Are My Maxes Suffering?

By Coach Sarah

Many lifters are asking themselves that question right now.  Whether you have limited equipment or nothing at all the quarantine is bound to affect you in one way or another.  The lucky few that already train in their garages and have full equipment set ups are the exception, but even they may be suffering from the lack of social interaction that comes from the gym.  There is also a select group that may have some equipment, enough to do squats and pulls, but not enough to do the classic lifts (Snatch, Clean and Jerk).  In this special case it is possible to maintain strength numbers and possibly not lose much of our classic lift numbers.

Whatever your situation is you should realize a couple things as you go through quarantine.  First everyone is going to react differently.  Some lifters will be able to come out of quarantine doing nearly the same numbers that they had before they went in.  Several things can play a factor in this.  Some lifters will be more experienced.  They don’t lose the bar path and feel off after missing a couple training sessions.  The 1,000’s of reps that they have put in over the years will help them maintain proper technique.

Now consider someone that is fairly new to the lifts.  Just a little time off is going to make them look and feel like a baby giraffe trying to learn to walk on ice…. Things just don’t go well, rhythm and technical challenges occur that need weeks of drilling to overcome. 

Sometimes though this formula doesn’t hold true either.  In some cases some lifters are just talented and are capable of maintaining technique without constant practice.  These individuals won’t lose their technique because they have an innate level of athletic skill that inevitably lands them ahead at the end of a layoff. 

Some of my own experience with this in my early training entailed the first couple weeks after a layoff I would feel completely out of sorts with timing and technique.  Now I can take time off and come back and get my timing and rhythm back in as little as one session.  I can also take several months off (like when I tore my Achilles’ tendon in 2019 and still be able to lift about 65% of a one rep max at the first session back.  I attribute that to technique not strength in the movement.

Bottom line: don’t come out of this quarantine with any predetermined expectations for where you are going to be at strength or technique wise.  Everyone is different and will react differently to this unique time in our lives.  If you take the attitude that you will have an uphill climb when you come back but you will get back to your top stuff you will be way better off than someone that has the attitude, “I’m totally screwed by this quarantine and I may never get back to my top stuff.”  Take your time, trust the process and your coaches and I guarantee you will get back your old numbers and then some.


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