This morning I was welcomed at the gym by the following on the whiteboard:
“2 Deadlifts at the top of every minute for 12 minutes – 90% of 1 rep max”
After staring at the board for a moment and visualizing how my spine would look stuck to the ceiling, I asked my coach about it.
“That’s supposed to be 75% of our 1RM, right?”
“Oh, you mean 90% of our training max?”
“Nope. 90% of your 1 rep max.”
I gulped and immediately walked away to loosen up. As I rolled out a stubborn quadriceps muscle I replayed that one rep max in my mind: hamstrings straining, lower backbone striving mightily to keep its curve, me grunting for all I was worth.
It had been an unbelievable, gut-busting, near-impossible effort of which I had been extremely pleased. Now I was being required to pull close to the same weight for 24 repetitions.
Impossible. There was no way I could get it done. I peered about at my gym mates who had certainly seen the whiteboard and were thinking exactly the same thing. If they shared my feelings they were covering them well.
I seized a bar and started warming up my deadlift. Moments later I had the workout weight packed on the bar. I pulled with all of my might and the bar went up – slowly. I grunted and strained, struggling to hold my lower back curve and keep my weight in my heels. After what seemed forever I arrived at the top and locked out. Gratefully my fingers opened and the dreadfully hefty bar crashed to the ground.
“No way” I thought to myself “there’s no chance in hell I am going to pull that 24 times. I should back off and load a lighter weight to protect myself.”
However, I didn’t. I was too obstinate to take the weight off the bar. But the storm of negative thoughts kept coming.
“You’re going to injure yourself.”
“Your backbone is gonna blast out of your back and bounce off of the ceiling.”
“You’re going to need to give up midway through if you don’t decrease the weight.”
I vigorously put a stop to the stream of thoughts. If I started the training session in this way, I recognized, it was true – there was not a chance I would finish.
In order to have a chance of being successful, I would have to do a similar thing with this training session that I had done with a lot of extended and difficult metabolic conditioning workouts, or metcons.
The clock started to count down. “You will do this,” I said to myself firmly “this is tough but achievable. One repetition at a time.”
The training session began. I pulled. “You can move this,” I thought. I did. The weight rose. I finished the rep. I dropped it and started once again.
“Another rep. Let’s go.” I muttered under my breath. I heaved and the weight rose.
The clock continued ticking the first minute away and I kept up the chatter.
“Those were effortless. The remainder will be almost as easy. Protect yourself and your back will be great. Finish these and you’ll be way more powerful tomorrow than you believed you’d ever be.”
The next minute started. Two more difficult repetitions, but they got done.
The negative thoughts continued to try to burrow their way in, however, the optimistic chatter drowned them out. Two more repetitions down.
The minutes ticked by and at last the final 12th minute came. The last rep was a titanic effort but after crashing out 23 repetitions there was absolutely no way I was going to fail on the 24th. I locked out and dropped the bar.
Carried by a wave of positive thoughts I had been able to accomplish something that minutes previously I hadn’t believed was possible. One last thought entered my mind:
“I have to bear this in mind for the next time.”
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