I know all the good stuff about failing — mainly that you learn from your mistakes. It also makes succeeding that much sweeter when you know the pain of missing a lift. But that doesn’t make it any more fun. I hate failing. H A T E. I’m going to learn from what I did wrong today, but in the meantime I’m going to need to buy a new dress or something to cheer myself up. Not so much for missing one lift, but because that miss has rather smashed the confident high I was on after squatting 5×5 at 160 last week. 200? No problem I thought Thursday. Today? Not so much.
It was a fun and exciting challenge, even if it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. After benching 81 for 8 sets of two Susan and I were to warm up on squats with the bar, then we had 6 single reps to get as heavy as we could. If we missed one we’d have to repeat. What an awesome unexpected surprise — the chance for a squat PR!
We started at 95, then jumped to 135, which felt shockingly heavy. 155 didn’t feel as bad — maybe I was getting used to the weight. That was three. I did my fourth, not sure what the weight was, but I took it too slowly. Then Ben had me put on my belt for the fifth. I squatted it and stood up, but depth was questionable. Dammit. I couldn’t add weight for my last rep. I knew it was heavy, but it wasn’t anything I had to fight really hard for. I watched Susan do her fifth, and she got stuck coming up, unable to drive her knees out. How did that happen? I wondered. I was about to find out.
I got under the bar, tightened everything, stepped back and took a big breath. Down, low — really low — and drive back up. Then something weird happened. I got stuck well past halfway up. That’s ok, I’ve been stuck before and pushed through it. “You’ve got it!” Susan was saying. Ben was yelling to get my knees out but I couldn’t have pushed them out to save my life. I was trying to force them, but felt like I would tip forward if they were to drive out. I kept trying, both to stand up and to push my knees out but I knew it was no use. I wasn’t moving. The good news was I didn’t drop my chest — I held in position.
As amazing as the feeling is to rack the bar after a great lift, it’s awful racking it on a missed lift. It’s pretty rare that I miss a squat. Bench and deadlift I miss much more often and I can roll with that a lot better. But a missed squat I play over and over in my mind, trying to fix it.
That’s where having a coach is so important. Ben explained exactly what I had done wrong, not keeping my knees out as I went down, making it highly improbable that I could get them out coming up. And at this heavy of a weight, any little error of form like that can — and will, and did — make or break the lift.
We went on to do 7 sets of 2 at 143, a great exercise in getting low and working on popping up out of the bottom. They felt great.
So this is my buck-up to myself talk. One missed lift doesn’t mean I’m not strong. It doesn’t mean I won’t make my goals. It means I have work to do. Nobody said it would be easy. And after all, that’s why I like it.