I’m writing this because as an athlete, it’s something I need to keep in mind. And as a coach, I know many of you need to keep it in mind as well. Here’s to getting better.
Today’s Front Squat session was objectively awesome. I managed 565×1 @8.5 RPE. This ties what I did last week — which is one of my best Front Squat reps of all time. Only twice have I gone heavier — and even then only 5lbs and 10lbs respectively. And those lifts ware a LOT slower.
So why did I feel bad about this?
Bad expectations. Apparently, I expected that I’d be stronger this week. What else is there to feel bad about?
You can see that I squat the weight and everything looks good. I remember racking the weight feeling like I did pretty well. Then I looked at the bar speed and it wasn’t what I hoped. But it exactly matched the same weight for the previous week. And if you look, you can see the disappointment on my face.
So what of these bad expectations? On one hand, I know in my head that expecting progress week-over-week is folly. But that must be what’s going on. Why else be disappointed here? The thing is, at the same time I do understand how I got conditioned to this expectation. The majority of weeks do see some kind of performance improvement and usually performance decline is understandable if you only look at recent training (or a lack of).
Let me get to the point… Whether understandable or not, bad expectations set you up to make bad decisions — or at least to be unhappy with decent results. It’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day or even week-to-week… making comparisons against your e1RMs from last week. And to some extent that’s good. It’s hard to create a consistent trend of improving strength if you aren’t consistently improving. But it can be a problem if it causes you to lose sight of the big picture.
It’s not so much the week to week performance that is important, but the overall trajectory. And if that’s trending up, then PRs and goal achievement are inevitable. Take a step back and see what your 3 month trendline or even 1 year trendline looks like. That can help put your expectations into context.