just because you can (the bro factor)
The deadlifts feel strong today. I work on incorporating few cues that a powerlifter friend gives me the week before. According to him, my deadlift looks great. [Yessssss!] The only suggestions – engage the lats more, pull the shoulders back and turn the elbows out, then explode once the bar passes your knees. It feels weird when the weight is light, but slows down once you load it up.
I go to about 60% of my one rep max – multiple sets of ten. High reps. High heart rate. Sweaty. I am interested in position. Quality of movement. Trying to cement in those cues, remember how they feel in the body.
After the deadlift, I walk over to the bench. Bench press is my weakest lift, and changing the grip to a more narrow one made a big difference. Also, lifting myself off the bench, while holding onto the bar to arch the back more, and really lock up. As with deadlifts, I am not here to break any records. Or even go heavy. Not today.
Practice the movement. Replay the cues in my head. This is deliberate practice.
I want to go moderately heavy at three to five reps. Few sets in, I am at my last set and at 120 pounds. My (brand new) max is 145 pounds, so 120 is hitting that sweet spot of “heavy, but clean”.
I look around for a knight in shining armour. There is one beside me, unloading the bar after deadlifts. No armour – regular tank top. But his forehead is shining with sweat, so that’s gotta count for something. He will do. We exchange the upnod, and he comes to stand by my head.
“Three, for sure”, I say. “Maybe, five”. He nods. “Then we’ll go for six”. “No, we won’t”, I think to myself.
Three reps are clean. The fourth and fifth wobble a bit on the way up, but I lock out the bar, and glance up, so he can help me re-rack. “You can do six”, he says quickly, but takes the bar, as I do not make even a tiniest movement towards another attempt.
“You could do six”, he says, as I get up.
“You could even do seven, I think”, he offers.
“I probably could”, I agree, stripping the bar.
Five years ago, I would have totally fallen for this. Well, if I CAN, then let’s freaking do this, amirite? Today I do not care. I do not care if you think I could do another rep. Hell, I do not even care if I think I can do another rep.
Whether or not I can do another rep or lift more weight is none of my business. I show up, do the work, go home.
Notice that right before this, my helpful gentleman has just “finished” a set of deadlifts, where his last attempt included four plates on each side (405lb), wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and another bro filming this undertaking on a cell phone. I am surprised they did not blast Megadeth or something.
As he is setting up, I casually glance around to find at least half dozen bros watching the scene unfold, all the while pretending not to look. I am all too familiar with taking just a bit too long between sets, when you are really just curious what the guy’s form is going to look like. My superiority complex needs fuel. Yep, guilty.
Four plates. The bar barely leaves the ground and slams back down. It is not even close, but he is setting up for another attempt. The fellow dude bro is resetting the phone camera – just in case.
This is the Planet Fitness version of walk of shame – stripping the bar and carrying the plates back. You do not make eye contact. Everybody pretends they didn’t see. You pretend it didn’t happen.
I see this way too often – the measurement of “good” is “to failure every time”. Grunt and scream. Cue angry music. Really psych yourself up before touching that bar. If you are lucky, you will also be wicked sore tomorrow.
Fuck that noise.
You have heard this before, but… just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
And “more” can be a faulty indicator of “better”.
P.S. If you haven’t read “My Workout Is Too Easy, Too Boring, Not Hard Enough”, you should.