just skip from 185 to 235. I did a set of 205x5 which was, again, what I've been getting lately on a good day. It felt good. Almost--but not quite--"easy."  Okay, I thought, I should be able to tie my rep PR at 225 and then get my one rep max at 235.  Took my proper amount of rest between sets. Pulled 225. Times two. Dammit. The fact I didn't tie my rep PR should have told me that despite how well the earlier sets had gone, it was not the day to try that one rep max. But I had gotten the idea into my head and sometimes ideas don't leave my head as promptly as they should. Sigh. I then tried three times to budge that 235 and couldn't even get it a millimeter off the rack.

I was pretty angry. I didn't punch anything though. Go me.  (Sigh again.)

Part of the problem was that someone had switched out a bench press bar for the oly bar that belongs in the power rack and the knurls on it were in a different place and also were very rough such that my palms were getting all torn up.  But I didn't want to use that as an excuse. The reason that bar did not move was NOT because my hands hurt, kwim?  On sober reflection, I was pretty sure that my progression was wrong, i.e. that the way I'd worked up to that 235 was not ideal.  

My pitiful amount of weightlifting knowledge may indeed be pitiful, but I do know that it's unwise to try for a one rep max too often. So I gave it a couple weeks and decided to try again Sunday, fueled by a blenderful of protein green smoothie, Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and a whole wheat bagel.  And I did my progression differently. I started out lighter: 135x8. Then 155x8. Then 185x8. Then 205x5. And then I went directly to 235 and got that single glorious lockout. I wish I had video proof of it for y'all, but I was not filming.  

Mainly I'd have liked you to see the ridiculous new gym pants I was wearing.  I think I may have let on earlier that I Have a Problem with buying gym clothes. In that I, y'know, keep doing it. Especially when they're on sale. Athleta has these pants on sale.  I thought they were cute and I thought they were similar to some other Athleta capris that I have and like very much. And they have pockets. Well. They came in the mail and they are indeed pretty cute and very comfy and high quality and lalalala, but in direct sunlight they are far, far more neon green than that website photo would lead you to believe. I felt...conspicuous. 

Um, but that's a digression. We were talking about going for PRs and one-rep maxes. Allegedly.

Here are a couple articles about warming up for a one-rep max. I've read the T-Nation one ages ago and, yeah, apparently did not learn anything from it, because if it's to be believed I still did way too many warm up reps today.  My max might be higher than 235 if only I tested it correctly, huh?

Though according to this if my three rep is 225, my one rep should be 238, and if my eight rep is 185, my one rep should be 230, so 235 *is* in the right ballpark.  I tried a couple other one-rep max calculators on the interwebs and they all gave me the exact same figures, so I guess there is one scientifically accepted formula for this shiz. 

I'm sure this was all as boring as crap for those of you who don't lift and who don't want to read my links or play with that max rep calculator for like twenty minutes. Sorry. Here's a sleeping baby kitten and Klokov bending over for your time.

If there existed a picture of Klokov holding a baby kitten, I'm pretty sure the internet would explode.


**I tried to find a video of rack pulls to throw in here in case there were those of you who don't know what they are, but 90% of them were people pulling from their knee height or above, which NO. I could probably pull 300 lbs if I were pulling from above my knees. God.

***I swear, half the appeal of lifting is the lingo. Throwing "I pulled two plates" into a conversation makes me feel so much less like your average middle-aged working stiff and so much more of a fucking badass. I know. SAD.


  1. do love me some 1-rep max calculator, so sue me. Sometimes (and I would admit this only to YOU), I try to guess what it's going to say before I get home. Like, on the way back from the gym, as in, so I squatted 77.5x8 so that's what, 80% of my 1RM? Which is like, um ... lots? ... yeah, lots.

    And I have definitely punched the powercage. And the window. And stamped my pretty little olympic-shoed feets also, in a girly temper-tantrum at the stoopid weights.

    1. 1.) OF COURSE your 1RM is "lots." :-D

      2.) Speaking of which, did y'all ever add up how much weight you've lifted in total on, say, a day you did a shit load of squats? It's kinda amusing/mind-boggling to figure out, "oh, yeah, I moved 5000 lbs today."

      3.) I love love LOVE that you have had gym temper tantrums too, I kinda fear the day when instead of muttering goddamnmuthafuckingshit under my breath when I fail a lift, I forget and yell it out loud. Because it's the Y, man. Family atmosphere n' all that.

  2. There is so much badassery in here that I will never in my lifetime achieve that yeah, I gotta stare at the kitties to recover. Thank you for kitties.

    Oh, and re previous post: arugula is indeed awesome for being much more slime-resistant than other greens, and yet I can only handle the tiniest bit in a smoothie before it becomes oppressive. Much tastier in salads! (This is pretty much just to demonstrate that I do generally go back to read your comment replies, which I don't do on any other blogs unless I've asked a question and even then I forget 90% of the time, but you are extra awesome so I don't like to miss shit even if I'm offline for a while. Someday I'm going to hatch an evil plan to enslave you to write for my blog so people still come there even when I'm too lazy to write anything worth reading, but the details are still fuzzy as I suspect that the whole drugging/kidnapping thing is illegal. And it appears I may have had a few too many cups of coffee this morning. Again. Sigh.)

  3. Crabby, just FYI--another downside to the whole kidnapping thing besides it's shaky legal status is that I eat A LOT. Your grocery bills would increase exponentially is all I'm sayin'. Also you may notice my own writing productivity is not stellar. Though a chained-to-a-computer-in-the-basement scenario might change that if assigned topics were involved, Sometimes I just think I need someone to tell what to write *about*.

  4. Hmmm, stocking up on quest bars, topic ideas and... let's see looks like welded steel chains can run like $10 per yard but you're worth it!

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