It’s deadlift day. I head over to Skiba’s Gym in Carteret, NJ seven weeks out from competition.
This isn’t mindless lifting of heavy weight; no, this is methodical. Structured in my approach, I step foot into the gym with one goal in mind, to pull a top set of 765. Plate after plate, the bar bends under the stress of the load. My drive, however, remains rigid, focused on the task at hand. I treat every pull equally, with the same mental preparation, which allows for proper execution. This isn’t a movement that is to be taken lightly. Like an artist approaching his canvas, I make my move. My body now responds like a machine after years of repetition.
The weight moves on command as I progress up toward today’s target weight. I arrive at 765. Two doubles fly up as planned. Ideally two more should follow, making it a total of four doubles with this weight as my top set. But this is real life, it’s not always going to be green lights. My third set slips away from me. Staring right in the face of adversity, I move on to my scheduled back off set of 725. Despite my failed attempt, there is still work to be done. Two doubles fly up. Just like that, a spark is ignited and, using the momentum from the two successful back off doubles, I load the bar back up to 765 and face it head on. I battle through a double and force out one final single, exerting every last bit of energy I have in me.
Most people fear failure, but I welcome it. They’re more interested in ego lifting, pulling weight they know is easily attainable for them so they can high-five their gym buddies, then go home and brag about it on social media. There’s no fooling anyone up on that platform—no smoke and mirrors. If I’m going to fail, I’d rather it be here. On the day of the meet I will have grown from those failures and not walk in with a false sense of pride. I will know that I’ve hit every number I’ve attempted.
The day is not even close to being over. Now it’s time to go to work, focusing on volume to build up to heavier top sets in the weeks to follow. With all the “heavy stuff” out of the way, I back off to 495 for two sets of ten. This is powerlifting and the goal is progression, so I throw some more weight on the bar, now holding 515 and rip it up for another ten. This type of volume training has worked really well for my bench in the past. I am applying the same principles—making deadlift a focal point of my training by training it three days a week—in order to peak properly for my meet.
It’s back to the drawing board. Not all training sessions are going to go as planned. You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself or you can get back up on your feet and grow from the experience. It’s not about how many times you fail, it’s what you do with those experiences and how you progress from them. Before I head out the gym doors, I put the final touches on my lower back with some reverse hyperextensions. Sure the top set didn’t go as planned, but that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I’m always hungry. The iron will be waiting and I’ll be ready.