T Nation

Focus When Risking Failure?

I’m mainly trying to psych myself up for a lift attempt on Friday but am curious to ask the 35+ crowd how you focus on approaching a big lift / PR…

Do you stack a bit more weight on and go for it, with say, a 50/50 chance of success / failure (which can be demoralizing at times / but comes with higher reward if successful) or do you so you play it safe, focusing on more slow progress with closer to a 90% chance of success?

[quote]AliveAgain36 wrote:
I’m mainly trying to psych myself up for a lift attempt on Friday but am curious to ask the 35+ crowd how you focus on approaching a big lift / PR…

Do you stack a bit more weight on and go for it, with say, a 50/50 chance of success / failure (which can be demoralizing at times / but comes with higher reward if successful) or do you so you play it safe, focusing on more slow progress with closer to a 90% chance of success?[/quote]

If I’m 90% sure I’m going to hit a new PR I should have tried to hit it 3 months ago.

[quote]JoeGood wrote:

[quote]AliveAgain36 wrote:
I’m mainly trying to psych myself up for a lift attempt on Friday but am curious to ask the 35+ crowd how you focus on approaching a big lift / PR…

Do you stack a bit more weight on and go for it, with say, a 50/50 chance of success / failure (which can be demoralizing at times / but comes with higher reward if successful) or do you so you play it safe, focusing on more slow progress with closer to a 90% chance of success?[/quote]

If I’m 90% sure I’m going to hit a new PR I should have tried to hit it 3 months ago.[/quote]

I appreciate the perspective. I’ve been going slow and steady - if I was 22, yes, no problem going all out all the time. Maybe I should up the aggressiveness, but I don’t want to be stupid and get injured…

I don’t like missing lifts at all, but you can’t lift scared either. I don’t see the point in just taking fliers on lifts, however, and I would rather leave 2 & 1/2 to 5 pounds on the table than miss the lift on test day. Its kind of like price is right. I’m not afraid of missing, but I also realize that failing doesn’t count–only completed lifts count–so I really want to get it right. With this in mind I’d say I miss on about 15% or so of PR attempts when I’m just too optimistic about where I am at.

I always lift scared, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

When I was a young buck, I never worried about getting injured. Always felt that so long as I 1) warmed up properly, and 2) didn’t do anything truly stupid (“Gee, I’ve always wondered what it feels like to try and bench 600#–give me a lift-off, wouldja?”), I needn’t worry about getting injured.

This is no longer the case. At 51, I have accumulated enough joint/tendon damage so that even moderate weights pose a risk of catastrophic orthopedic injury. (I am s/p biceps tendon rupture and quad tendon rupture, both of which required open surgical repair.) Case in point–another 35+ TN lifter recently underwent surgery for a pec tear incurred while benching a weight well below his max. (Sorry, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment as to his username. He has a thread entitled 'Pec tear" with some cool intra-op pics posted in the Injuries sub-forum.) Because of the ever-present risk of injury, I now ‘lift scared’ in the sense that part of my awareness is always devoted to monitoring how my muscles and joints feel–sort of like a chaperone, there to make sure things don’t get ‘out of hand.’ If the chaperone detects a tweak somewhere, the set is over. I never ‘psych myself up’ in the sense of intentionally devoting all my mental focus to the proposition of completing a lift. Further, my workouts are structured so that I am as weak as possible for the big multijoint movements (eg, bench is the last exercise I do on Chest day), in order to minimize the weight needed for an effective set. Finally, the big movements are always done on the Smith machine so that the ROM can be tightly controlled, and so I can ‘bail’ on a lift if necessary.

I realize my style of lifting would not work for someone into powerlifting and/or strongman competitions. I don’t know how you guys/gals manage to do that. Those of you my age who do PL/Strongman have my utmost respect, and best wishes re a lifetime of injury-free lifting.

Good perspectives… I think slow and steady makes a lot of sense post 35 in many ways. I don’t want to leave gains on the table, but it seems that as the risk of injury increases a bit with age. Taking one step forward could result in two (or ten) steps back.

I’ll be attempting a new 5RM on Friday versus a 1RM. Just debating on how much I stack on. I’m no power-lifter and I’m not all that strong, but deciding a weight between 1X5X255 & 1X5X275. I’m nearly positive on the 255, 80/20 on 265, and probably 50/50 on 275. This probably sounds retarded to some, but if I could get 275, 5 times, this would be a big accomplishment for me. I’ll also be PISSED if I try and I fail… Sure I’ll be able to try again, but for some reason, 275 feels like it could become a sticking point for me.

AliveAgain,

I know what you mean in regards to being intimidated by a weight and letting it psych you out. One week your lifting 80% and the next your challenging 90%. This all gets solved through SOUND PROGRAMMING. Each week should be setting you up for the next week’s lifting. It should never be a surprise or shock to your system as you taper up to a one rep max effort. In this scenario, it’s no longer “I have to make this PR lift”, it becomes “I need to put 15 more pounds on the bar” This tames the fear tiger in a hurry and prevents missed lifts. In short, you should know you’ll hit a PR long before you ever get under the bar.

I don’t know what program your following but it should be doing the above. If it’s not, you’re leaving too much to chance and theory attempting maximal weights.

Hope this helps.

AliveAgain,

I know what you mean in regards to being intimidated by a weight and letting it psych you out. One week your lifting 80% and the next your challenging 90%. This all gets solved through SOUND PROGRAMMING. Each week should be setting you up for the next week’s lifting. It should never be a surprise or shock to your system as you taper up to a one rep max effort. In this scenario, it’s no longer “I have to make this PR lift”, it becomes “I need to put 15 more pounds on the bar” This tames the fear tiger in a hurry and prevents missed lifts. In short, you should know you’ll hit a PR long before you ever get under the bar.

I don’t know what program your following but it should be doing the above. If it’s not, you’re leaving too much to chance and theory attempting maximal weights.

Hope this helps.

[quote]HARA wrote:
AliveAgain,

I know what you mean in regards to being intimidated by a weight and letting it psych you out. One week your lifting 80% and the next your challenging 90%. This all gets solved through SOUND PROGRAMMING. Each week should be setting you up for the next week’s lifting. It should never be a surprise or shock to your system as you taper up to a one rep max effort. In this scenario, it’s no longer “I have to make this PR lift”, it becomes “I need to put 15 more pounds on the bar” This tames the fear tiger in a hurry and prevents missed lifts. In short, you should know you’ll hit a PR long before you ever get under the bar.

I don’t know what program your following but it should be doing the above. If it’s not, you’re leaving too much to chance and theory attempting maximal weights.

Hope this helps.[/quote]

HARA - solid advice. I’m doing the Texas Method. Last Friday I attempted 1X5X230 and got it so I did a second set of 1x5x235 and got it too (yes I broke from the program. Monday’s bench was 5X5X225 which I did pretty good with. Since I basically broke two PR’s last week, I was thinking about really seeing what I am capable of and going for a big one. I think 255 is definitely do-able the way things have been going, but I also want to take a shot at 275.

The program tests me I should be only going for 545… which is probably all I should try for - lol.

edit - 245, not 545!

Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion!

[quote]OldGoat wrote:
Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion! [/quote]

I appreciate everyone’s input.

255 it is. I know folks on this site (especially my demographic) would help point me in the right direction. I’ll hopefully post a successful update on Friday…

[quote]OldGoat wrote:
Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion! [/quote]

Edit: Went back and reread what I missed Hara is right its poor programing, not knowing what you are going to be doing.

Secondly theres almost no risk from a 5RM lift other than just not getting the required reps. Since we are talking 255 I think we are talking bench so all he needs a spotter and he’s fine.

Why not do the 255 for the five and then do the 275 for as many as you can?

[quote]JoeGood wrote:

[quote]OldGoat wrote:
Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion! [/quote]

Edit: Went back and reread what I missed Hara is right its poor programing, not knowing what you are going to be doing.

Secondly theres almost no risk from a 5RM lift other than just not getting the required reps. Since we are talking 255 I think we are talking bench so all he needs a spotter and he’s fine.

Why not do the 255 for the five and then do the 275 for as many as you can?

[/quote]

I don’t disagree. In my case - it’s not so much about poor programming, it’s not following the program to a T. It’s believing I can progress faster than the program says I can/should. Based on input and further thinking, I’m going for 255… I’ll get 275 soon enough.

[quote]JoeGood wrote:

[quote]OldGoat wrote:
Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion! [/quote]

Edit: Went back and reread what I missed Hara is right its poor programing, not knowing what you are going to be doing.

Secondly theres almost no risk from a 5RM lift other than just not getting the required reps. Since we are talking 255 I think we are talking bench so all he needs a spotter and he’s fine.

Why not do the 255 for the five and then do the 275 for as many as you can?

[/quote]

I don’t disagree. In my case - it’s not so much about poor programming, it’s not following the program to a T. It’s believing I can progress faster than the program says I can/should. Based on input and further thinking, I’m going for 255… I’ll get 275 soon enough.

[quote]JoeGood wrote:

[quote]OldGoat wrote:
Why not take the 255… crush it and you know you are good for 265 or 275 some other day. gains are not left on table you either have them or you don’t…make it lift once means nothing…make it over and over makes it yours!! Just one stupid old goats opinion! [/quote]

Edit: Went back and reread what I missed Hara is right its poor programing, not knowing what you are going to be doing.

Secondly theres almost no risk from a 5RM lift other than just not getting the required reps. Since we are talking 255 I think we are talking bench so all he needs a spotter and he’s fine.

Why not do the 255 for the five and then do the 275 for as many as you can?

[/quote]

I don’t disagree. In my case - it’s not so much about poor programming, it’s not following the program to a T. It’s believing I can progress faster than the program says I can/should. Based on input and further thinking, I’m going for 255… I’ll get 275 soon enough.

What keeps me hitting the powerlifting platform time and again is the absolute rush I get from maxing out. I follow programming but tend to spend way too much time testing my strength rather than building it. Consequently, I fail lifts relatively frequently. I love the hype I feel leading up to heavy singles. We’re all different, I guess.

That being said, I have had a lot of injuries and insist on a spot for squat/bench singles. I don’t fear injuries, though. At least not consciously.

It’s a sickness. This powerlifting thing.

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Those of you my age who do PL/Strongman have my utmost respect, and best wishes re a lifetime of injury-free lifting.[/quote]

EyeDentist, I’m learning that strongman rarely relies on max efforts the same way PL does. Strongman has you carrying something for distance or for speed or time. At that point, conditioning and endurance actually become the limiting factors. I’m doing exercises with ridiculously light weights, but wind up panting like a steam engine. Of course, if you don’t have much strength, the events will become a one rep max anyway.

For me, fatigue is a bigger worry than 1 RM. I have never hurt myself doing a 1RM. I have hurt myself on reps 6-10 a number of times though.

5 rep maxes and 3 rep maxes have built legendary strength in great lifters. The race is long and tedious and worth it. Hitting your next biggest 1 rep PR is never as important as be healthy to keep lifting as long as you want so progressive small load increases are the ticket unless you plan on competing in a strength event. Good lifting…Onwards and Upwards!

At my age, over 60, I never have a PR. My PRS are 3 to 6 reps. I workout in my garage so I can?t play around with my ego. My muscles don?t know how much weight I?m lifting. Maybe that is why I have been relative injury free throughout my life. I will defiantly push myself harder in the summer months. I live for summer. What?s the point in working out if you can?t show it once in a while. My main concern is form. If I feel strong I?ll push it but if you are injured and you can?t train, you can?t get bigger. This is something I always try to remember.

The key to anything worth while is slow and steady. Just think, you can lift more today than the first day you started working out. And that goes for all of us. Just think how much more you?ll be lifting at this time next year!
Wishing you much success.