Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

Real v. Self-Imposed Limitations

by GEOFFN on September 7

Have you ever wondered what your true limitations are?

Have you ever wanted to really find them? I don’t suggest you do, but if you want to, compete in a sport. It’ll tell you a lot about what you think you can do, versus what you actually can do, and then you’ll have a map to follow in your training.

But what about after you’ve found them the hard way – by testing them too often and under the wrong conditions?

Maybe that’s happened to you – you’ve gotten injured, maybe badly, and you’re now “gun shy.”

I experienced this yesterday. (Of course you probably figured that out already since I’m writing about it…)

As you may know, I’ve spent half the last decade rehabbing injuries. That’s a long time for sure. Unfortunately, I think I may have become “over-cautious.” I don’t want to become reckless and nor do I suggest you do so either. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. But what about a periodic “gut check?” Maybe just a little test of the ol’ mettle based on what you think you can do now?

I stumbled upon this quite by accident yesterday. I spent the better part of the day between emails, faxes, and phone calls with my insurance company. By the end of the day, my aggravation levels were sky-high.

So what’d I do?

The only exercise I know of that is really a “cure-all” for me – the Back Squat.

Yup, I just got my pattern back last week – the old, strong pattern. So what I do yesterday? I tested myself on it of course! No, I didn’t RM or anything that stupid, but I did “gut-check” myself. As part of the baseline that tells me that I’m getting in weightlifting shape, there’s a certain load and volume in a certain time period that I can hit as the start of my pre-competition training. It’s the baseline of the baseline if you will.

So yesterday, I just said, “You know what, this is stupid. I’ve been training smart lately. I should be able to hit those numbers without even thinking about it, let alone training for it.”

So I did.

And I learned something.

I learned the following:

  1. My training lately has been exactly where it needs to be – it has served me well.
  2. My body is firing on all cylinders – I’m keenly aware of  all the right muscles that worked as I type this.
  3. That I have been conservative in my training – and it has helped me.
  4. That I had a self-imposed mental limitation – I didn’t think I was ready for that workload. But not only was I, it was of the highest quality and it surpassed my expectations!

So what’s the take home for us?

  1. Have a plan that you can follow that balances your goals with your current abilities and your limitations.
  2. Don’t “workout” – Train. Have a plan. (Did I say that already…?)
  3. Be confident enough to step outside your comfort zone every once in a while – set up some sort of test or challenge. I suggest it somewhat mirrors your training plan – don’t go run a 5K if you’re training for a powerlifting meet…
  4. Expect that your plan is working and then keep working the plan.
  5. Don’t set limitations on yourself – think BIG!

As for me, I’m still thinking big. My numbers are moving right along and if everything goes according to plan, I should hit some pretty big numbers – PRs by Christmas time, if not before.

What are you training for and have you set realistic expectations or self-imposed limitations?

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