A Little More than You Think

I went to the gym this morning to pump some iron.

Sorry, I had to pause for laughter there. It sounds so ridiculous coming from my mouth. But I did in fact go and lift weights this morning. I’ve been working on some basic barbell lifts like back squats and deadlifts, and I’ve been increasing the weight on all of them a little at a time. But my deadlift had kind of stalled.

My nephew (who is my trainer in the sense that he checked my form to make sure I wasn’t doing anything crashingly stupid/likely injurious and sometimes answers questions by text, but is not my trainer in the sense that I pay him exactly zero dollars for his services) started me at 135, because we weren’t sure and you have to start somewhere. I’d gotten to 165 and was a little stuck. I wasn’t doing enough repetitions at that weight to believe I should add any weight.

This morning when I got there, it was mostly deserted (9:30 in the morning is a great time to go to the gym if you can swing it), and this was on the floor, loaded up to 225.

I’m pretty sure gym etiquette requires that you put your weights away when you’re done, not that I’m a fitness expert, but in this case I really didn’t mind. Because I looked at it and thought, “I wonder if I can pick that up? I bet I can.”

So I did.

Just like that, my deadlift stall went away. I can’t do sets at 225 yet, but it turns out I can do them at 185. My plateau seems to have been entirely mental. As I was finishing up, three regulars came in, and one of them asked me how my deadlift was coming. I told him about my morning, and he said, “Yep. You can always lift a little more than you think.”

I was walking after that to cool down, and thinking about what he said. And I think it doesn’t just apply to deadlifting. I’ve been faced with situations in life that I was really, definitely, positively sure I couldn’t handle. Sometimes I’ve had to get help. But one way or another, handle them I did. (Evidence: I’m still here.)

I’m certain that another heavy weight is coming at some point in my life. When it comes, I hope I will come back to these two things:

  • Remember, you can always lift a little more than you think.
  • Stop saying “I can’t lift that much yet.” Start asking, “I wonder if I can pick that up?”

I know it won’t make it easy. But it might just make it possible.

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