One of my favorite, underutilized, simple, and effective tools in the gym is a clear understanding of what the phrase ‘Max’ means.
‘Max’ means the maximum effort you can muster in a given set of exercise(s).
If it’s one repetition of a squat, it’s the most you can possibly lift with good form.
If it’s ‘max’ push-ups, it’s the most you can do well until you can do no more. Not 1 or 2 more (that’s sub-max, which I also use often); but zero more.
The thing about maximum effort that I suspect most people miss is that you must put it forth with your entire body, heart, soul, and mind, even when no one is looking.
‘Max’ does not mean ‘almost max, but, I’m going to leave 2 in the tank’.
‘Max’ means that you are going to test yourself, to push yourself past the point of discomfort and right to the point of failure.
It’s not every set or day that calls for maximum effort work.
But some days certainly do.