Failing lifts in the gym

I did a workout at the gym today, hoping to add 2.5kg to my 72.5kg squat from last week, but I couldn’t do it and I failed twice, letting the bar go on the safety rack. It was after the first time I failed that I realised I had to un-rack the plates off the barbell, re-rack the barbell, and then load the plates back on to make another attempt. I don’t remember the last time I had to do that, but it reminded me of the time I was working out near a guy who squatting some ~200kg, but didn’t put clips on to secure the plates, so the plates started sliding off as he was lifting, they all dropped to the floor, and he avoided injuring himself but had to set up all over again. Annoying, but very much a fact of life.

The program I’m doing is designed to get me used to maxing out and having heavier weights on the bar. Upon reflection, it’s funny—it’s no longer a terrifying thing, which means my trainer has done well in helping me break through fear—but as much as I believed I had this weight, as much as I hyped myself up listening to Violent Soho and as much time as I rested, I just didn’t feel like I had the strength to squat 75kg another time (much less two). I don’t think it helped that my back was a little bit sore from my workout the other day (deadlifts), so I do think it impacted how strong I felt today. I mean, it is just one workout, and I am really not the kind of person to dwell on the fact that my first workout of 2023 was not as good as I wanted it to be. But I suppose feeling really what it’s like to hit my limit is a lesson to be learned from.

A screenshot of a spreadsheet with two rows filled in, showing columns of weight and reps. The first row shows 72.5kg as the weight and 2 reps, with the second row showing 72.5 for 1, 75 for 1, followed by two instances of 70 for 1.
I should theoretically be able to at least another rep at 75… right…? 😔

I mean, I still shed a couple tears anyway, because the experience was frustrating. I think sometimes you think you’ve got it, and then you don’t, and it feels shit, or you feel like you just don’t have it in you to do it. I think that today it was the latter. I thought, how am I going to do a competition in front of people in the future when failing makes me so damn emotional? I dropped the weight back down to 70kg to finish my remaining two sets, feeling somewhat defeated, but above all, really quite exhausted and just wanting to get through them. (Also feeling massive guilt for being at the squat rack for 40 minutes and still needing to do bench press there.) Doing the 70kg was more challenging that it had ever felt before, probably because failing 75kg twice had taken a toll on my body already. But the weight still felt so much lighter, and it baffled me that an extra 5kg could feel soooooo fucking heavy in comparison.

I almost wanted to ask myself why I enjoy this kind of training. Well, as many powerlifters would say, the “instant gratification” and the fact that you can improve incrementally each week and see progress is why they like it. I can’t really argue with that. Training like this has taught me a lot more patience than, well, a lot of other things, I think. It simultaneously teaches you, firstly, that there is no quick way to get results, and secondly, if you put hard work in, you will be rewarded.

Normally I look back and try to see how far I’ve come but it was just difficult to care about as I was trying to get through the rest of my workout. As I’m writing this I can feel OK about it though. I think squats are my worst lift, but I have been doing better than I really could have imagined. 75kg is actually my max from the last time we tested. No point really thinking too much about what happened today. There is always next time to try again.

I’m blogging every day in January 2023, which is why this is posted just a day after my Hey 2023! post. Let me know if you’ll be joining in and trying to blog every day. 😊 The hashtag you can use on social media is #blogeverydamnday.

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