Expanding your limits by staying within them

I recently achieved something I’m rather proud of, a 2x bodyweight Deadlift.

It had taken me about 6 months of specific training to achieve this goal of pulling twice the weight of my own body off the ground, but what did that training look like?  Surely it was sweat riddled and involved delving deep into my reserves of determination time and again?!

Well, not quite.

People often assume that in order to achieve great feats or change their bodies in some way they need to train like a maniac every single session, the old ‘train insane or stay the same’ adage!

Not only is this not true, it can be counter productive!

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t licence to sit on the sofa all day eating junk.  What it is rather is a call for sensible, measured training.


Lets take my deadlift achievement as an example.  I was aiming to lift around 160kg but when I began my final training cycle my current best was 140kg, which is referred to as my 1 Rep Max (1RM).

The vast majority of my lifting during my last training phase consisted of weights that were 70-90% of my 1RM, they were all well within my ability.  I didn’t have to step up to the bar wondering if I would make the lift or not, instead I could focus on good technique and building a positive mental attitude towards the eventual goal.


This principal isn’t just applicable to strength training, in many areas of training it pays to spend most of your time at around 75-90% of your capacity.  The odd push into the 90%+ range is acceptable but it must be viewed like a special forces operation…you get in, do what you need to and then get out of there before someone gets hurt!


This is how I do the vast majority of my training and its the philosophy that I teach to my students.  You don’t need to leave each training session feeling like you’ve barely survived a battle.  Your sessions should more resemble practice.  They will be tough, yes, but you should leave feeling strong, positive and energised.

Constantly living in the 90-100% range of your physical capacity when you train will lead to burn out and injury, which then results in forced time off where any progress you made will slip away as you nurse an injury or try to coax yourself back into the gym.  Why do this to yourself?  Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your training and have it be a time of positive development in each day.  Something that leaves you able to do more, not less?!
Remember, if you train yourself to failure, you are literally training yourself to fail!


Stay Strong