Heavy versus Max Days…

If you look back at our programming, in its entirety, you’ll notice that the weightlifting pieces are often programmed three distinctly different ways:
  1. Direct sets & reps (5 x 3, 6 x 2, % based work, etc)
  2. 12min to Heavy Triple (or some other figure)
  3. 30min to 1RM (or some other figure)


The first above is straightforward – you are doing X number of sets for Y number of reps at a prescribed intensity – weight, %, etc.


The other two options are ones that I want to clarify.


When we program something like a heavy {insert random number here}, we do it with the intention of having you work up to a weight that is challenging for the suggested number of repetitions. For example – if we program a ‘heavy triple’, this is characterized as a weight that you lifted successfully 3 times, with solid technique, that you definitely could have done another time or two if you really pushed the limit. If you felt terrible on rep #1, but still grinded through reps 2&3 really ugly, that was not a heavy 3. I don’t know what it was.


Almost every single day that we coach a class of people during one of these weightlifting pieces, there are remarks during the hour and/or WODIFY comments along the lines of:


“Didn’t have enough time.” “Ran out of time.” “Blah blah blah.”


And you know what? They are exactly right…in a way. During days like that, it is NOT our intention for you to “have enough time” to work up to some fictitious number that you have stuck in your cranium. We do NOT intend for you to max out on that day. There are approximately three cases where you probably should see a PR on days structured this way:

  1. You are new to the gym and/or lifting in general and therefore have little to no training history or training of that lift
  2. It is a complex with 2-3 elements (for instance: power clean + clean + split jerk) that lends itself well to PR’ing once you become more familiar with it
  3. You stopped sandbagging


We use days like that for a number of reasons, but the largest is to control the amount of weight we want you using. Put another way, we don’t want you lifting too big a percentage of your max. Why? Science. Alas, thats a post for another day.


On the flip side, there most certainly are times where we fully expect you to really shoot for a new maximum, whether its 1, 3, 5, or some other number of reps we’ve designated. On those days, the training up to that point has prepared your body adequately to shoot for and, if things are aligned right, hit that new max. Don’t believe me, ask Pan American Clean and Jerk record holder Shannon Whiteman…


All that being said, if you only take away ONE thing from this post, please let it be the following: TRUST and FOLLOW the programming that we put out there. It is 100% by design, and if you push the limits on days you’re not supposed to (you know, like on heavy deadlift days), you won’t be able to on days you should, like on 1RM deadlift days.
people working out in a group fitness class


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