It’s been a week box of retesting 1 rep maxes. Snatches. Squats. Cleans. Jerks. You name it. What do they have in common? Fear. 1 RM brings out fear in the best of us. There is the fear of failing. The fear of letting the mental override the physical. The fear of committing to a movement. The fear of experiencing what suck really feels like.
The thing is though, we use fear as a reason to not push ourselves. It feels safer that way. Or maybe it feels easier. It’s better to successfully press 100 lbs and not even try 105 (that’s just crazytown) than it is to attempt 105 and fail. Psych! Read that and tell me it makes any logical sense. If you do CrossFit, it’s a safe assumption that you are there for the challenge. We don’t walk away from a metcon typically saying “that was fun”. We are there for the suck. The suck is what makes all of it gratifying and challenging and therefore fun.
Fear means getting comfortable being uncomfortable. In CrossFit, the whole idea is to push ourselves beyond our limits. We can never do that if we stay comfortable and never get on the other side of fear.
To take this one step further, let’s get into the difference between feeling challenged and feeling like you are doing the near impossible. There is a fine line between the two yet the distinction is so powerful. Take back squats for example. If you have ever done a squat cycle, this should sound familiar. The volume and load methodically increases and decreases throughout the cycle. You slowly build strength. When you are in one of the last weeks of it, you’ll likely be doing reps at a high percentage of what your starting 1 RM max is. Or you may be doing higher reps at somewhat lower percentage. It’s not likely you will fail (even if you fear you will) as squat cycles are brilliantly programmed to avoid this. So you go through the reps, and no, they are not easy, but you do not fail.
Then comes the retest day. You start working your way up to your starting 1 RM and then you test the waters and increase the weight to get a new PR. When you get to that say 110% of your 1 RM, the difficult y of that squat should feel subtly yet distinctively harder than when you squatted during the cycle. There’s that defining moment right after you complete the descend and start to stand back up. It’s that really sticky make or break moment where you dig deep inside and push like hell through it. And you do it! Yet, when you are on the ascend there’s a split moment where you make the choice to give in or keep going. If you give into it without trying, you have gained nothing. If you power through it, you may actually experience a really wickedly awesome moment. Even if you fail trying, it will benefit you far more than not trying at all. Giving into fear just kills the drive and motivation to ever push harder. Fear despite the connotation, is actually a good thing, if you let it power you as opposed to inhibit. If we wanted to stay comfortable all the time, we would not be in CrossFit.
Those sticky moments are uncomfortable. The first time you experience it, it may even be intimidating and feel icky. I encourage everyone to find that sticky moment. It’s difficult to even explain that feeling. All I can say is once you do, you will fear those moments less. The element of the unknown is gone and you will feel far more confident to keep testing yourself. Find that and then watch and see all that you will accomplish.