The great philosopher Cam’ron once asked “What means the world to you?”. Ask the seven billion people on this earth that question and you’ll likely get seven billion different answers. In CrossFit we measure our own greatest successes as PRs. Personal Records. Personal Records. So let me ask you, What does a PR mean to you?
However, since this is my blog, I’m going to talk about my first PR. (smiley face)
The stage must be set before the story can be told. You need to get in the right frame of mind. To do that, let me reintroduce you to an old friend.
Oh yes, it was bear time. When I walked into CrossFit 865 and saw that we were going to do 1RM (one rep max) on deadlifts. A 1RM is the maximum amount of weight (heaviest) you can do for one complete repetition. This was my first time going for a one rep max in anything. I was excited. I was very excited.
We warmed up with light weight at first, guys starting at 135 lbs. We worked our way up quickly to 225 lbs and then started adding weight in smaller increments and had more rest between lifts. I had no idea what I could deadlift. 275 lbs was getting heavy but I knew that wasn’t my limit.
attempted successful weight was 295. That was heavy. After my lift I spent a few minutes stretching and shaking out my legs. Had to keep my hamstrings warm. A couple of others had their turn with the bar. And then it was my turn again.
In my mind, I was going to add ten pounds and go for a 305 lb lift. That was the plan… but we know how plans usually go. Jesse was taking weight off from the guy who lifted before me and then turns to me and asks, “315?”
“F*ck it, let’s do it.”
Just before I assumed the above position, Biggie came on with Hypnotize. Perfect song to prepare to lift the heaviest weight I’ve ever pulled off the floor. (Amazing how the perfect song at the perfect time can provide the perfect state of mind, huh?)
The bar was loaded with 315 lbs. I applied fresh chalk to my hands. I stepped up to bar and my shins embraced the steel. I exhaled and lifted my shorts up a couple of inches as I dropped down into a half squat. My fingers caressed the knurling and then wrapped around the bar into my mixed grip. I pushed my knees back and lifted my hips. My senses shifted off and suddenly there was no background music, there was no sun shining through the front windows, there were no other people in the box – just me and the bar. My entire body squeezed itself. A couple more exhales and it was go time.
<Insert bear roar>
Three hundred and fifteen pounds. Nailed it.
And you’re damn right I dropped the bar after I locked it out and held it for that glorious, euphoric second.
So, what did that PR mean to me?
First of all, anytime we do something for the first time, we are going to achieve a personal record. My new PR from that day was a 315 lb deadlift. Others deadlifting with me set PRs of their own. Some for the first time, others improving on what they had done before – becoming better than yesterday. And yes, some people did not better their previous maximum deadlifts. I set a new PR for myself, even if it was a starting point.
Some random thoughts I’ve had since then:
- Holy cow I lifted something greater than 300 pounds off the ground! I lifted an NFL lineman off the ground!
- I lifted 15% of a ton. Fifteen. Percent. Of a ton.
- I only pulled a little over half of what Jason Khalipa deadlifts.
- Other dudes in the gym lifted over 100 lbs more than me and that wasn’t their PR.
- Some girls at the box have a deadlift PR of double their body weight. I have 45 more pounds to go to double mine.
- It felt freaking awesome to push myself through that lift.
- I could’ve done more.
I think I could have lifted another 10 pounds. Maybe. That was my first attempt at any kind of 1RM. I should’ve maybe pushed until I failed a lift. But that wasn’t the time. That morning was all about setting a benchmark for myself, to do something I’ve never done before, to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Can lifting heavier weights be scary? Absolutely. The thought of doing heavy squats kind of freaks me out. When I used to bench press at my old gym, I would obsess over the exact poundage loaded onto the bar. (It wasn’t very much weight, no need to discuss, let’s just move on…) I wanted it to be more weight, I think every time I added a bit more, my mental weakness would get the best of me, causing physical weakness. My fellow CrossFit blogger friend Jennifer wrote about this on her blog, Wine to Weightlifting. I think if Jesse had added more weight and I had attempted 325 without knowing, I would have made that lift.
Mind over matter. You and the bar. And nothing else. Forget what that girl just lifted. Forget what that guy just yanked off the floor. Forget what number is stamped on the plates and just pick it up.
I’m happy with my 315 lb deadlift. I’m happier for the chance to pick up something heavier next time.
My PR is my PR. Your PR is your PR. It’s a personal record. You may deadlift more than me. You may run faster than me. I bet I could out race you in a pool. We have our own strengths, we have our own weaknesses. (except Rich Froning, he’s special) Your personal records show you where you stand against yourself. They track your progress of becoming better than yesterday. Don’t compare them against someone else and feel superior or inferior. Compare them against the mirror. After all, we’re here to forge elite fitness for ourselves. We’re here to be awesome. And we’re here to lift heavy shit off the floor like a bunch of freaking beastly bears. Roar.