Are you strong, bro?
The scholars say you should be. If you are not training for strength, don’t expect mega monster muscle gains, they said. Everyone should be powerlifting. Strength is the most important thing in life…in case you don’t know, bro. Everything else is non-essential. You will mutate into a very useful human being once you become as strong as humanly possible, they said.
How do you become strong? The mainstream dogma says that you must get your squat, bench and deadlift to a number that satisfies the powers that shouldn’t be. Only then you will have the right to call yourself strong. In case you are not aware, there weren’t strong men before the invention of the barbell. They were all weaklings leading sad existences in comparisons to the glorious life of a modern powerlifter who can’t tie his shoes. Just so you know.
To acquire strength, most people follow complex routines designed to bring their one repetition maximum (1RM) higher than the clouds. Once the program is complete, the lifter takes a gym video of his new 1RM and shares it with his digital friends to receive online applause. I certainly did that when I was a barbell addict. It was stupid and still is.
The truth is that testing your one repetition maximum (1RM) is one of the most pointless things you can do in the gym akin to squats on a bosu ball. The truthfulness of this fact amplifies heavily when the lifter is stranger to anabolic steroids.
Naturals testing their 1RM are rarely enlightened. They still think that their powerlifting heroes are clean and got their monster mass and strength by satisfying routines written by programming geniuses. The naive naturals break their bones to be like their heroes. That never actually happens. I know. I’ve done it. I remember squatting with an inflamed hip while listening to music extracted from Ed Coan’s squat workout. My work sets were 275lbs. What a monster!
The numbers that naturals lift are rarely impressive unless you are a lanklet with gorilla arms designed to deadlift. In that case, you can pull heavy numbers that could impress even some roid monkeys who have poor leverages for the lift. The question is why would you do something so illogical.
The deadlift is my best lift thanks to my body structure. Unsurprisingly, I used it to fuel my ego in the gym. I was happy to deadlift in front of an audience. I wanted the suckers to see what a real man is made of.
At first, I was doing one set of five, but later, my sharp mind figured out that you can lift a lot more weight if you go for triples. That’s what I did. Eventually, the triple turned into a double. Then, it became a double with 1 minute of rest between the two reps. I spent the downtime holding the bar. So, technically, I was doing two singles while resting in an uncomfortable position between them. This allowed me to lift the most weight while lying to myself that I wasn’t maxing out. The second rep would be so hard that a feather on the bar would have kept the iron glued to the floor.
Why did I do that? I was convinced that this is the road to greatness.
The gurus indirectly make you believe that your life will be so much better if you reach a number worthy of admiration. Then you gradually fall in love with the idea of seeing an aesthetically pleasing distribution of plates on the bar and start slaving to it. You want to be strong. You want to become someone that matters – a man of steel rather than a PlayStation boy accused of having ovarian cancer upon refusing to squat.
It’s all good until you hit the real plateau. Unlike the previous stagnation moments, this one is hard to overcome because it is based on your actual limitations. Like I told you before, at every bodyweight, you can lift only within a certain structurally predetermined range. Reaching the highest end of that spectrum requires a hardcore attitude.
This is when extremist routines such as Smolov and the Bulgarian training method come to save the day. But even if you subject yourself to this torture, your lifts still won’t be enough to turn you into a hero. That’s because it was all an illusion. You bought a pipe dream, my friend.
If the philosophical motives to skip this self-inflicted suffering are not enough for you, don’t panic. There are plenty of logical and practical reasons to never test your 1RM:
1. Testing your 1RM does not build it.
Continuous 1RM tests lead to mental and physical destruction without building strength. A productive workout consisting of high tonnage (the total amount of lifted weight) will do more for your strength than needlessly heavy attempts.
2. Your 1RM as a natty will impress no one.
Men say that they lift for themselves only, but that is as true as the statement that women dress provocatively for deeply personal reasons unrelated to others. Yeah, right. You put all that effort “just to feel comfortable in your skin”. That comfort comes from the external admiration – something that natties rarely get.
We live in the age when men bench 300lbs and squat 400lbs after a year of linear progression. Your attempts do not impress anyone unless you want to appeal to the members of the local bingo club.
3. Your adrenal glands will thank you.
A true 1RM requires a CNS overclock of the highest order. This does not come cheap and will affect your performance in other fields. The high that you will get will be short lived and not worth it in the long run.
4. Suboptimal technique
During 1RMs, the greed gets the best of us, and we allow form deviations that put our joints in danger. Sometimes the anomaly will be slim – the case for experienced men who know what’s up – but even if a lift looks impeccable from the side, the lifter can always feel a slight form breakdown during a 1RM.
When less experienced barbell samurai max out, the severity is much higher. A noob dedicated to generating massive turmoil within the watchers through iron-fueled jealousy is very likely to allow serious form sacrifices.
I know. I’ve done it. I was a camelback deadlifter – a sin that will haunt me forever.
It’s a Scam
Ultimately, the pursuit of high-end 1RMs is a scam that never leads to the promised and expected fulfillment. You are just breaking your body and allowing the wrong demon to get the best of you.