As coaches, we can’t help but get a little heavy-hearted when we ask a client a question such as, ‘What’s your 1RM clean?’ and we are met with a blank stare. Worse still is a confused look followed by, ‘Which one’s the clean again?’
Let me reiterate: WE DO NOT care what your numbers are. And we don’t even particularly care how you go about remembering your numbers—whether your write it down with a pen and paper, whether you keep a spreadsheet on your computer, or whether you download the newest workout tracker of the day (Beyond the Whiteboard Navigation and Whiteboard) . The important thing is that you DO remember your numbers—no matter what fitness level you’re at!
3. For the sake of your fitness!
Being aware of how much you can back squat, front squat, shoulder press and snatch is going to help you continuously make strength gains in the gym. Let’s say, for example, tomorrow’s lifting session is 5 sets of 3 back squats at 80% of your 1 RM, and you have no idea what a heavy back squat is for you—let alone a 1RM—then you’ll essentially be playing the guessing game during your strength session. You might end up going too heavy, or too light, or wasting valuable time figuring out how heavy you should be lifting that you might even run out of time to finish your working sets.
Bottom line: You will not get the most bang for your buck if you don’t have a good understanding of what your body can do. Similarly, when it comes to the conditioning workout, if you know, for example, exactly how many pull-ups you can do when you’re fresh, or what your best power snatch is, it will allow the coach to help you scale the workout properly so you’re able to preserve the intended stimulus of the day.
What’s the intended stimulus of the day, you ask? By this, I mean each workout we do has a specific intention. Fran (21-15-9 thrusters and pull-ups), for example, is meant to be a sprint. If done correctly, Fran should challenge your lungs, and maybe your pull-up muscular endurance. If Fran takes you longer than 7 minutes to complete, it isn’t going to do this. In other words, a 15-minute Fran is more of a test of strength than anything, which is fine; however, if tomorrow’s workout is also a strength workout, then you will not reap the benefits of this week’s aerobic capacity threshold test if you don’t scale Fran properly. To help you scale Fran properly, it’s imperative you know your numbers and skill level: You need to be aware of what a heavy front squat, thruster and press is for you, as well as where you’re pulling strength is at. In short, knowing your fitness numbers will ensure your fitness is always improving!
2. For the sake of your happiness!
PRs do two things:
- They drive people nuts on social media when you constantly post about your #gainz
- They make you feel warm and fuzzy inside
Let’s focus on the latter… It’s human nature to be excited about tangible achievements. There’s nothing like the feeling of doing something you didn’t think you’d ever be able to do, whether this means getting your first pull-up or muscle-up, or hitting a back squat personal best. Our clients who are in tune with their bodies and their improvements are the ones who are the most likely to continue to commit to a fitness plan month after month, year after year. Further, once you’ve been training for a while, PRs happen less and less frequently. But even if you’re plateau-ing in one area, you’re probably still improving somewhere else. And being in touch with where you’re at will help you appreciate wherever you’re improving. If you have no clue where you’re at, and you show up everyday like a blank slate, you’re essentially stripping yourself of many of the joys that go along with working hard on your fitness.
1. For the sake of your coach!
When an entire group class of 20 athletes knows their numbers, the entire class will benefit from better coaching. One person in the class oblivious to what’s going on has the potential to interrupt the class and essentially hijack the coach’s time, leaving 19 others to their own devices. Meanwhile, when the coach doesn’t have to spend time talking about scaling and helping people figure out how much weight they should put on the bar, it frees him up to give ‘higher level’ coaching cues, be it strategic or technical.So at the very least, even if you’re not sold on keeping track of your numbers for the sake of your fitness or your happiness, do it for your coach!
Today’s takeaway: Write your scores down after each training session and set up a system that helps you easily refer back to your numbers. It’ll mean the next time you show up and you’re working with 80% of your 3 RM back squat, instead of feeling and looking perplexed, you can smile at your coach and confidently tell him how much weight you’re about to put on the bar. It will make his/her day.