Why EVERYONE Should Be Achieving Personal Records In The Gym

Chris hitting a 315 lb x 1 rep deadlift personal best.

Chris hitting a 315 lb x 1 rep deadlift personal best.

Here at The Facility, our core demographic is often referred to as “general

population” in the fitness and health industry. This title differentiates from the

small percentage of the coaching community who tend to work primarily with

athletes. Although we consider every one of our clients to be one of our athletes, it

is important to clarify that 99% of the individuals who walk through our doors are

everyday people who take their training seriously, motivated by and driven

towards achieving measurable progress relative to their effort invested on the

weight room floor. Curiously, our clientele base is extremely diverse. If anything, it

is defined primarily by personality type. Consider the reality that at any time of day,

any day of the week, walking through our front door can as likely provide you with

a sight of 65 to 75-year-old retired women working on their general strength and

fitness as it can university students aspiring for 300 lb. bench presses. You may find

business owners squeezing 30-minute training sessions into a chaotic schedule or

teachers, doctors, lawyers, emergency workers, skilled tradesmen/women

wrapping up a long workday with a quality workout. Some of our clients have

extremely defined, specific goals. Others simply understand the importance of

remaining consistent with the maintenance and improvement of their future health

and fitness profile. If you’ve followed our social media for any length of time,

you’ve likely noticed that we consistently share and showcase the incredible feats

of strength and the measurable milestones that our inspiring clients consistently

achieve. As of late, quite a few individuals have reached out, wondering why

exactly we place such an emphasis on physical output with clients, most whom

would argue don’t ‘need’ to train with such evident structure.

515 lb x 1 rep max deadlift personal best.

515 lb x 1 rep max deadlift personal best.

The answer is simple and does require further explanation to truly understand and value our rationale.

To quote Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell, “A personal best is always an achievement and in fact the only proof for correct training.”

To expand upon this statement, let’s consider the benefits of achieving measurable progress in the gym from a client’s perspective.

First and foremost, any achievement in the weight room that is measurably progressive is both

encouraging and empowering. Our clients have learned to trust in the beliefs and

methods of the staff here at The Facility in the fact that through patience and

persistence, they will ultimately experience a sense of satisfaction in overcoming a

Courtney with a 250 lb deadlift personal best.

Courtney with a 250 lb deadlift personal best.

weight that was once too challenging for them to safely lift. They will manage to

complete more repetitions with a weight that was once difficult for less repetitions.

They may learn an entirely new exercise that previous strength levels would not

allow. Through all of this, they walk away with a measurable degree of increased

confidence that carries into the real world. As well, consider these practical

advantages – that of decreased risk of injury when physically stronger, the

increased capacity to safely manage tasks such as moving furniture, carrying

groceries, or even pushing a car out of deep snow. We at The Facility truly know

the value of improved tendon and ligament health, greater degrees of bone density

and consistently elevated energy levels. All of this may be summed up in one,

simple statement: being stronger is essential in improving the quality of day-to-

day living. Being stronger is never a weakness. We’ve yet to hear any detriments

that go hand in hand with being stronger other than the reality that family

members and friends tend to call upon your assistance to move heavy objects with

greater frequency.

Michaela lifting 135 lbs for a deadlift personal best.

Michaela lifting 135 lbs for a deadlift personal best.

For further consideration is the importance of measurable progressions in order to

allow for both efficient and effective coaching in both the short and long term. To

paraphrase Peter Drucker, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” As is

unfortunately more common than it should be in the personal training world, some

trainers do not see the importance in tracking the exercises employed nor the

weights used or further the reps and sets successfully completed by a client. This is

worrisome. If this information is not readily available it dramatically increases the

risk of injury for a client. Misjudging a load because you can’t accurately remember

what weight they used last time or increasing a weight too dramatically because

you’re not certain how strong they truly are, are both common risks. They are risks

that trainers who neglect to diligently track this data inevitably face. Conversely,

instead of dutifully tracking data and measuring progress, they err on the extreme

side of caution and make everything much too easy to avoid the potential risk of

the two aforementioned scenarios. They do the same exercises almost all the time,

they rarely deviate from the same programming structure, they don’t progressively

increase the weights or if they do, it’s minimally at best and often infrequent.

Remember, as Louie said, “A personal best is always an achievement and in fact

THE ONLY proof for correct training.” This doesn’t state that there is only one way

to achieve a goal. Rather, it states that the achievement of a personal best is the

only way to ensure that the workouts you’re doing are actually making you better,

that they are improving your quality of life, that they are contributing to the development

of increased muscle tissue and driving the skeletal stress required to progressively impact

bone density.

Vanessa hitting a 296 lb Trap Bar deadlift personal best.

Vanessa hitting a 296 lb Trap Bar deadlift personal best.

Measuring greater physical capacity expressed in the weight room is an indisputable necessity.

What’s interesting is that it is extremely common to hear stories of gym-goers who

speak of 2 and 3 year plateaus that they’ve yet to overcome, individuals who have

been bench pressing the same 225 lbs. x 5 reps for the past decade or those who

seem to have an inability to successfully execute a more advanced exercise. Almost

always, this is a by-product of either one or both of two, simple contributing


Their programming is ineffective. This could be because it doesn’t drive adequate

stress or presents too much stress. This could also be because it doesn’t employ

adequate variety or because it employs too much. Confusing, we know.

Ryan 405 lb x 1 rep deadlift personal best.

Ryan 405 lb x 1 rep deadlift personal best.

It could also be because their recovery is inadequate. They might have the

programming nailed BUT their sleep, water intake, chronic stresses, quality of food

intake, etc. are not adequate for their current output in the gym.

Consider also the possibility that both their programming is ineffective AND their

recovery is inadequate. It’s not unheard of that both factors are to blame.

This is a strong argument for the importance of individualized programming over

time and further, the inarguable importance of measuring as many data points as

possible. The further along your individual continuum of strength you travel, the

more challenging it becomes to make progress. This is inevitable. Curiously, what

gets you from Point A to Point B relative to your increased strength will not

necessarily get you to Point C, D or Z. Different strategies, greater degrees of

individual exercise variation will need to be employed, changes in programming

structure and adjustments in training frequencies will have to be considered.

As professionals we take the measurable success of our clients extremely seriously.

On an individual level, our clients rarely have aspirations to be powerlifters or

professional strength athletes. What our clients do have is a desire to make sure

that both their time and hard earned money is spent on a service that provides a

progressive yield.

Exhausting clients is NOT progressively measurable.

Making clients puke is NOT progressively measurable.

Making clients sweat profusely is NOT progressively measurable.

A client making progress on a barbell lift IS progressively measurable. It’s also a

showcase of the clients’ discipline and consistency in the weight room and further,

a testament to the efficacy of programming.

Steve confidently surpassing the 200 lb Trap Bar deadlift milestone at 60 years old!

Steve confidently surpassing the 200 lb Trap Bar deadlift milestone at 60 years old!

Ben Graham