How to Survive Test Week
Written by: Coach Evan
We’re coming up on the end of our training cycle. For those of you who don’t know, our cycles are 8 weeks long starting with one week of testing new movements/lifts/workouts. This sets up the foundation of our strength work and conditioning work, which takes up the following 6 weeks. The 8th week is a retest, an exact copy of the first week to see how we’ve progressed. I hear often that test weeks produce anxiety for many athletes at Derby City CF. Here are some tips that will help you do well during the retest week and future test weeks.
1. Don’t change your routine. Your body is used to how and when you perform, and changing things will throw it off. We want to put ourselves in the prime conditions for testing. Unless your routine involves poor sleeping and eating habits, stick to the normal routine. If your routine does involve the above, maybe now isn’t the time for a big overhaul, but it’s time to start thinking about making those changes.
2. Don’t get hung up on a number or a time or certain number of rounds/reps. Our biggest obstacle is almost always our mind. Our bodies are capable of far more than our brains usually allow. Case in point, for a while I was stuck at a 295# back squat. 295 would be nice and smooth, 300 would be failure. Every time. Until Coach Slater loaded my bar for me one day without telling me what he was putting on. I proceeded to squat 305 and then 310, almost getting 315. I don’t suggest that kind of psychological trickery all the time, but the following is something I do almost every day.
3. Envision your lift. When it’s time for the big lift, tighten your belt, chalk up your hands, walk to the bar, look forward, and then close your eyes. See yourself performing the lift. Go over every minor detail. Feel how the bar feels, how the weight moves, how your muscles react. Imagine that perfect drive off the floor; the smoothest sweep into power position. Envision the perfect lift. You know what it looks like. You now know what it should feel like. Open your eyes, tighten down on the bar, and lift. No extra thinking, no pausing after getting ready, commit to the lift once you grab onto that bar. If you aren’t ready, or you screw up your pre-lift ritual, that’s ok. Start over and don’t go until it feels right.
4. It is not do or die. All that being said, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Enjoy moving your body in ways it was meant to be moved. Enjoy expressing athleticism and beauty of movement. If you fail a lift, evaluate and try again. If you keep failing, you are not a failure. Testing requires our central nervous system to be in prime condition. Just because it’s test week doesn’t necessarily mean your body is ready for test week. If you do worse on a workout it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less fit, especially if you put in the work. Not everything will be perfect, and life and training goes on. There will be better days. Enjoy those good days.
5. Last but not least, enjoy the air of competition and camaraderie! There’s nothing wrong with a shout of joy after hitting a PR. Ring that PR bell. Scream for your friends, encourage strangers, run and jump around. Have fun. What is all of this if it’s not fun? A boring class can be the difference between a PR and a failed lift. You can make that difference.
Test weeks can be stressful, but they can also be fun. Let’s be good accountability partners and make sure everyone shows up and let’s have an excellent week of fitness.