If you are a powerlifter or powerbuilder you know who the bitch is. The one that is not giving in, that despite all your efforts week by week just doesn't wanna show even the slightest appreciation. You might already have figured out what I'm talking about...the overhead press.
You progress on the squat as if Atlas were your direct cousin, you deadlift like Earth's gravity dropped 3 times and you bench like all the chicks in the gym are watching and hoping to have babies with you. But it doesn't matter how strong you feel and are, whenever you have overhead press you keep saying to people passing by "yeah, deloading week brah".
I remember when I started my very first strength routine (Stronglifts 5x5). I started stalling like immediately on that lift. I turned to the internet pretty desperate and I think I even wrote a message somewhere on some forum crying about my total ineptitude pressing heavy shit overhead.
I also remember that in the very beginning I totally fucked up my neck like never before.
I woke up the day after like this:
I remember being totally shocked and thinking: "holy shit I crippled myself!". I had the most painful physiotherapy experience of my life that day but at least the dude fixed me.
I start getting better at it though and by the end of last year I could do 1x2 of 50 kg. Then when I came back from Xmas holidays, I was back at ground zero and had to work up back to 5x5 45 kg. Then I stayed there oscillating back and forth between 45 kg and 47.5 kg.
Funny story, I decided to do some kind of microloading so I went on the internet and bought from this Dutch website (SPOILER ALERT: I have no fucking idea about the dutch language) two plates of 0.5 kg. I said to myself: "fucking awesome dude, we are gonna nail this mofo down". Put the microplates in my gym bag, went to the gym, took them from the bag, brought to the rack, started warming up, and I was ready for the set. I load the bar with 47.5 kg and I take the microplates to add them to the bar. And that's when I found out:
BRILLIANT. I was totally fucked 'cause these microplates had holes too small for the olympic bar. *INSERT OBVIOUS DIRTY PUN HERE*
Then another day, around 2 months ago, I woke up with a crazy pain in my shoulder blade. Turns out that I slept in a ridiculously weird position and TORE yes, fucking TORE my teres minor muscle. A little bitch that you don't even imagine exists, well I tore that bitch. And if you wonder how one can get injured while sleeping, just stop wondering.
Result? I couldn't absolutely do any overhead press movement. You could imagine the downward spiral of negativity I had about my already zero progresses on the fucking overhead press.
Since I'm stubborn I decided to still train that movement but in a different way. I did high reps of low weight of overhead press with dumbells. I just took a weight that I could bare and pressed that shit overhead. I also did some medium weight landmine press with both hands. This kept the blood flowing and this usually speeds up the recovery process.
Around 1 month later I could overhead press again. The pain was still there but less intense. I had to deload though. The misery! But I knew that I could easily get back to where I was. So I started again with 5x5 at 40 kg. I kinda said fuck you to my ego and did the lift.
The following time I added 2.5 kg, and the following time again and again. Last thing I know I was doing 5x5 with 50 kg. I thought WTF. I ascribed the gained strength to the fact I started growing a beard. That must totally have been the reason.
Then I switched to 3x3 and kept loading the bar until today, last upper body day at the gym for this 2015 I decided to go 3x3 with 55 kg. My body-weight at the moment while I'm writing this is 65 kg.
I did the first set. At the first rep I was already feeling like "no way bro, this is not gonna work". My back arched way too much. I managed to squeeze a second rep but that was it. Done. Two reps. (for those wondering in what language I'm cursing the cursing at the end of the video: it starts in Italian but ends in English)
I take my rest and then second set. First rep feels kinda ok and the second reps goes kinda easy but that's it. Again, failed with only two reps.
Now it's where the hero of the story enters the scene. Shawn. This 17 years old guy from Aruba. Those of you following me on Instagram might have already seen him introducing the latest fitness fad who's gonna rock in 2016. I'm talking about CrotchFit. Here's the video:
He likes to fuck around a lot, saying bullshit and have fun but when he comes to lifting he becomes another person. Focused like anything but the bar matters. He's only 17 but he lifts incredible weights. He's ambitious, dedicated and passionate about powerlifting. I wonder what do 17 years old do these days (Jesus I sound like my grandpa).
Shawn wanted me to succeed in my last set. He looked me in the eyes and said:
“You need to wake up. You need to want this. You have to get to the bar with your head empty. You have to see you lifting and finish the set. When you get to the bar, the lift has been done already.”
The power of words. He's only 17 but he knows what is the proper mindset to succeed. Sure he fucks around a lot and loves to have laugh but when shit get serious he can get serious and present.
He slapped me on the back and then this happened:
I managed to lift for 55 kg for 3 reps. Something I would never imagined possible seeing the speed of my progresses in the beginning of the year.
Say that my muscle were warmed up, saying that it was the adrenaline, say whatever you want. Still I did it. Those words put me in a different mindset. I wanted that and I got it. There's nothing more masculine than that. Setting a goal and achieving it. As David Deida says in one of my most favorite books of all time:
“Your basic motivation is to be released from constraint and experience the freedom on the other side. What are some of the most common forms of masculine ecstasy? Orgasm is one. The typical masculine orgasm, as you probably know, involves a build-up of tension, or constraint, until the dam finally breaks, and your tension and energy are released. The post-orgasmic state is one of death-like peace, an emptiness akin to a blissful oblivion. The masculine is always seeking this release in one way or another.”
Shawn might be 10 years younger than me but he taught me a lesson. Your muscles are important but the mindset is what comes first. Like with everything in life. The proper attitude will lead you wherever you set your mind to. And I know this to be true seeing where I managed to bring my life so far (maybe this will be in another post one day).
There are several lesson learned today: 1) stay humble and listen to other people who have results even if they are younger; 2) you need to badly want to succeed; 3) believing that it is gonna happen is already half of the effort.
And with this I close, I'm going to watch the new Star Wars movie now. JJ Abrams might better not disappoint me after those awful last 3 Star Wars movies.
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