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We’re all after “RESULTS” right?  But what exactly are the results you’re after?  For some it may be weight loss, for others it may be increased strength, for others it may be more energy, and I’m sure there are twenty more possible things people are looking to achieve.
Regardless of what kind of results you’re looking for, you’re not likely to succeed, if you aren’t consistent with your training.
If we can all agree on this much, then read on!


Regardless of what your particular goal is, Strength, matters.  A lot!  In fact, aiming to improve your strength could be the single most important thing you can focus on irrespective of your particular outcome goal that you had in mind when you first started training.
If your goal is weight loss, one of the most important things is that your weight loss does not end up in a rebound situation where you regain all the weight.  This happens frequently when the rate of weight loss is too fast over time.  A good and relatively easy way to make sure you’re not losing weight too quickly is to make sure you’re either maintaining or increasing your strength over time.
If your goal is fat loss, not weight loss, then for the same reason as above, you’ll want to make sure you’re still able to increase your strength over time.  If you’re able to successfully increase your strength over time, you’ll have an easier time continuing to make fat loss progress.  The caveat of course is that fat loss will be slightly slower if you’re able to increase strength than if you’re only able to maintain it.  However, over time it will be easier to maintain the fat loss due to more “play” room in your calorie intake.  Play room is basically room to adjust your calories down for short periods without getting things too low to where muscle loss is more likely.
If your goal is to get stronger, then, well, increasing strength is success.
If your goal is just to be fitter, or have more energy, or just to feel better about yourself, building strength is still what I would argue to be an essential part of your long-term strategy.
The meat and potatoes of why, is basically that increasing your strength is relatively easy and relatively easy to track.
Now I know you might be asking why should you care about increasing your strength if your goal is just to have more energy or feel fitter?  The answer is that both goals, and pretty much any other goal not directly related to increasing strength, are things that should be possible to achieve concurrently with increases in strength, and if you’re able to increase your strength over time, it means you’re training frequently enough and nourishing your body sufficiently that the other goals should be possible as well, given appropriate nutrition to support the goals.
Many people look in the mirror for reinforcement for whether they’re making progress, but depending on your emotional state, what you see in the mirror is often subjective and can be misleading over time.  The weight on the bar, and your ability to move it and move more of it over time, is quite black and white.  You either can or you can’t.  If you can’t, there’s a nice long laundry list of things you can check to make sure you’re doing what’s required.  So increasing your strength is one of the best ways to track your progress over time.


In an ideal world, testing your strength should be done about every 12-16 weeks, although many other spans of time can work too.  A frequent cause of slow increases in strength is training too frequently at high intensities, and/or testing strength too frequently.  An important concept to grasp is that the development of strength and testing your strength are two completely different things, and as such should not be conflated.

We incorporate 1RM, 3RM, and 5RM testing (as well as a few other RM tests) into class on a semi-regular basis, but over time we (your coaches) have observed that some people are chasing RM’s (rep maxes) at almost every workout that they do certain exercises, and for others while it’s not necessarily every time they do an exercise, it’s still too frequent.  This is a sure fire way to slow your strength gains.



 When you set a PR, it’s very exciting.  It feels good to know you’re getting stronger.  Getting that PR is kind of like the payoff for all the hard work you’re putting in at the gym.  So it’s easy to understand why many people try to PR as frequently as they can.

As great as it feels to set a PR, there are times, however, that you shouldn’t attempt it.  Though there are certainly other ways to test yourself to see if you’re making progress, and I’ll go over some of this in this post down below.



We’ll be holding a Strength Testing day every 5 weeks that allows you to come in and test your strength in the four main barbell lifts that we practice on a regular basis (Back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, and Press).  We can also do Snatch and/or Clean & Jerk and/or Clean/Jerk.

If you’re a beginner (up to 6 months consistent training), you can come and test your strength every 5 weeks with a 5RM test.  If you’re an intermediate lifter (6-18 months consistent training), you can still test your 5RM every 5 weeks, however you can also come and test your 3RM strength every 10 weeks.  If you’re an advanced lifter (18+ months of consistent training) you should test your 1RM every 15 weeks.  As an advanced athlete, your training can include a limited amount of 85-93% lifts on a regular basis, however, the bulk of your strength development training should fall in the 70-80% intensity range.
By focusing on keeping 5RM, 3RM, and 1RM (PR ATTEMPTS) testing days to 5, 10, and 15 week intervals, you’ll be able to focus on hitting higher volumes of training (which produce more strength improvements than the lower volumes used in RM testing) during your regular workouts instead of always trying to lift as heavy as you can.  Over time you should expect to see much better improvements in your strength development.


The idea is to pick 1-3 exercises that you’ll test, and do them every 5, 10, or 15 weeks.  The Strength Test days will be held every 5 weeks, in order to facilitate everyone who wants to get involved.  This way if you miss the first Strength Test date, you don’t have to wait 15 weeks until the next one to get started.  Instead, you would just wait 5 weeks.  But regardless of which date you start on, you’ll repeat your strength test every 5, 10, or 15 weeks depending on your training age (training age = beginner, intermediate, or advanced).

If you want to know more, just come out to one of our ‘PURE STRENGTH’ sponsored Strength Testing days and we’ll explain the program in more detail.  In addition, even if you don’t want to test your strength, we’d like to invite you to come and cheer on those who are testing their strength.  There will be PURE STRENGTH bars giveaways to everyone who is testing their strength, as well as a prize for the largest increase in strength in each category of beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
The first Strength Test day is this Saturday, February 10th from 11:30am – 1:30pm.



You arrive at the gym, and it says Find a 1RM.  After checking out your lifting history in Wodify you see that you haven’t done Back Squats in about three weeks, and you know you’ve been averaging about 2-3 training sessions a week.  In this case, it’s not advised to try to beat your previous 1RM.  The level of tension required to achieve a 1RM whether you beat it or not, mandates a more frequent exposure to back squats with moderate to high volumes.  However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t come in and still get a sense of where you are with your back squats.  You can work up to a comfortable “working 1RM”, which basically means, you’re in no way intent on beating or even matching your previous 1RM, but rather you’re just going to work up towards a comfortably heavy single rep.  This means you’ll still be working hard, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re pushing things too much.

Recall that when you work up to heavy singles, you’re not “training” your strength, but rather “testing” your strength.  It doesn’t train it because the minimum training volume (MTV) required to elicit training adaptations isn’t achieved.  And since we still want to get a good workout in that will build strength, after hitting a comfortable yet heavy working single, you can take 80-85% of this number and hit 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps.  This will provide you with a MTV that results in an increase in strength.  With this suggested range of sets and reps, how do you choose?  Well, if you’ve been training just 2-3 x per week, I’d suggest going with 5 reps.  This gives you a higher volume.  40% more volume per set than just 3 reps.  And how do you choose how many sets to do between 3 and 5?  Similarly, assess how much sleep you’ve had recently; how well you’ve been nourishing and hydrating your body; whether you’ve been nursing a lot of colds recently; consider anything that you know might prevent you from getting as much sleep in the next few days; and over all that sense of how good you feel.  Taking it all together, if you’re feeling lower overall, then do 3 sets.  If you’re feeling not bad, go for 4 sets.  If you’re feeling like superman, go for 5 sets.  Remember though, this is 5×5 of your “working heavy single” you did today, because 5 sets of 5 reps will really call on your body to have some heavy restoration if your load is high (=> 75% 1RM).  Chances are though, if your comfortable, heavy, working single was only around 85-90% of your true 1RM PR, you’ll be fine to hit 5×5 @ 75-80% of this number (not your true 1RM PR).



You’ve been at the gym, training day in and day out.  You’re an experienced CrossFitter with pretty good technique.  You’re following a competitive programming schedule which has higher volumes of Olympic lifting.  You’ve worked on Snatch a lot lately and today’s training calls for Finding a 1RM Snatch.

If you’ve been pushing your intensities lately on your strength work (Back Squats, Front Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans, etc…) and today’s training calls for a 1RM Snatch attempt, it’s important to understand that a 1RM in this context is not asking you to try to set a PR.  A 1RM Snatch attempt in the programming is about seeing where you are given your current levels of fatigue/restoration.  This means, build up to a 1RM, but keep technically correct.  This serves to limit your highest weight to that which your current level of restoration and fatigue can manage.



You’ve been absent more than you’d like in the past few months, finding it challenging to get to the gym more than 1-2 x per week.  The last time you did deadlift was more than 6 weeks ago.  You feel otherwise fine, and you’re eager to get back on the road to improvements in your strength.  Today’s training calls for a 1RM Deadlift attempt.

In this scenario, because deadlifts are technically less demanding than Squats or Snatches and pretty much any other barbell movement, it’s quite easy to push yourself even when you shouldn’t.  Not having done deadlifts in 6 weeks is a clear indication that attempting a 1RM is not a good idea, as your nervous system just isn’t familiar enough with the movement to be pushing for a heavy single.  You still want to get a good workout, so what do you do?



When you haven’t been hitting your barbell lifts on a fairly regular basis, and today you make it to the gym and the training asks for a 1RM Deadlift attempt, there’s a good way you can still “test” your strength, yet at the same time “train” your strength.


The ability to do 5 consecutive reps of a main barbell strength builder like deadlifts requires a certain level of muscle conditioning.  Without sufficient conditioning, technique starts to break down towards the end of the set.  This lends a useful “test” of your current strength that still yields a decent “training” effect.

Building up to and performing a technically perfect 5RM, when you’ve been less than optimally frequent at the gym will likely see you using around 70% of your former 1RM PR (had you set one previously when you were training more regularly).  Obviously it’s a much lighter weight than a true 5RM which is often around 85% of your 1RM PR.  However, if the emphasis is on perfect technique, the result is a perfect 5 reps which can serve as an easy benchmark with which to compare at future workouts.

For example, let’s say your 5RM on this day was 100 lbs, because you hadn’t been training regularly, but you are now, you should be capable of making increases to this 5RM number at each Deadlift workout.  Some days you’ll build up and easily add 5-20 lbs to the previous 5RM you did.  As you approach your previous 5RM number, always consider how much effort you’re having to put into matching this number and into how much effort you’ll need to beat it.  If it took almost everything you had to match it and then you try to beat it, imagine what it will take at your next Deadlift workout to match or beat it again.  If it’s taking a relatively high amount of effort just to match your previous 5RM, rather than trying to beat it on the next set, do a second set with the same weight.

There will be periods in your training where you may need to stay at the same weight for a period of weeks, where you’re simply increasing the number of sets you do with the same weight from workout to workout.  After a few weeks of progressively increasing your volume with a given weight, you will likely be able to make another increase and set a new 5RM.

This method of training involves using a 5RM as a benchmark instead of a 1RM.  You’ll be lifting lower weights, but you’ll be increasing your strength more because of the higher training volume.

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