“180 for reps.” That challenge from Ben Friday stayed with me all weekend. Today was time to see what I still had. I had a 180 squat – for a single – at the June APA meet. I want 195 at the USAPL meet in 2 1/2 weeks. And I’ve squatted less in the weeks between than I did in probably one good workout prior to the last meet. Did I still have it for one, much less two or three?
I dig a challenge though, and mentally prepared myself over the weekend, visualizing completing one, two, three squats at the heaviest weight I’ve ever done. The best quote I’ve heard related to any athletic attempt is
90% of this is mental. The other 10% is mental.
So I didn’t just think I would do this. I knew I would.
I woke up with the alarm and leaped out of bed, ready to go do it. I warmed up, even got a new PR on box jump, doing 30 inches. That’s very close to half my height. It was scary but with 180 for reps looming over me I scarcely thought about it, just jumped. But that was a good start to my workout!
I worked through my progression. The bar, 95, 115, 140, 160, strapping on my fabulous new custom-made red leather powerlifting belt at 140. Finally, a belt that fits between my ribs and hips and goes tight enough that I can push against it.
I paced the gym for the three minutes mandatory rest Ben gave me after 160. Then, without any ado, I gripped the bar. Looked up and ahead and swung myself under it. Over six weeks since I’d had this much weight on my back. Big breath and stand up with some oopmph. I waited for that magic feeling that tells me it’s not heavy and I’m going to make it. It was there. I carefully stepped back – right foot, left foot, stop. No more fidgeting, wasting energy on shuffling around. Big breath and down.
“UP!” yelled Ben. And up I came. Again, trying to go lower this time. UP! he yelled again. And I came up. A third time, down and UP, the command compelling me upwards. (Sometimes I think the power of a bellowed UP! or PUSH! or PULL! is what gets me through a hard lift.)
I’d done my three. But no rack command came, so down I went again, wishing as I did that I’d sunk lower, and on UP, rose more slowly, more shakily. “Cmon, one more, big breath!”Ben said. I gulped air like I was about to dive underwater and sank cautiously down. UP! came one final yell, and slowly, slowly, I rose with the weight. I’d done FIVE! My vision was a little dark around the edges and I felt rubbery and trembly, but I’d done it!
When I thought I wouldn’t sound shaky, I asked Ben how many were to depth. “Doesn’t matter,” he answered. I zipped my immediate instinct to argue that it did. “When you’re doing it for reps it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You went down with 180 pounds on your back and stood up. Five times.”And I did. I’ll take that. And I can’t wait till my next “UP!”