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The week before the last had been a total disaster. Last week I have not only done some progress, but actually hit a number of PRs. How can that be?

The definition of “record” is an unsurpassed measurement. Nobody said it had to be a max-out (the maximum effort movement at any lift). Seen under this light, a personal record is actually the most useful tool to measure the progress of your chosen training program.

This is absolutely not new: I guess most great coaches I know have already stated that one way or the other, starting with Louie Simmons, who insists all his lifters hit PRs every single training session, to Brandon Lilly and Paul Carter. It’s an old idea, it’s out there, everyone should at least take a few moments to think about it and maybe incorporate it as a perspective on his/her own training.

I have. Actually, for years I had intellectually considered it. In practice, I am living this outlook on training to the fullest now. As long as I am focused and training in the only sense I acknowledge as true practice of the noble art, I can identify these “little PRs”.

One day, it was the first time I did double rep overhead squats with 60kg/132lbs. Sounds pretty stupid and mediocre, but it was a PR: I used to do OHS at the powerhouse, where I can’t let the weight drop. So I only did it real light in order not to lose balance. Never hit 60kg before.

The other day it was cleans with proper technique. I had actually clean and jerked 72kg/159lbs before, but what a mess. If you ask any decent powerlifter: “look, here’s a loaded bar, I want you to put it over your head any way you can in two phases”, he or she will accomplish the task. It will be ugly, filthy and messy, but the weight will end up there. Doing it with proper weightlifting technique is a whole different ball game. So, last week was a PR: first proper technique clean with 65kg/143lbs.

In the end, life is mostly about little PRs. We have very few big PRs in a lifetime. One doesn’t have an infinite number of children, doesn’t publish hundreds of really relevant things, doesn’t lift an all time world record weight every year. One doesn’t always manage to say the right thing to one’s daughter when she’s rightfully upset with important matters, doesn’t save one’s mother from being abused by hospital bureaucracy every week and doesn’t manage to finally conquer some level of order in one’s financial life when one is a chronically disorganized person.

As Ellie’s father used to say in Contact: “small steps, Sparkie”. Small PRs.