Get a Win Every Time You Train

By June 25, 2018Blog

Let’s re-write a scene I’m sure you’ve lived a thousand times.

It’s the dead of winter, early in the morning. Not only is it pitch black as you tramp through the snow to your ice cold car, but it’s damn near glacial outside and the wind rips and the small part of your face that’s exposed.

You pray the ignition bites as you turn the key. It whines, but it finally takes as you grab your brush and scraper and get to work. Five minutes later, the car is marginally warm, your face is quite literally frozen and you put the car in reverse.

It’s time to head to the gym.

There are days when you enjoy going to the gym. You’re feeling fresh, looking forward to your workout and life is good.

Then there are days like today, where the only place you want to be is back in that warm bed, dreaming of looking more jacked when summer rolls around.

You can lie to yourself, but the truth is that more often than not, this scene will not play out, because you’ll inevitably stay in said warm bed, hit the snooze and barely make it to work on time.


Because there simply isn’t enough pulling you to the gym.

I’m sure your WHY is strong and you’ve found a good routine that seems to work, but some days, you just can’t find the motivation to get there – especially when the odds seem stacked against you.

Today I’m going to show you how you can use something that’s been ingrained in you for as long as you can remember to not only get you into that icebox of a car, but get you excited about the training sessions that lies ahead.

Learning From the Best

A few years back, I was lucky enough to visit  Movement Minneapolis. Owned by a couple well known in the fitness industry and home to a lot of powerlifters, this small, gritty, warehouse gym was like a mecca to me.

My girlfriend and I worked out there and afterwards, I was browsing through their merchandise, coming across a t-shirt with #preveryday emblazoned on the back of the shoulder. Knowing this was a powerlifting gym, I thought nothing of it – expecting it was another slogan that didn’t really mean all that much.

But that was before I knew how serious the people at Movement Minneapolis were about personal records and making sure they meant every single word they used in their marketing.

So below are a few lessons I’ve learned from them on how you can use your competitive spirit to bend the rules of what it truly means to “PR” and create a win every single training session.

WTF Is a PR?

For those of you that aren’t powerlifters, let me explain.

Powerlifting is a sport unto itself, consisting of absolute beasts who literally do everything humanly possible to lift more weight – competing in the squat, deadlift and bench press.

They diligently track every single lift, every single day – as you absolutely should be.

By doing this, they build their programs up, then taper off closer to competition. At the height of each four to six-week block, they work to improve their personal record at each lift, or hit a “PR”.

But I’m here to tell you how you can “PR” every single time you’re in the gym – simply by bending the rules and using your competitive spirit to get you excited to hit the training floor.


I want to take a look at an example training day. It’s Monday, so you’re obviously doing bench press, right?

So if you’re training to improve your 4 rep max bench press, your training log may look like this:

Monday, June 18th


215 x 5

225 x 3,2,2

185 x8

TOTAL TIME (working sets) = 12:30

Monday, June 25th


215 x 6

225 x 3,3,2

185 x 9

TOTAL TIME (working sets) = 12:00

How many PR’s do you count?

If we’re looking at PR’s in the classic sense of the work, I agree there are none here. You did not put more weight on the bar or hit more reps in one set and therefore – no PR.

But, I can count five PR’s if we bend the rules a bit.

On week two, you added a rep to your first set at 215 (1).

Then, you maintained your first set and added a rep on your second set at 225 (2) for a total of eight reps at 225 instead of seven (3).

On your back-off set at 185, you also added a rep for a total of 9 (4) and you completed everything in 12 minutes, shaving thirty seconds off (5).

That looks like a pretty damn good day now, doesn’t it?!

Why This Works For Athletes

You and I are cut from the same cloth. I know, I know, I’m one of those weird goalies who’re just a little crazy – but our brains work the same way.

Deep down, at the core of our very being, we are competitive as all hell and simply want one thing – to WIN.

We’re used to chasing W’s in our glory days and doing absolutely anything we can to get them. The competitiveness is ingrained in our DNA and courses through our veins.

So why not use it to our advantage?

Let’s take these results you posted and extend them over four to six weeks… You think your 4 rep max is going to improve on the bench press?

You bet your ass it is.

How To Count Your New PR’s

Here are the new ways we’ll keep track of PR’s, creating wins and positive feelings every single day.

First is the most obvious, putting more weight on the bar. If you add weight to the bar, you get a gold star.

But I’ve seen too many people blindly add weight every week regardless of how piss-poor their form becomes, only leading to injury and setbacks in training. So be smart.

Second, another obvious one. If you complete more reps at the same weight in your ‘testing set’, which would normally be your first set at your working weight.

After that we start bending the rules. Here are a few of the other ways we can track PR’s:

  • Total reps for the day
  • Increased reps on subsequent working sets
  • Increased sets or reps in the same timeframe
  • Same sets or reps in a shorter timeframe
  • Increased bar speed (if you can measure that)
  • The totally qualitative option of improved feel (i.e. reps feeling smoother, body feeling tighter and more efficient)

As you can see, you’ve got a lot to work with here.

So stop showing up to the gym like a zombie, pounding out the same old sets at the same old weights and hitting the snooze button anytime it’s not perfectly sunny out.

Find some creative ways to hit some PR’s, push it hard to earn them every single day and pat yourself on the back for not only improving every day, but for actually enjoying the process.

To your next PR,


Want to create more PR’s every time you’re in the gym?

Need some guidance on exactly how to do that?

You can learn all about that and more – like midset, nutrition and building a bulletproof body from me and my colleague, Emily in our Pain Free Performance Training Group. 

Click here for more information, then make sure you lock down one of the limited spots for #strongseptember, where it’ll be all about building pure strength.

If you want more exclusive content, access to lots of FREE shit, and to better understand the twisted mind of a former goalie turned fitness pro, sign up for the McHale S & C email list. Once you join the team, I will harass you with musings on hockey, lifting heavy shit, and fitting alcohol into your macros.


Gavin McHale

Author Gavin McHale

Online training and nutrition coach, retired semi-pro hockey goalie, and ex-skinny kid. Currently a beer league superstar, and lover of lifting heavy things, Gavin will help you reclaim that athletic, dead sexy body, and shrink your clothing budget. Because tarps are always optional.

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