I hit a personal best this past Saturday for my 40th
Now admittedly, it wasn’t what I’d been shooting for,
but I still got something. Unfortunately, I went for the
PR using the exact same methods that I use when
I train, and it worked against me.
But that’s ok, because I still set a 15 pound PR.
Here are the 3 principles I used to hit this – while
I was fighting a sore throat, with very little sleep
the night before and the previous week – staying
up with a sick child.
1. Always train for success.
And ALWAYS stop well short of failure.
I NEVER train to failure.
Except when I am shooting for a true max, like I
was on Saturday. And even then, I wasn’t training
to failure – I was aiming to succeed.
And with that “success” mindset – I always want
every rep to feel the same.
When there is a change in how the rep feels, I
make a quick mental note and give myself one more
rep to get back on track.
If I can’t get that next rep to feel the rep 2 reps ago,
the set is over, regardless of whether I got however
many reps per set.
This keeps my nervous system fresh and free from
unnecessary fatigue. This of course allows me to
train (practice) more frequently, if I should so choose.
Not only that, I end up doing less work than I normally
would because I now have the freedom to only
do successful reps.
You’ll find the same thing.
2. I use “like” exercises.
In the KB world, we call this “same but different.”
In my quest for strength, I’ve found that certain exercises
have carry overs to others.
Using KBs, using the Snatch, examples could be the
1H Swing, the High Pull, even the Press, believe it or
How would you know for sure?
You’d test it out in your training cycle.
So one of the things I do is use one or two “like”
exercises and rotate them with my main exercise of
Sometimes it can be as simple as a grip change.
The point is, subtle changes in the way your perform
your exercise of choice can yield big results long term
as you challenge weaker muscles in that movement
And again, from a tonnage perspective, this usually
ends up being less work. And that means that I (and
you) will have an easier time recovering between
3. Use internal feedback.
When I was a young weightlifter, my coach would
write standard programs using set x rep schemes like
5×5 and so on.
I made it a point come hell or high water to always hit
those numbers, no matter the cost. And when I didn’t,
I’d beat myself up.
Then my coach explained that those numbers were
MAXIMUMS – as in, do no more than 5×5.
In other words, get whatever you can, but do no more
than 5 sets of 5 reps. And if you can’t do that, that’s
Now, I’ll write something like 5×5 in my journal and
rely on internal feedback as to whether I can do more
If I can do more, I’ll usually add weight.
If I feel like I can’t hit a particular number, no biggie,
I’ll drop the reps and if I have the energy, I’ll add
sets until I hit the total rep count I’m looking for
or until I am no longer successful in performing
the exercise the way I want.
Again, I’m setting myself up for success – only high
quality reps are my goal and so I don’t have to waste
time and effort trying to grind out “one more rep bro’ – it’s
Here’s the really cool part about using these 3 principles –
1. Training is enjoyable and fun, instead of a
demanding task or chore.
2. I make constant and consistent progress each
and every workout – from week-to-week in at least
one of the exercises I’m training – usually more.
3. I always end up doing less than I think I need to
do – and still make progress.
Here’s how you make this work for you:
Print out this email and tape it into your training journal
opposite a fresh page marked “2013.”
Review it before every training session, regardless of
the program your using.
And use this as the lens through which you view and
perform all your workouts for 2013.
That’s it from me for this year.
I hope that 2013 is even better for you than this past
P.S. When your schedule is packed and you don’t
have time to do traditional workouts, you have to do
less work anyway.
Apply these principles to short 20-30 minute workouts
3 times a week like the ones found inside “Kettlebell
Express!” and 2013 could finally be the year you achieve