For those that know me, they will know of my love of powerlifting and how much I can babble on about it for hours at a time. But in all seriousness, powerlifting has taught me a lot about coping with all of the unpleasant things life can throw at you.
Powerlifting is a sport where you perform the bench press, squat and deadlift for a single repetition lifting the heaviest weight you can. The squat (which I will focus on) is where you put a weight on your back, sit down and then stand back up. Couldn’t be easier right?
What they don’t tell you is about how it feels to approach the bar, looking at the daunting weights with every demon in your head telling you to stop as you will fail. Waiting a few mins whilst your brain makes up every excuse under the sun for why you shouldn’t lift that weight.
So you step up and un rack the weight. It feels heavy on your back. Your knees are bursting and those demons appear again and tell you that the only reason you made the lift last time was luck or you cheated. Not because you earned it.
You fight through, walk back into position, plant your feet, take a deep breath, brace your core and sink into the bottom of the squat where you have a split second to react. Demons return - “dump the weight, dump the weight you will never make it”. You fight through, bite down and give everything you have to drive that weight up. Done.
I can’t help thinking about how much the simple act of squatting a big weight has taught me about coping with challenge in all aspects of my life.
When ever anxiety creeps in. When doubts come knocking. When imposter syndrome strikes and I feel the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I approach it as I would the squat.
don’t worry about how much weight is on your shoulders. It’s irrelevant. What matters is consciously making the choice to face it head on.
Accept the weight on your shoulders. It will feel heavy but trust in your skills and the people around you. Know that you will find the strength you need when you need it. You are not alone in carrying this weight.
Take a step back and place your feet firmly on the ground. This is where your strength starts from. Being grounded and living in the present. Not living the past or future. Truly feel the moment.
Take a deep breath and brace your core. Ready yourself for change. Change is inevitable but having a strong core will give you the strength to carry anything
Take responsibility and embrace the weight. Don’t fight against it. Move with it. Work with it.
When you are at the bottom there is only one thing you need to think about. Literally nothing else matters. STAND UP.
You will not always make every squat, bad days will happen, life happens! But did you fail the lift? or did you learn exactly where your weak spots were hiding so you can improve them? Just like in life, when things don’t go to plan, you can’t change what happened but you can control how you view it. You can choose to view the situation in a way that will help you or hinder you. It’s no ones choice but yours so make it a good one.
To the coaches in the gym and out of the gym I’ve had the privilege to spend time with over the years - thank you.