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Heavy is Relative: “There is No Spoon”

By admin | In Lifting | on May 7, 2013


Happy belated Cinco de Mayo birthday to Andri!!!

Jacob Cloud from 70’s Big recently posted a fantastic article about the Over-Warm-Up, a technique that is incredibly effective in tricking your body to complete a heavy work set. So much of lifting is mind over matter. The jitters you get when loading the bar with a PR weight; the dread you feel before stepping under a heavy set of 5 squats; the nagging memory of failing at this weight a few weeks ago. Often times your fate is sealed the minute you unrack the bar (if not before). If it feels heavy when you unrack it, well, your brain just cashed in and your body is going to pay for it.

Enter the OWU. Next time you work up to a heavy work set, perhaps when you are unsure if you are going to complete all 3 sets of 5, try setting your final warm up higher than your work set and do 1-2 reps at that weight. When you unrack and do your work set your brain may neurologically perceive it as ‘relatively’ lighter. This may give you the confidence to finish the set. Never pick a weight that requires maximal effort (ie a 1 rep max) which would exhaust you and sabotage your set.

For example: Your work set today is 185#. Your warm up squats may be:

  • 5 reps at 95
  • 5 reps at 135
  • 3 reps at 165
  • 1 rep at 200
  • 3 sets of 5 at 185

An alternative to an OWU rep or set is the Bar Overload. This method can be used to conserve a bit of energy but may be less effective neurologically. Taking the same scenario above, you can repeat the warm ups to 165#, unrack a 200+# bar and stand with it for five or so seconds. Re-rack, and complete your work set. At the very least, your body has felt the compressive force of a heavier bar.

Jacob details the OWU in greater depth in his article and applies it to the Texas Method as well as in competitions. Read the rest of the article here.

WOD 05.07.13

Front Squat 3×5 *

2 Rounds:
20 Wallball Shots
20 Pull Ups
20 Goblet Squats
20 Ring Rows**
20 Squats
2 Rope Climbs

*no burnout set
**can sub DB/KB rows

6 Comments to "Heavy is Relative: “There is No Spoon”"

  • Jacob says:

    May 7, 2013 at 7:30 AM -

    Appreciate the link, and glad people are finding utility in this article! But just so you know, my name is Jacob Cloud – Justin didn’t write this one. 😉

    1. Ruth says:

      May 7, 2013 at 8:18 AM -

      Ack! Much apologies, Jacob! The post has been edited! And thanks again for writing it!

  • Michael H says:

    May 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM -

    great find and post Ruth! Thanks got the tips Jacob!

  • Mike S. says:

    May 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM -

    I read this post when it first appeared on 70sbig and was going to inquire with Intrepid trainers. Can’t wait to try this today!

  • James Sutandyo says:

    May 7, 2013 at 1:30 PM -

    Wish I had tried this! I was doing something similar, doing 1 rep only 10#’s lighter just to get used to something heavy, but i’ll try going heavier instead.

  • Jake says:

    May 7, 2013 at 8:10 PM -

    Happy Belated Bday Andri!

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