I’ve been asked twice this week alone about how to make strength gains, with both CrossFit I35 members saying, “I feel like all the other girls/guys are stronger than me and I’m at the same place I started…”
I’ll refer you dear readers back to a recent post I did about using training journals and why everyone should use them. That was pretty much the answer as both athletes have pretty good form in the respective exercises they were wondering about, so they should’ve both been building strength on top of a solid foundation.
I think Tony Robbins wrote, “You can’t hit a bullseye if you don’t even have a target in the first place.” Now, in this case, neither athlete had a particular goal in mind, but both thought they weren’t making any progress. It’s not necessary to have a set weight in mind, but it is necessary to know what your one rep max is, what weights you’ve been using in your progressions, etc. If you don’t know at least these two pieces of information, then chances are you’re just picking random weights every time you train and that never works.
You don’t have to be real fancy about it. I love my Journal Menu training journal (find links in my other story I mentioned at the beginning of the article) but if all you want to do is get stronger in your squat, for example, just grab some blank sheets of paper and fold them in half to make a booklet, use a little steno notebook that we all grew up on, or foster a new collecting addiction by picking up a pack of Field Notes or other pocket notebook to use as your journal.
Or use one of many available mobile phone apps.
Whatever it takes, write stuff down. Once you know your one rep max you’ll be able to scientifically calculate your workout percentages every single time and, you know what, you WILL get stronger! You’ll be able to start your next training cycle at a higher starting weight than the last one (what are we on, our 3rd or 4th Wendler Cycle right now? You should definitely NOT be at the same working weight as you were on your first one!).
With training you need to know where you’ve been and where you are, minimally, and it never hurts to have an idea of where you want to go. All of that requires a map and that map is your training journal of the weights you’re lifting.
Strength training and randomness are two words that never belong in the same sentence, so if you are feeling stalled out, too, then get some paper and a pen and start writing down what you are doing and as long as your lifting form and mechanics are good, you are going to see major progress very quickly, I promise!