#1 Biggest Mistake with Getting Stronger

Training is a long road.  No matter when you first picked up a weight, if you just started training or have been training for years, there is no quick fix to getting stronger.  Slow and steady wins the race. Day in and day out.

Obviously, this isn’t sexy and isn’t what you wanted to hear.  The majority of us train with a goal in mind. Whether it be to look better, continue to get stronger for a meet, or to be able to be more resilient to the demands of life, having a goal is key!

As you continue to get stronger and put more weight on the bar, there is nothing cooler than lifting a weight that you have never lifted before!  There have been times in my life that the day I hit a “PR”, “personal record”, or personal best, the day is great!

Far too often, athletes or clients will continue to try and hit a new PR frequently.  This just isn’t reasonable if you have been training for any length of time.

PR’s are easy to get if you just started training, but continuing to try and hit a new PR every training session is not a reasonable goal to have.

The #1 biggest mistake that people have when trying to improve their 1-rep max is continuing to test their 1 rep max!

For example, if you have a 400lb deadlift, the biggest mistake you can do is attempt to break your 1-rep max of 400lbs every training session where you have to deadlift.

This can lead to injury, frustration, and staleness in your training.

Instead of continuing to strive to break your 1-rep max every training session, there are more feasible ways to work towards improving your 1-rep max.

1. Train Submaximally

This may seem counterintuitive, but training below your max can be a great way to improve your 1-rep max.

Think of it this way.  If I want to build a building that is 300 feet tall, would I be better off with a narrow base or a wide base?


The wider the base, the taller the building can be built because the base is able to support a higher structure.

This can be analogous to improving a 1-rep max.  If you have a small training base (time under the bar, experience performing a specific lift, years of experience training), this can significantly impact your progress in attaining an improvement in your 1-rep max

With that being said, how does one improve their training base?

Well, one way to improve your training base is to train submaximally.  A very effective way to train submaximally is to train in the 60-90% of your 1-rep max for weight.

For example, if your max is 400lbs on the deadlift, training between 240 lbs and 360lbs can be a great way to train submaximally and increase the size of your training base.

You can perform multiple sets and reps at a lower percentage such as 60-70% or you can perform lower rep sets for smaller or larger sets at a higher percentage.

After performing heavier weight sets for fewer reps or lighter weight sets for higher reps, this can help to build your training volume, time under the bar/bar in your hands, and in turn build your training base and make hitting a PR that much more feasible in the future!

Andrew Millett