Less than a week after I talked about my effort to do a  120kg squat, for one proper rep (i.e not cheating by quarter squatting)   I achieved it! It took months and much longer than expected but I did it!

Despite going to the gym for over 15 years it was one of those moments where I was tested and realised I still have much to learn.


To summarise the situation, I think of two statements that I have seen said in the lifting community.

“Strength takes time” which I first heard from Adam Pulman.

“You can’t go in the gym every week and give a PB – the only PBs I do are on the platform” which I can’t remember who said this thanks to the fickleness of lasting impressions that is Twitter.  But if you think this was you and you are a powerlifter with a beard, let me know.

Strength takes time

It was a great feeling to break through the plateau, it’s only 15kg, but if you’ve ever been there you know what I am talking about.

Do get there I really ramped up working on my legs and like a man possessed I was squatting nearly everyday – but with the pressure my body really felt it!

Normally I would be up for continuing heavy to maintain my result, but my knees felt absolute hell – I lift wearing what I call SSSS – shirt, socks, shorts, shoes – I don’t do use any support belts or knee pads because when I lift I want it to be all me.

You can’t go in the gym every week and give a PB

For the next few weeks I lightened the load – halfed it actually to 60kg and it still hurt!

By not constantly being in beast mode my body recovered and I worked my way up to my bodyweight doing 90kg for 15, an impressive feat for lifting in itself requiring lungs as much as legs.  By this point, I knew I was ready to go again…

I got my ambitions on big sights – I would do 120kg for three.

I eased into the squats starting off light to make sure my knees were fully warm for the pressure.  I worked my way up to 105kg what I previously called my ‘faltering’ weight (the maximum weight one can go to before they start losing form).  I did a solid, but heavy five.

By 110kg I felt gravity driving me into planet Earth.  I repped for three, with baby giraffe legs showing on the last lift.  I think I found my new falter weight.

After a generous rest, I hit 115kg.  That hard steel bar felt like it could cut through my shoulders.  I repped one, back down I went.  I attempted to pull myself back up but the momentum failed and for the first time since going for heavy lifts I hit the safety bars.

Thank god I wasn’t going ass to grass.

To get out I simply ducked myself to the floor, did the crawl of shame and de-racked until I could get the bar back into place.  It’s easy to be embarrased by these types of things at the gym, but I just remind myself no one gives a shit.

Strength takes time and once you have it, it seems to disappear quick without constant attention.

Next steps

From a squatting perspective, my next steps are to maintain by building endurance on the heavy squats (105kg – 120kg) with more reps.

Strength does take time – and I have dedicated over six months to improving my squat, which I’m content to have achieved – though this has been at the expense of my other lifts.

My current focus is on a 90kg bench press, which was set due to my recent PB of 82.5kg – a mere 7.5kg extra in weight to lift, but not to be underestimated.  I will probably be tied up during the Autumn/Winter months trying to break through to the next level.

One thing I have changed up since switching focus to bench is having a much better plan.  For many years I have just gone to the gym and lifted lots of heavy stuff targetting specific areas because I got to the comfort zone of knowing what I was doing.  Perhaps too comfortable.

I am hoping that by planning a bit more, I can see more effective results.  We shall see.

Do you have any tips for improving heavy lifts?  Let me know in the comments below.

And if you liked this article then please do sharesubscribe to my mailing list and join me on Twitter.

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