I really want to hit a 1RM of 225 lbs on conventional deadlift and 150 lbs on high bar back squat by the end of this year, but it’s coming slowly. Yes, it’s only May. I realize this. I’m at 190 lbs for deadlift and 129 lbs for squat right now, and sometimes it’s really rough to see others zoom past me in strength gains. I am not a naturally strong person. I remember what 85 lbs felt like sitting on my traps as I learned to squat. It was crazy heavy. It was taxing. It was so difficult for me. That was my 1RM when I started. It was only 85 lbs.

In 3 years I’ve only gone up 44 lbs on squat. I appreciate every single pound as a huge achievement for myself.

Over the past few years I’ve gone through long stretches without seeing much of a jump in strength, then a big one, then nothing again. Those jumps keep me going through the dry spells. They keep me motivated. I love the feeling of warming up with what used to be my max. It’s so satisfying because I know I’ve earned it through hard work.

Woman Lifting
I appreciate every pound added to a lift. You should too.

I’ve also come to appreciate the culture surrounding the barbell. I like running into familiar faces at the gyms I go to (yes, I go to more than one). I have friends who compete in regional shows. I have more leggings than jeans. I’m always thinking about my next gym session. It’s become part of who I am.

If you look in my Gravitus feed, there are recent PRs, yes, but they’re not for deadlift, and they’re not for squat. My last PR for deadlift was April 3rd, and for squat was March 25th. This might not seem like that long ago, but it is to me.

Woman in a bikini
A big motivator for me right now that has nothing to do with a PR is looking good on vacation.

If it gets to you like it does to me, then find something else to motivate you for the time being, and on your worst days, you can still enjoy warming up to what used to be your max. That never gets old. Things that motivate me right now are looking good on a vacation creeping up on me, improving my grip strength, and working on tempo. This is enough to keep me coming back, and it’s always changing. Focus on more than the PRs, and the gym sessions become exciting again, even through the longest PR deserts.

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Sarah Wagner

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Sarah handles all things marketing for Gravitus. An avid baker, she enjoys developing macro friendly recipes. She's been lifting heavy since 2013, and loves the barbell like she loves cute puppies.