By Zach Columbia BS, NASM
I grew up playing Baseball. In the game of baseball, you fail more than you succeed. A hitter who get a hit 3 out of 10 times is considered an All Star. Meaning they failed 7 times. Failure is a part of the game and it’s necessary to achieve success. Babe Ruth, one of the greatest hitters who ever lived said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” “Every Strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
For years I’ve been trying to increase my max bench. For whatever reason, bench press is like my arch nemesis. Regardless of how much I work at it, I can never get to what I consider to be a respectable number. There have been several occasions where I’ve been in the gym all alone working on my bench press. I’ve loaded up the bar and the set felt great. “Great,” I would think to myself, “Add a little more weight.” Next thing I know, I’m working on rep number three, stuck half way between my chest and the rack. Now I don’t know how much experience you have with isometric training, but you can’t hold that much weight at 90 degrees for very long. Of course, things start to look… let’s say, sketchy at that point. There’s no yelling for help, because there’s no one around. Okay, so I’ve dropped a few bars on myself and I’ve gotten stuck in a few tight spots… Maybe that’s not the smartest thing to do in the world, but I’m not afraid to fail in the gym.
Let’s stop right here; for all you dummies out there like me, get a spotter. You’ll save yourselves a lot of trouble. Now that we threw that disclaimer in there, let’s talk business. If you don’t fail in the gym, you’ll never succeed. If you’re too afraid to up the weight 5lbs because you’re not sure if you can do it or not, you’ll never see results. You should always be moving forward (Unless you’re pulling the sled backwards). The weight you use for a dumbbell chest press should continue to increase, your squat should increase, the time you can hold a plank should increase. Sure, you are going to fail, probably more than you succeed. But, just like in the great game of baseball, you’re going to be one set closer to success.
You see, our body’s hate when things are difficult. If pressing 20lbs over your head is difficult, your body will adapt, grow stronger, and gain muscle. As a result, that 20lbs will become easier and easier to press over your head. Eventually, 20lbs isn’t going to be enough to cause any adaptations and you won’t see any increases in muscle mass, strength, or fat loss. In other words, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
For those of you who are terrified of getting injured in the gym. Trust your coach. That’s what we are here for. If your form is bad, we’ll correct you. If you’re in danger of injury, we’ll stop you. As a coach, it is always appreciated when a client says, “I think I can go a little heavier.” The last thing we want is for you to get injured, but the next to last thing we want, is for you not to see any results. Your coach can only push you so far, ultimately the call is up to you. So, if you think you can go a little heavier, TRY!
If you try, but don’t succeed, don’t get down on yourself. There is never any shame in trying and failing. Maybe you’ll only be able to do 6 reps instead of 10. AWESOME! You reached a new max lift! That’s an accomplishment, not a failure. Going until you reach muscular failure, is exactly the encouragement your body needs to make physical changes. More importantly, pushing your body to that point is exactly the encouragement your mind needs to make mental changes. Failure in the gym leads to success outside the gym. So during your next workout just remember – Failure Is Always an Option, Quitting Is Not!
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