Down Side of PR Attempts

If you show up to train and you know your last training block has been solid and you want to attempt a PR on a day where training calls for 90+% then I need you to ask yourself 3 crucial questions.

  1. “If I make this PR attempt in training, what will it change?”

  2. “If I miss this PR attempt what will it hurt?”

  3. “Will multiple attempts affect tomorrows program?

This first question is pretty easy. You may gain confidence at a number, you may get the feeling of satisfaction, but really it changes very little.

If you come to the gym and have a max snatch PR of 120kg, and make a 1 kg PR of 121Kg. The change is small and it didn’t count anyway because it was not at a meet.

Relatively nothing has changed and that is ok because we want our PRs on meet day.

But what happens if I miss?

Do I take it again?

More than likely if you are attempting a PR and you miss you will feel like you were really close. Because no matter how bad the miss was, you know that one more kilo is right around the corner.

And now you are in the vortex of no gains for a year, and here is how it happens.

I see it all the time and warn against it all the time. Yet it happens all the time.

How It Happens

Yes, you feel close so you want to keep trying, but you never stop and ask yourself why.

So you take 10 more shots at maximal weights, not a single make.

Then you come in the next day and you are supposed to work up to 80%. But because you tried to PR 11 times the night before everything above 75% is a struggle and a fight.

80% feels almost impossible. So you don’t end up working up.

So you come in the day after that which us supposed to be your light day and you try to make up for the 80% and 90% you couldn’t hit the days before. And guess what, you can’t hit 90%.

Finally, you are back to the day of your program that you like, heavy day. We are working up above 90%. But guess what your last 3 sessions have turned into heavy day. Make or miss your CNS is shot.

How do you think this is going to go?

Yep that’s right, no PR.

And guess what, its not coming tomorrow, or the next day because you can’t get out of your own way.

And on the off chance you hit one of the PR attempts, this is the worst scenario.

The reason it is the worst scenario, now you think everyday should be a heavy day because you foolishly think you are making gains. Your naiveté wont allow you to believe the make was the exception, not the rule.

Now you are locked into a full year of relatively no progress.

Maybe you switch gyms, maybe you switch coaches, but the real problem is you.

With that being said-- I would much rather see people go for PR doubles and triples on the classic lifts/variations and 5 and 6 rep maxes on the strength lifts.

The reason being-- even if they fail at creating a new max, they still get a desired training effect.

They still catch a stimulus.

Missing a 1 rep max doesn't create any real stimulus for change, but rather fatigue.

And there is not real problem with attempting a 1-RM snatch or clean and jerk.

So long as it doesn't turn into half a dozen attempts.


© 2018 LiftLab Co. Proudly created with