Recently, I was talking to a friend at the gym, and I heard “I want to end on a good note.” What the f*ck does that mean—end on a good note? Shouldn’t all training sessions end on a good note? Isn’t it all about how you look at it? I don’t understand people’s mentality when it comes to lifting. Maybe I'm just that much more aggressive than other guys in the gym.

So this friend came up to me and said that he had hit a PR deadlift of 630 pounds (I think). I said, "That's cool. How did it feel?"

He said that it felt good and he understood what I meant about hitting the right groove and it feeling so much easier. I said, "Awesome! What did you try after that?"

That's when I got the “well, I wanted to end on a good note.” I looked at my training partner Scott, and I must have had fire in my eyes because he started chuckling. I don’t give a crap if you hit a PR. Max effort day is max effort! You don't quit until you miss a lift on max effort day. Even then, I'll sometimes try that weight again. I can't for the life of me understand this kind of thinking. You got the lift—put more weight on! Why on earth would you stop there?! Just because you hit a PR? Well, hit another PR! What the f*&#!!

A few weeks earlier, this same friend was pulling off of blocks next to Scott and I. We were training squats. The friend tried a big lift and struggled for awhile but missed it. I heard him say, “Well, I gave it a good try.”

As you can guess, this also pissed me off. I said, “Well, maybe you need to man the f*ck up and pull it instead of giving it a good try!” I continued with, “Sometimes you say f*ck everything, reach deep, and just f*cking get the weight!”

He did try again and he got it. He commented something like, “That's why I love having you here, Chad, because you're always there to motivate us.”

chad aichs motivation aggression PLExp 090214

This kind of stuff should come from inside though. Doesn’t everyone have that inner voice screaming at them every time they even think about quitting? Isn’t that voice constantly yelling at them to keep pushing and keep getting better and constantly reminding them of their goal? It can’t just be me.

Max effort day means maximum effort given. That means you give everything you have to that lift. If you get it, then it wasn't max effort or it was a small miracle. If you got the lift, you can do more weight or, like I said, it was that one perfect time when the weight on the bar was the exact 100 percent of strength that you had. If you give it all you have and you miss the lift, you can be pretty sure that you gave maximum effort. That’s the whole idea of max effort day!

I also can't figure out people's issues with not wanting to fail on a lift. I've actually heard people say that they don’t want to get used to missing a lift. What the f*ck is that? I've failed at all kinds of lifts and I still hate failing more than you can ever imagine. I could miss a lift ten million times and I will hate the ten millionth one that I miss every bit as much as the first one I missed.

An aggressive person doesn’t learn to get used to missing a lift. He does learn that if you want to get stronger and meet your potential, you're going to miss some lifts. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs! Very rarely does someone make the first big PR jump that they take. It's a progression. Once I had benched 650 pounds, it was time to move on to 700 pounds. I still remember the first time that I got a hand-off with 700 pounds. I couldn’t believe how heavy it felt, and when I did try to bench it, it crushed me. I was pissed, but I did chuckle a bit because I knew that I had just had my ass handed to me. I also knew that I had only lost a battle. No war has ever been won without losing at least one battle.

That was just the first stage and motivation for me. Yes, I would've loved to hit that first 700, but the main goal was to feel it and get my central nervous system used to the weight. The second time I tried it a week later, it didn’t feel so bad, and I controlled the descent this time. I still missed the lift though. It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that I completed the lift. Lifters need to see down the road and understand that they'll have setbacks and they'll miss lifts. That's just part of the game. When you miss a lift, you should be pissed and you should also keep that anger in mind for the next time you try that weight. You should also keep in mind that every attempt you make is a step closer to making that lift. Strength doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without some failures.

chad aichs deadlift aggression PLExp 090214

So does getting a PR lift mean that you ended your training session on a good note? To me, it means you left weight on the platform or under the power rack, monolift, or bench. What's so good about ending a training session knowing that you didn’t do your very best? I don’t get it. Say you got that PR and jumped up 50 more pounds but missed it? To me, that's a good training session. You got a PR and you're that much closer to your next big 50-pound PR. You got a PR and made progress to your next PR. You didn't just get a PR and stop. If it's a case of wanting to end with good technique so that your body remembers it, the last thing you should do before leaving the gym is 100 (not all at once) perfect reps with a light weight. That will help build the correct neurological pathways for good technique.

Honestly, what's the big deal about a PR anyway? It's a personal record and all it does is give you another target to shoot for. I'm not saying that it isn't cool and something to be happy about, but a PR is just a step to achieving a goal. Personally, I've never given much celebration to an accomplishment when I know damn well that I can do better. PRs, and even world records, were just steps to achieving what I knew I was capable of. Yes, I'm proud of those records or championships, but when they happened, I celebrated for a couple minutes (really it was about 30 seconds) and then I realized that I could do more. I could do better. I wasn’t about to waste time thinking about what I just did because I knew that I needed to think about what I could do. It's that kind of aggressive thinking and high expectations you put on yourself that will help you achieve greater things.

For me, what is ending a training session on a good note? I think it varies with each session. For max effort, it's knowing that I went absolutely full max effort. For dynamic sessions, it's knowing that I did every rep as quickly as I possibly could and that I put my absolute amount of force possible into each rep. On recovery days, it's knowing that I got my blood pumping and helped my body recover from the previous day's session. Some days I come in and know that I'm starting to overtrain and I make myself do a deload or take the day off. That's ending on a good note. Let's just say that in every training session, giving all I can give is ending on a good note.

Every time I do what is the smart and right thing to do, even if it isn't training that day, I ended that session on a good note. I don’t judge a good note on a PR or on one great lift that day. I think long term and I expect the very best out of myself.