I’m ok with pulling on the bar for a deadlift and it not budging as if it were welded to the floor. What I hate is getting several inches off the ground, and then stalling out. I have had to bail out from under my share of squats as well, but the deadlift just bothers me more when I miss. Perhaps it’s because all you have to do is pick it up. Maybe it’s the feeling of being pulled back down and slamming into the ground, defeated.
Sometimes I would randomly decide to see what I could lift. I would go for a max at the end of my workout. Or I would wait till Saturday, then start a workout with a max attempt. One of two things would happen:
I wouldn’t warm up right and barely hit weights I had previously gotten because everything just felt like poop.
Eventually I discovered my problem.
I had no process for max effort lifts. I was just going for it when the mood struck. Admirable but mistaken.
A max effort lift on a big, compound movement is an undertaking. It’s not every day you lift the very heaviest weight your body can possibly move. As such, max lifts need to be treated with respect.
I got this process from strength coach, Tim Henriques, and then made it my own.
Do an easy warmup. Just enough to get your blood pumping.
Start with a weight that is very easy. This should be a warm up weight between 30%-50% of your one rep max. If you don’t know your 1RM, pick a weight you are pretty sure you can do. Do 8-10 reps at 30%-50%. Rest up to 2 minutes.
Then, move up to 60% for 5 reps. Rest 2 minutes.
Next do 2-3 reps at 70%. Rest as long as you need, but at least 2 minutes.
Retest your previous max or your target max. This is important because it gives you a feel for how much weight is “still on the table”.
When you hit your previous max and are still feeling strong, move up by 10lbs.
I like to move up by 10lbs because too many times I’ve tired myself out by using smaller increments. Don’t be like me and be haunted by the extra 5lbs. you could have gotten if you had just gone for it. Go for ten lbs. Then you can move up by increments of 5.
That’s the physical part. The mental part is just as important.
Find your song – one that speaks to you. You should go Oooh that’s my jam! every time it you hear it (or something like that.) It should strike to the very core of who you are. Right as it gets to your favorite part of the song, lift.
The key is to discipline yourself to only listen to this song for max lifts. No sneaking listens during a workout because you need a boost – only maxes. If you save this song for max lifts, something special happens. You begin to associate this song with amazing feelings of triumph and awesome performance. A flood of positive energy and confidence will course through your veins as you get ready to lift. The accumulated drive and will of all your previous successes will be at your disposal.
When you can get your body ready and play your song at the right time it’s magic. Do this routine every time you go for a max and your body will recognize that a max effort lift is coming. It will become as natural as night following day. When the beat drops your personal record goes up.