“All weightlifters, I believe, share a similar background which signifies a rugged individualistic character epitomizing the hero or heroine. It is this common denominator which is a must to begin lifting weights you are truly capable of.” – Donny Shankle (calstrength interview)
I was training away from home last week, which, for Weightlifters, will understand can be a very difficult ordeal. Weightlifting is an elusive sport within the U.S., and finding the facilities to support the lifts, as well as their auxiliary counterparts, can be difficult to say the least. This is an absolute tragedy, but an article for another time. Many times I am resorted to visiting a “globo gym.” This one time I had to go to O2 Fitness. The type of place that has one squat rack, and the safety bars rise almost to your hips depending on your height. There are no lifting platforms, the floor may or may not be rubber. This one was not level and had a significant pitch… and also, of course, there were not rubberized weights, all iron. Even if the training session entails Squats, or some form of an Overhead Press, it is still difficult to train hard because you cannot risk missing or bailing the weight. This means that your potential, in that session, cannot be fulfilled. This isn’t about a fear of failure… it is about not being allowed to.
So, here is a conundrum: The program said to build to a 2RM Front Squat where each rep had a pause in the hole for 5 seconds. The keyword being, “max.” If I can’t attempt a weight that can possibly be a failure, then I’m not truly working to a max. Just as well, with the safety racks so high, I could only go to parallel, maybe. Anyone in Weightlifting knows that this is unacceptable. In this sport, the ability to break parallel is not only preferred, but necessary. According to the rules and the way the facilities are designed… I cannot train to potential. I am not allowed to burn. In order for an athlete to achieve their potential, especially where competition is concerned, they have to be allowed to push their limits, both in and out of competition.
The willingness to burn. That is my next goal and mindset for my upcoming competition in October: The Hookgrip Spartakiad. This will be the biggest, most competitive competition I have ever done in Weightlifting; bringing in lifters from all over the country and possibly internationally. My first competition was just about doing the Thing. Don’t worry about pushing your limits, setting PR’s, or competing with anything other than yourself. Simply get in there, do it, and learn. My following comp was about developing flow (https://onefootonestep.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/7-30-15-developing-flow/). Having got the initially terrifying feeling of my first competition under my belt, it was about designing triggers, cues, and harnessing energy to compete effectively. That was a success. All the while I was lifting weights that I knew I could hit consistently. Now… it is about pulling the trigger, and moving the heavier weight. My starting Snatch is now 15kg higher than before, and my starting Clean & Jerk is 5kg higher than other competitions.
There is always something an athlete must be testing in this sport. Now, I have to be willing to fail. In order to be successful competitively, you have to be willing to push weight that is a risk, because ultimately, it is about getting the best possible total for that day, really… no matter what your goals with competition are. If you are competing to beat someone else? Higher total. If you are competing against yourself? Higher total. If you are competing for clout? Higher total. It is simply about pushing the most weight that you can successfully do… and there’s really only one way to find that out… push the weight.
I have to be willing to fail. I have to be willing to Bomb Out. That is the only true way for growth and ascension in this sport. Pushing that envelope is how to achieve your potential. If you fail, then you have those lessons to dwell on until you succeed. If you succeed, now you go heavier. This is a sport that has true heroes, both male and female. Competitors that have pushed the very limits of what was thought possible in a given moment. Since the beginning of time all cultures have held contest for feats of strength, and respect is earned there. It is our obligation as strength athletes to contribute to this legend. It is our heroes, or legends, the ones that said fuck it, I’m going to push the limits and I don’t care who’s watching, I don’t care what happens… that transcended. It was the passion and the willingness to fail and sacrifice that put them there.
Eventually, in O2 fitness, I had to say fuck them. I put the weight on the barbell, racked it, and stepped outside of the safety rack. I didn’t care if I failed. I didn’t care what the consequences were going to be for me screaming or dropping the weight. I didn’t care who was watching or what anyone thought. Because it isn’t about any of them nor does it concern them. It is about the weight on the bar.