Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Minor PR

This past Sunday, as part of my "readjusted" schedule for the gym (and after being away), I went back to finish out my workout sequence from a week ago.  In this case, my deadlifts.

Deadlifts, in case you have never associated the term with a lift, is where a loaded bar is pulled from ground level (well, really about 6" from ground level) to the level of the hips.  The greatest attention is paid to keeping the back in the correct position, not rounded (back issues ensue).  It is a good exercise in that it works virtually every muscle on the back, posterior, and legs.

The current raw record (no extra special equipment) is 1,015 lbs (460 kg) set in 2011 by Benedikt Magnusson.  The current "equipped" record (Deadlifting suit and straps to help hold the bar) is 1,105 lbs (501 kg) set in 2021 by Halfthor Juilus Bjornson (I saw this lift when it was streamed.  It was amazing.  Again, what starting with an almost 7' frame will do for you.).

My records are not nearly so impressive my best single deadlift ever being 310 lbs (140 kg) set at least three years ago and maybe four.  That said, the deadlift has become my favorite Olympic lift (the other two assigned lifts by The Berserker being the Bench Press and the Squat).  There is something almost almost meditative about stepping up to the bar, setting up, stiffening the core, and then raising up, reaching full extension, and then lowering down.  I cannot explain it, anymore than I can explain why the same sense of mediation comes to me when I draw the sword.  It simply is.  And it is the one lift that I can say I can feel when the adrenalin and Central Nervous System kick in - a rush experientially like nothing else.

This time something happened which I did not expect for this particular sets of reps:  I achieved a PR.

A PR is simply a "personal record", a best at a particular lift, weight, and set of repetitions (1X, 2X, 9X, etc.).  It is nice because - for each of the lifts - one can end up with 10 to 12 PRs based on each number of reps.  However, when you start hitting middle age and beyond and one has been training for a while, PRs become less and less of an occurrence.

Part of it, of course, is the fact that as one ages, one can simply lift less weight as things like tendons and joints become issues and the care and management of them becomes more important.  Part of it is also the fact that - like Iaijutsu - as one continues to master and training just doing the thing becomes less important that doing it well; form is a thing to be practiced in so many aspects of our lives.  And part of it is simply that one becomes less concerned about the amount of weight one can pull (especially in light of point one above - there are many former athletes and power lifters that cannot do near what they used to because of injuries they have sustained over the years.  Being able to train for long years becomes as important as the amount of weight lifted).

That said, the fact that I hit a PR - and for this particular set, something that I have not approached in at least four years - was cause for a small moment of celebration.

According to the Unrecorded (But Understood) Standard Rules (U(BU)SR), a PR does not have to be much to count - a 2.5 lbs or 5 lbs PR is still a PR, just as in Highland Games a 1" increase goes in the books as a PR.  In that sense, it does not matter how small the victory is - it counts as a victory.

The other thing that gave me a small shot of adrenalin was the lift was 1.57 times my body weight, completed X times.  In theory, of course, the max lift I could achieve at my weight is supposed to be around 500 lbs for a single lift if I were a super lifter (Point of order:  that is never happening).  For an average lifter - which is what I am - it looks pretty darn near my current max.  Which is fine of course; the chances I will need to lift even that much is pretty small.

One the whole, of course, this matters not at all:  Whether on not I can lift or not lift this sort of thing is of no interest to none but myself.  At the same time, it makes me glad that even though I am in my 50's, I can still have the ability to set a PR.  Our ability to improve is not ultimately limited by our age, only our mindset.


  1. Anonymous4:38 AM

    I'm so far been keeping faith on going to gym three days a week, 45 minutes. Its too far from home to go there and back, so I go after my work day ends, between my afternoon responsibilities. Hence the limited time. Lat pull, rowing, crunches, tricep curls and seated dips. 3 sets of each before I raise weight.

    Works for me anyway. I just increase number of reps to 15 before I raise weight. Saves time and seems to reduce any soreness.

  2. Well Done! Congratulations on adjusting your schedule to make it happen.

    One of the things I failed to appreciate before I started lifting is how much of the experience is just having the discipline to keep going. The small gains come - but only because one has put in the time when there were no improvements. The iron, as they say, never lies - but it will reward those that continue to show up.

  3. I have found another way to fail to improve.... lung issues. When I use my large muscle groups, back, glutes, thighs... I burn O2 rapidly and within seconds, I'm gasping like a trout on a river bank. Dexterity is not as good as it was due to old eyes, and a bit of joint wear in the hands. So, my lifting days are done. I never did enjoy squats or the dead lift. I did do the clean and jerk pretty well but with no real weight.

    My favorite was sprinting, or running. Not just jogging, but getting it done as fast as possible. In my early 20's I worked up to the mile. I never did it for a record, just ran a mile at lunch between class time and work. After I'd done that for a while, I could lay my whole hand over the basketball rim, at least 6 - 8 inches higher than normal. It was pretty amazing to me. A personal best.

    That's done as well. Like everything, you have to find something ELSE to do when something goes away. So, I'm working on my drafting skills, and learning how to adjust cutting speed and path geometry on a new machine.

    Never give up, never quit. Look for new "land" everywhere. New opportunities are out there. Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be opened. You exposed the secret... MINDSET is everything. I found out it's not the fastest or strongest, but the one that WON'T GIVE UP that makes it. I've heard it called sand, or grit, determination. For me, it's stubbornness. I have an entire chromosome devoted to that (well, it seems probable to me)....

    1. STxAR, The Berserker wisely keeps me away from anything like a Clean and Jerk as my ability to mess up a lift is legendary. Simple and slow.

      I ran for several years and got down to about an 8 minute mile, then ran a final race and realized that I really did not like running all that much (nor did my knees). I have settled for walking now, which gives me the time to think (or hiking, as the case may be).

      But you are quite right - when we lose the ability to something (and we all do, at some point) it is important to carry on with something new (like, say drafting).

      As the saying goes, never mistake going slowly for not going at at all.

  4. It is always rewarding to achieve 'a personal best' TB so well done for that my friend. I have been thinking about what you said about resistance training and, once confident with my collar bone, I will be giving it a try. I know that the first time that I lift a weight it will be a personal best so at least that's something :)

    1. Thanks John!

      I try not to wax melodramatic about anything, but I do think a case can be made that lifting really has changed my life for the better - not just in the fact that I am stronger and overall more healthy and (at least in this aspect) feel better; it is that it makes me feel better about myself and my self image.

      Go slow, be patient - and yes, it will be a whole string of personal bests! What is not to like about that?

  5. Nothing wrong with being happy about achieving something, TB.
    Be safe and God bless.

    1. Thank you Linda!

      If we did not celebrate the little accomplishments, we would scarcely celebrate anything at all.


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