The quit button...
“The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.”
This quote from Olympic swimming coach Eddie Reese can easily be applied to bodybuilding.
In the early ‘90s I failed to place at my first bodybuilding show. This was, however, not where my relationship with weights and the gym ended. I re-assessed my strengths and weaknesses and focused on rather building up power for the game of rugby. Most of us are not competitive bodybuilders, but as lifters we often hear the term “to failure” in the gym. But what does to failure really mean?
Failure is not necessarily an end point. It can also be the beginning of something different, something new. In the gym, just like in anything in life, your mind would often tell you that you don’t have anything left in the tank. I believe you set your own barometer when it comes to failure.
When you’re cranking out reps, breathing hard and your mind races and tells you it’s time to quit, you can try and hold the weight in the middle of a rep and do a slow negative. You can also drop the poundage, wait for a minute to catch your breath and do a lighter set to completely destroy the muscle.
In the world outside the gym everyone is separated by class, income and reputation, but once you get under the iron all that goes out the window. This, to me, is the beauty of lifting. It affects the way you conduct the rest of your life. Lifting is, however, far from linear. In fact, at times you can feel as if you’re indestructible at the squat rack, just to get beaten by the mother of all failures when you deadlift.
It can be a wild ride, but isn’t that what life is really like anyway?
Often, the biggest roadblock we face is our self. I, for one, cannot claim perfection when it comes to training, but developing a love for what you do is a crucial element to assembling the best you that you can.
Failing gives us opportunities to improve in the future. Bodybuilding, as opposed to other traditional team sports, is often perceived as narcissistic and in a sense, it is. But I believe this is not necessarily a negative thing. Taking the time out of your day to lift is no different than meditating, praying or counting your blessings. Lifting is making the time to become a better human being. It might come across to others as strange. You routinely walk into a building, locate iron and steel and start to move it up and down. What is far from strange is how, after doing it for weeks, months and years, your life changes.
The gym gives motivation a proper arena in which to grow; one where it becomes the fuel that drives you forward and makes you lift even harder. The iron creates a stronger individual, both mentally and physically. When you change your mind on what you consider to be failure, you will see massive changes in where your quit button sits.
Here’s to an incredible 2018!
Go beyond failure!