The other day I observed a scenario that is all too frequent.  I had programmed an athlete to perform 5 sets of 3 reps in the snatch.  I watched her snatch the first and second reps quite well only to narrowly miss the third rep.  She continued to perform a miss with a fourth rep and then a make with a fifth.  I asked her why she had performed 5 reps when I had asked her to do 3.  “I missed the third one so I did another one and missed that so I then did a 5th. 

This type of thinking is damaging.

The idea that you can repeat after a miss is entirely antithetical to the mindset of a weightlifter.  If you are competing and you miss an attempt, you’ve lost the attempt.  You don’t get to repeat the attempt.  You may get to repeat the weight (if you have one or two attempts remaining), but you don’t get to repeat the attempt.  It is lost forever.  You must develop the mindset that each attempt is precious and there are no do-overs.  This must be practiced and rehearsed in training.  You must approach training with the attitude that each rep causes a little more fatigue and therefore each subsequent rep is compromised. 

I have watched athletes perform countless extra reps because of missed lifts in the snatch, only to have no energy left for cleans and jerks. 

Let’s say I’ve programmed 5 sets of 3 in the snatch and Ms Do-over instead performs 25 reps instead of the specified 15.  This means that she is more fatigued before she even begins cleans and jerks.  The training is designed with a speed hierarchy in mind, and with a certain proportion of the reps devoted to each exercise in a specific sequence.  Ms Do-over has damaged the character of the session because of an unreasonable inability to deal with missed lifts. 

Where does this silly mentality come from?  Probably some of it is based in the thinking of those coaches who want athletes to do more reps as punishment.  The approach is not one that will perfect technique.  Any thoughtful coach should figure that out. 

Neural fatigue is very real and only insufficiently educated coaches would not be cognizant of this. 

All of the math that goes into good programming has a very real effect on the functional capabilities of the athlete.  I want my athletes to respect this and derive the benefits.