3 Keys to Deciding When to Rack the Bar

Kenny Roger’s knew he was using metaphor in his hit The Gambler. Of course, he likely was making a reference about life rather than training. That said, anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time under a barbell knows about the mental tug-of-war in deciding if you’ve got a lift made or not. To rack it, or not to rack it. That is the question. 

So, how do you know when it’s time to rack the weight?

There are so many variables in training from sleep and recovery to training loads, soreness, and even menstrual cycles that it can be hard to tell. While there is no real certainty that we can make any one lift (especially as we work closer to one’s peak potential), there are a few sign posts that can help guide the way. Here are three:

1.Training Age. Your training age should trend with your self-awareness in the gym. The specificity of knowledge around what you can and cannot do in the gym, should become more and more specific. For example, knowing you’ve made 205 for a double in the hang clean and one at 215 helps a lifter triangulate what loads to choose for singles in an every minute on the minute structure. 

2.In-the-Moment Vitals. In the age of Whoop bands and Apple watches, we have access to more information than ever. In the pre-digital age, a daily log of one’s resting heart rate at waking was a crude measure of readiness. If you’re tracking data, use the data to make great training decisions in the gym, but don’t forget the power of intuition based on how you feel in the moment. Do you feel light and energetic? Irritable? Slow? These are all factors when on the fence about making a particular attempt in the gym.

3.Bar Speed. The most helpful guide in the moment for most lifts is barspeed in the repetitions leading up to the attempt in question. If the bar is moving with generally good speed, uninterrupted it’s a good sign that there’s more in the tank as long as you’re making jumps of smaller and smaller increments. If barspeed slows or gets sticky in preceding reps, it’s a good indicator that failure is imminent. 

While there’s no perfect amount of information to guarantee a made lift, increasing awareness helps a great deal. Nothing beats a lengthy track record in the gym. That said you’ll need to be acutely aware and make note of your training attempts and loads in order to cash in on that experience. Being allouf won’t help when it’s time to call on your tenure to make key choices about attempts.

2/25/21 WOD


Find a 3RM hang power clean..

Then, complete 5 rounds for reps of:
In :90..
10 Burpees
Max Front Squats (95/65)
-Rest :90-


Complete 2 rounds for time of:
75 Russian Twists
30 Straight Legged Sit Ups
Max Toe-to-Hand
-Rest :90-

Then, complete the following for time:
200m Ru
10 Up Down Broad Jumps
20 Pistols
10 Up Down Broad Jumps
30-50 Push Ups
1000m Run
30-50 Push Ups
10 Up Down Broad Jumps
20 Pistols
10 Up Down Broad Jumps
200m Run


Floor Press 

Complete 3 rounds for quality of: 
10 DB Windmills (ea)  
12 Side Plank Ups + :30 Iso Hold (ea)
15 DB Goblet Squats

Then, AMRAP 16
50 Double Unders
40 Alt DB Snatches (50/35)
30 OH Alt Reverse Lunges (50/35)
200m Run