The Jungle

Failing like a Phoenix


Failing like a Phoenix

* * * * *

-Horace Buchannon, subject expert

“I get knocked down. But I get up again. You ain’t never gonna keep me down.” -Chumbawamba

Under the umbrella of “constantly varied” in our sport comes the act of lifting really, really heavy for not many reps. Then resting a bit. Then doing it again. This is a modality that we share with the plethora of ancient and recent strength sports.

Let’s dive right in, here: you’re going to fail. It’s part of life, it’s part of lift, it’s part of love. But long-term success or stagnation is determined by what you do with and after these fails. This article will focus of the “lifting” portion of your shortcomings, but if you’d like to chat about the other two, I have more than my fair share of experience there and my door is always open.

Now, take this task in which the only goal is maximal weight, and set a bunch of athletes to it- who think that “hard work” means “missing 13 attempts in 30 minutes”, and we have a gains train that’s trying to climb a hill on greased rails. There’s all sorts of reasons for failing: maybe you’re not strong enough, maybe your technique sucks, or maybe… JUST MAYBE… your head game is off. The first two- that’s your coach’s responsibility. Listen to that individual. The third, well, that’s all you. No one else can determine your mentality and focus, but many athletes are unaware of how to win the battle between their ears before they win the war with the barbell.

Listen to Papa 2POOD, and glean the mind of a winner.

Situation: you just failed a lift. It was a 1RM, you came close, but the sweaty dance shared by your body and barbell was just slightly off sync. The rubber hits the platform, and your mind sinks into a black chasm of despair for an instant before plunging into a fiery lake of rage. I can tell you right now: your next lift will not be beneficial. You’ll probably miss, but even if you hit, it won’t be because you lifted correctly- it will be a wild, adrenaline-filled convulsion that manages to fling the weight up on a bar path more convoluted than a Rube Goldgerg machine. Completing a lift like that is a bad thing- it teaches your body/CNS that this motor pattern is viable.

Situation: a winner just failed a lift. It was a 1RM, but the mechanical precision normal to the athlete took a slight miscalculation, and the weight ended up in an unexpected place. The rubber hits the platform, and the athlete walks away, replaying the lift mentally- only as many times as it takes to determine the cause of the failure. Then it is forgotten. Forever. The mind then begins to visualize a good lift in its entirety. The athlete does not focus on a single correction, leaving the subsequent lift venerable to either over-compensation or any number of alternative shortcomings- No, the mistake is forgotten, the next lift is a blank canvas, and must be perfect from approach to lockout.

An interesting point to be made is that the winner treats a successful lift in the exact same manner. Win or lose, no lift is perfect and there are always improvements to be made.

Failing a lift is part of the process. The important part is your reaction to the failure: are you going to perpetuate your imbalances, over-compensate and create new ones, or are you going to learn from your mistakes and eradicate them? It’s all between your ears. An egotistical, misguided weekend warrior, or a cool, calculated winner. Decide what to be- and go be it.

Coupon code as a thank you for reading: PHOENIX is for $5 off until March 10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *