I’m still cringing, hours later, at what could have been a very, very bad thing this morning.
I think of having a spotter as being there to help in case I’m not strong enough. Earlier this week a spotter helped me when I just couldn’t get a weight up on a squat. My form was fine, I wasn’t making mistakes — my muscles were just done for the day after reaching a new max shortly before, and the weight wasn’t going to move on the second set, third rep at 90%. I didn’t feel like I was in danger though — Ryan just took the weight off my back and that was that.
Today was another matter. I was doing absolutely abysmally on bench. After laying off for a while due to shoulder pain, I was back at it this morning. Quickly growing deeply frustrated with my incompetence, I was struggling to make what Ben was telling me to do translate to my body’s actions. I’ve benched — not a lot, but enough to reach a reasonably respectable 80 pound max. But today I was completely at odds with the weight. Nearly every rep was wrong, wrong, wrong. And I couldn’t seem to bridge the divide between my brain and my body.
It’s so much more than being strong enough to move the weight. Being strong enough is only the beginning. And it isn’t enough if you’re not working the right way. Ben tried everything – I practiced with a PVC pipe, he replaced me on the bench and demonstrated. But nothing clicked. I at last managed to get some reps right. So I got more weight. I wasn’t counting, so I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was heavy, probably a new record. All sense evidently left my head at the excitement and anticipation, and I forged ahead, not focusing on getting set up and ready. The next thing I knew the bar was falling toward my face. I didn’t have time to react — I can’t believe how fast Ben reacted. It was going to crash into my head, and then it was gone, safely back on the rack. “What the HELL was that?” Ben demanded. I couldn’t even form a reply. Thinking he’d film a new record, he’d had Pete video thi attempt at 100. I didn’t want to watch the close call but I did. And it scared the crap out of me.
After a thorough (and admittedly well-deserved) verbal flaying, I got back to work. Whether it was for penance or in the interest of getting back on the horse, I’m glad he instructed me to do 30 reps with the bar. Focusing on completing each one correctly kept me from completely freaking out at what had nearly just happened.
It’s extremely humbling on many levels to screw up so badly that someone has to rescue you from having your skull crushed. It’s also infuriating to have failed so miserably. But rather than dwell on it, I’ll try to just be thankful that I wasn’t hurt, and work harder to do better next time. I got 90 pounds twice — that’s a 10-lb PR that I can be very proud of — and when I can learn the technique and get my form correct, I’m sure I’ll get 100.