How to Reach Your Max


Men's Health |

Let’s ask two crucial questions: How do you reach true peak performance and how do you know when you’ve arrived there?

The authors, athletes, and academics all have different areas of expertise, but they all described similar paths to an all-out effort.

No matter what area you want to focus on as you work toward your max—strength,endurance, or appearance—your process will include the following elements.

Preparation is the key to many successful outcomes and this is no different.

It has to be something you’re passionate about- You’ll play a price for a true max, even if you are never injured, and even if your training expenses fit easily into your budget, an all-out pursuit of a fitness goal is more than a hobby. It eats into your work time, family time, and leisure time.

“Sport is selfish,” McCormack says. “Whether you’re running or powerlifting, you’re self-obsessed.”

You’ll bore friends and co-workers with stories about workouts and races, and you may even put a strain on your relationships at home. If a max isn’t worth that price, you aren’t likely to achieve it.

Plan to pursue it for years, not weeks or months- “You can show big improvements in the first year or two,” Coyle says. “You can improve 10 to 20 percent.”

Coaches call those “newbie gains.” Only when you’re struggling to improve 1 or 2 percent a year are you anywhere near a max.

 

Training is the next step…

Work with people who know more than you do

The best athletes in solitary sports like running and powerlifting often have mentors who won championships or set records.

For most athlete’s, training with a champion is not realistic, even if there’s one nearby, a pro might not have the time or interest to work with someone at that level. But your can certainly find a local gym that specializes in whatever you’re pursuing, or a running, cycling or swimming club you can join.

If even these options are impractical, there’s always an online community or coaching programme you can join. Your knowledge and skill led you to where you are today; you need something else in order go beyond your current level which could be another base of knowledge or point of view.

Keep in mind that you don’t know what you don’t know about reaching your goals until you spend time around people who’ve already achieved them.

 

Find the right programme and then stick with it

Refrain from being a programme hopper, as you will fail. When you see results because it’s a new program, and then it starts to fail and you tend to jump to the next program, without really achieving the results you should.

Understanding your weaknesses is vital as well, just like Superman had to know his kryptonite; you should know yours as well. It could be external, like a particular exercise or training method.

Or it could be a temptation, something that breaks down your willpower rather than your muscles or joints.

 

Lastly, focus your workouts.

If you saw a triathlete, a bodybuilder, and a powerlifter working out in the same gym, their exercises and techniques would be as different as their bodies. But those are merely tactics. Their strategies might be identical.

 

Performance is the third key to reaching your max.

Pick your moment

If its max effort in strength you’re after and you can pick your own starting time, go for mid to late afternoon. That’s when your body creates the perfect circumstances to excel. Your core temperature is highest, blood flow to your muscles surges, and your nerves fire faster.

Your testosterone level may also be more responsive and rise with exercise, but for endurance, though, air temperature may be more important than your body’s readiness.

Grade yourself on a curve

Performance is always circumstantial; your max effort might not look like a max on the scorecard.

An all-out effort in crappy weather might be the high point of your career, no matter where you finish or how long it took. If you’re in a competition, there’s always the chance someone else will hit his max on your best day- potentially pushing you out of the winner’s circle.

Only you know what went into your performance, and what you took out of it.

Wait before evaluating

A true max is evident only in retrospect. The longer you pursue something, the more opportunities you’ll have for an all-out effort. What you once thought was a great effort, possibly a personal record, but not your best.

The reverse is also true: What you thought was just a PR may turn out, in retrospect, to have been your true max. You won’t really know until you start to go backward.

 

A True Max

Yes, there is something as a true max; it’s not always a win. But it sure as hell makes you a winner.

 

– Alice Paulse