“What is a day but a series of conflicts between the right way… and the easy way?” – The Grind

I was speaking with a coach on the subject of Pause and Tempo movements, especially pertaining to what we consider a real “max” effort to be.  Tempo and Pause movements require the body to be under a tremendous amount of stress for an extended period of time, all while testing your resolve, your discipline, to maintain the positions.  The sport and training methods of Olympic Style Weightlifting demand the most of an athlete or participant in this aspect, and many others.

During our conversation, I was toying with going heavier at one point, but decided to retreat and not let my back go into flexion, or, essentially, lose the discipline over my body and sacrifice form for weight.  You can lift more weight if you go into flexion… sure….  That’s one reason why I believe in self development through the barbell, it forces you into those positions, it forces you into making those decisions.

During a 3-pause Clean Deadlift (5rm), you walk up to the bar knowing that at some your heart rate is going to sky rocket, your entire body is going to be locked into a vice, you’ll start shaking like you have some kind of unmanageable disease, sweat starts forming over your body including your damn shins, and everything in the world around you is screaming to let go of your form, let your back go into flexion… just put it down, put the barbell down… it’ll be easier, the world will be less painful….

But will it?  Giving into flexion, giving into what your body wants you to do, eventually pays off to a deeper weakness.  It is a Faustian Bargain.  You are making a deal with demons.  Sure, you can lift more, but at what cost?  The cost will be your spine, your core, your joints, your lower back… eventually you will succumb to the easy way that feels stronger…. but really isn’t.  Letting go of your discipline lets the Crossroad Demon in, and, in the long run, will cost you everything.


Keep your shield up, be the warrior.  Find your starting position, take a deep breath – brace for the impact of the spear, feel the weight on your midfoot.


Then, begin the lift, keep your back angle the same, drag the bar up your shins, pull your knees back, feel your hamstrings engage – deflect the blow of the spear.  Your body is shaking at this point, you’re so close, and everything is telling you to quit early… don’t.


Pull your hips into the bar, keep your knees bent and in an athletic stance for the power position (this is the strongest part, just keep at it), let the weight shift to your heels, where your power lies, feel your quads join the fight, your chest become proud, your back vertical, keep that core engaged – Counter the enemy with your own thrust.  Do it, several more times… you thought one blow would stop a relentless adversary?

Step 3

You see, giving into the thrill of more weight, yet sacrificing your form, will develop structural weaknesses as well as a mental handicap.  By understanding that there is a long game here, you will ultimately become a more complete and disciplined athlete… which will yield a superior result when the time comes.  Understanding your body’s strength and weaknesses, and instilling discipline over them… that is the warrior way… and what is happening on that platform when you approach the bar?  A battle.