A couple of weeks ago I went in to the gym for my deadlift session and wasn’t feeling the best but went through the warmup, some great tunes playing in my earphones, headed over to lift and worked through my warmup sets. I usually do some RDLs with the bar, pop a couple of 20s on the bar, then full deadlifts for 8-10 reps, some more weight, a few more reps, gradually working my way up and everything felt a little heavier than normal but I kept going. My plan for the day was 5×2 starting at 200kg and working up as I felt. I was short on time so it was just gonna be deadlifts. First set came up easy, so the load went up for the next one, that was also feeling surprisingly good given the “heavy” feeling of the warmup sets. I felt so good by the third set that I continued adding weight to the bar and a couple of sets later, ended up with a new PR!
The next week, all full of confidence, I went into the same session and all the warmup reps felt easy! Possibly a new PR on the cards? Not so fast sunshine! As soon as I got to the working sets, everything felt crappy. Set 1 was rough but came up kinda sorta ok, a small increase for the next set and I stayed there for the next 3 sets and dropped back for my last double. This time it didn’t even leave the floor! All at a weight 30+ kgs less than the PR the previous week! WTF??
Now, I know this has happened to you. One week you’re scaling the Mount Olympus of new PRs and the next you’re struggling to walk through he gym without tripping over yourself!
Its where the idea of good and great (and sometimes really crappy) training sessions come in. Let’s say you train 4 times a week, take 3 weeks out of the year for holidays, work travel and life generally getting in the way, and that gives you 196 training sessions in a year. I reckon about 10-15% of these are gonna suck. I mean they are gonna be the real grind your way through type training sessions. The ones where you wonder why the hell you are wasting your precious time in the gym.
Then you’re going to get the 80% where you get in and get the job done. Alwyn Cosgrove calls these the “punch the clock” workouts. The ones where most of your work is done, progress is made, albeit gradual, but progress none the less. These are the important ones. Don’t miss these ones.
Then you have the rest, the last 5-10% of your sessions where you come out feeling like a superhero.
Just don’t expect these record setting sessions every time, it,’s awesome when they happen and they show how far you have come, but focus on the big picture and look for longterm progress. Celebrate the great sessions but don’t forget the 80% that allowed those big successes to happen.