I’m talking to myself. Today was max reps on a 160lb squat, just the kind of challenge I love. How far can I push myself? How long can I go when it gets really, really hard? I was lucky to have a cheering section. I swear, having people yelling — it could be anything — helps me keep going. Sara and Driz were yelling for me as I squatted (to depth!) and rose 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and it got hard, 7 when I began to think about being done, 8 when I had to roar and my face went blood-red and I strained like I see the big, massively strong lifters do in their videos.
I paused, waiting to see if Ben would say to rack it. He didn’t. I was tired, and it had taken what felt like everything to stand on that last one. Somewhere in my mind floated Ben’s words before I got under the bar, “You’re going to failure. I want to have to take the bar from you.” I told myself what I do when it gets heavy: Just bury it — Ben’s there if you can’t stand up. But this time it wasn’t as a reassurance. It was like permission to not get up. I squatted, and made at least an effort to rise but my knees were in and I was just so tired and I knew Ben would take the bar if I didn’t move it. And I didn’t. I shook my head as Ben took it. He said I could have gotten it if I hadn’t gone soft in the bottom. “I got tired in the bottom,” I said. It’s not going to get me anywhere to make something up. That was all there was to it. I got tired and I gave up.
As thrilled as I was with my number — 8 is pretty freaking good for 160lbs — I was disappointed that when it really counted, I didn’t give it my all. If it feels like that when it’s 200 pounds you can be damn sure I’m giving it my all, so I shouldn’t have given myself permission to fail. I should have kept pushing and kept pushing and trying with everything to stand up. I don’t know if I was truly strong enough to have done it, but I should have tried harder.
But I’ll take it as a lesson. And I’ll be proud of what I did accomplish. It was a great workout — I also benched 95lbs for 5 sets of 2 with a pause at the bottom on the first rep of each. Honestly, when I saw that on the board I thought he was crazy. My max is 105. I’ve never attempted anything like 95 for 5×2. But I found that sweet spot that is just on the edge between possible and impossible. I had to squeeze the bar with all my might and it moved slow, so slow, and I had to focus every moment on doing it right, but I did it every single time and I was so proud. That feeling of pushing yourself, and making something happen that seems at first glance will be impossible is probably the thing I love most about lifting. I’m glad I followed that squat with this bench because it rekindled my confidence in being able to push myself … so I know I will do it next time.