Way too often, we allow our doubts and fears to rule our lives. We never try the things we should or test our strength because of doubt and fear of the unknown. The gym is one place that we allow this to happen a lot. It is good to listen to your body and know when too much is too much, but if we never try, how do we know what we can do? One of my favorite things to see is what I call “accidental strength”. The moment when someone lifts something, thinking it is lighter, then realizes it was heavier than they have ever lifted. People are able to do this because they do not have the thought that it would be too heavy, so no doubt or fear guides their abilities. Instead, with confidence, they lift it.
This shows how much your mind affects your ability. With confidence, we are able to do a lot more than without it. I understand you can’t go into every session 100% confident and therefore lift anything you put your mind to; there are things that are going to be too heavy, for now. However, if we do not try, we will never know our strength. If we never push ourselves, we will never know our potential.
I decided to write this because more often than not, members come into the gym with their lists of “cant’s” ready to go. Their running list of items they can't do and items they'll “never be able to do”. When we push and ask why they can't do something, they rarely have a valid answer. Most likely, they haven't even tried. Instead, they have allowed their doubt and fear to rule and therefore have a pre- determined notion that they can't. It is time to change that. It is time to start trying and understanding your strength and potential. We so easily encourage others but lack the ability to encourage ourselves.
I write this not only because I see it as a coach, but because I have reaped the major benefits of trying and believing in my own strength. One goal that I accomplished was to press the 24kg bell. I have been asked how I trained to hit it, what was my program? I don’t have a great answer, only that I pressed a lot and just kept trying. The biggest piece of that sentence is I kept trying.
I have learned over the years how important just trying is. I need to try things that scare me, that seem daunting and that are outside my comfort zone. Everyone will have their way of getting themselves to do this, but for me, it is to “worse case scenario” it out.
With the press as an example, I understood where I was currently at with my strength. I knew a 1 to 2 bell jump wouldn't be crazy. I also knew I understood the movement well enough to execute it. Then, I “worst case scenario-d” it. What is the worst that would happen? It would not go? And if that happened, would I be worse of an athlete, a trainer, a person? No, I would just not be an athlete, trainer or person who can press the 28, yet. However, I would be the person who tried, who understood a little more after trying why it did not go, who would work hard for a little longer, and who would try again. And if necessary, again. What I was and am not, is the person who won’t even step up to the bell and try.
There were, and still are, things I never thought I could do. A big one being the pull-up. Just today, to see what I could do, I added 10lbs to my belt and knocked out 4 pull ups, with confidence. 3 years ago, I left a session of flexed arm chin up grip hangs for 15 secs each set. I couldn’t move my arms for days. Today, I can do weighted pull ups. Had I listened to my little voice in my head, I would still have no pull ups.
Other things that had I not tried for fear of failure or just fear, that I would have missed out on:
· Seeing New Zealand - what was I scared of? Traveling alone, being uncomfortable in hostels, getting home sick. Reality - I went and it was the best trip of my life.
· Going to SFG Level 1 - worst case scenario - I would fail, be embarrassed, waste my money. Reality - Best thing I ever did.
· Leaving MIT - Worst case scenario - I would fail as a trainer, have to move home with my parents or go back to MIT. Reality - We all know how this went.
· Biking Iceland with 2 people who I hadn't known for many years and a complete stranger. Worst case - a lot of things. Reality - amazing trip, new found understanding, and love for what your body can do. Memories forever. Some PTSD when I see a steep hill.
· Iron Maiden - worst case scenario - I would fail in front of 100 people and be embarrassed. Reality - I failed in front of 100 people. People commended me on it and I found out how awesome it felt to try something so hard that I had worked hard for. I will be doing this again. Currently, worst case scenario is failing for a 2nd time, as an assistant, as a level II SFG instructor. Best case, I hit it.
So why I am I writing all this? Just to tell you how confident I am? Definitely not. But because I am frankly really sad and tired of hearing people start with their “I can't, I’m not, I’ll never." Instead, let’s say I can, and I am working on xxxx. I want to hear about people trying new things and finding how much they CAN do. Who cares if you don’t hit a PR or even if you completely fail. Sit back and really ask yourself what is the worst thing that will happen? Again, let’s not apply this “try everything” mentality to things stupid or unsafe, but to things you know you understand, can do and be safe with. If you try something and fail, will it make people like you less? Will you be a worse human being? Worse partner, parent or friend? Almost definitely not. What if it does happen? What if you hit the PR? What if you take a trip of a lifetime? If you never do, you will never know.
Now, let’s take this straight to your training. Next time you go to the gym, remove the negatives from your mind, think about how far you have come and try to do something big and strong for YOU today. Maybe that comes in the form of 1 more rep, a bump in bell size, or a few more seconds of a plank or hold. Try to be better today.
If you are like most humans, including me, being positive is not going to come easy. Much like your body, the brain can be trained; you can be trained. Each day, or training session, try to speak more positively about yourself and to yourself. Each time you say you “can’t” or you “won’t ever be able to do” something, try to think of a positive thing to counter it.
There will be days that you want to have a pity party. Go for it. However, let it be a day or a session or whatever, but the more you think of how strong you are, the more you will be strong.
Go out, lift some heavy shit, high-five someone who is just doing their best as well, and cut the crap. We are all just trying to get the most out of our sessions, days and lives. Screw not trying.
"The biggest failure you can have in life is not trying at all." - Emil Motyck