Saturday, December 15, 2012

Overcoming Fear of Heavy Weights

I don't mean people like me- "heavy weights", I mean the fear of lifting weights that are heavy.

I feel fear more often than you would imagine. I think it's part of the thrill of training, part of what makes it all so very exciting for me.

I have explained it over and over, lifting weights is a mind game for me, it's mind over matter. Look at me- I am big and I am strong, I CAN lift the damn weight. But sometimes, sometimes I think I cannot.

I talk to myself, sometimes it's inaudible, sometimes I can hear myself, I zone out, I really don't pay attention to people around me, they don't matter. In fact, they don't even belong in my "world" at that moment. 

Unless of course they are Roy- he does, I need him, I trust him, I like the reassurance that he is there, ready to catch the bar, or lift it when I am stuck at the bottom of a squat, as I squeak out a weak "Roy - help"...

I shouldn't need him though, I can do it without him, without anyone.  But I like him there, just to be sure.....

I have injured myself many times at the gym, the injuries have ranged from minor to major. I have suffered a few instances of over-use, when my physician had to tell me to stop lifting for several weeks at a time; developed bones spurs and deterioration of the shoulder joint; developed amenorrheoa due to losing too much body fat, which resulted in many other issues; slammed my fingers in between plates, (that is a regular occurrence unfortunately); dropped plates on my toes; tweaked my neck (lifting heavy, not paying attention and moving incorrectly); smacked my forehead with a 25 pound plate (drawing blood, it was dripping down my nose); broke a rib (performing a reverse hyper with a band and too much force on a Glute Ham Raise ); and now my most recent injury, one that was not serious but it set me back mentally. 

I was performing split jerks, an Olympic lift, and I pretty much shoved 115 pounds up my nose with as much force as possible.


I will back up a bit. I train all body parts twice a week, except the magnificent Back which gets it's brutal workout only once, and due to the intensity of this workout, it really cannot be completed more than once a week!

When I hit the shoulders with Roy on Friday, we review my plan for the next shoulder day, which is on Tuesday and on my own. We set sets, reps, weights. I am not one of those people who only works out with their trainer.....

It was 5 am at Gold's Gym, I was warming up properly and slowly. I was supposed to do 5 sets of 5-6 reps of split jerks at 115 pounds. It scares me, that's a lot of weight, explosive movement and my body is never fully recovered, my lats are still aching on Tuesday from my Sunday pounding. It's also a lot of weight! Almost as much as I weigh and I am supposed to heave it up over my head many, many times.

I completed two sets, then on the third, on the 3rd rep, I pushed the bar up, with as much force as I could muster, and shoved the bar right into my nose, the pain was incredible. I wavered, placed the bar back in the rack as quickly as possible and looked in the mirror wondering if just broke the damn thing. I watched as the blood slowly seeped into the skin, it wasn't broken, but it was pooling up under the skin. I was done with that for the day and moved onto the dumbbell shoulder press where I had a stellar set of 5 (9 reps the first then 10 the next 4) at 45 pounds in each hand.

I did the usual pictures on Facebook, texted Roy and felt humiliated and sorry for myself. But I was also angry. I screwed up one of my most important days.

Friday I met Roy and it was....shoulder day again. I told him I was afraid, I didn't want to knock another tooth out. I already did that once and have an implant - my eye tooth- (not weight training related) and don't want to go through that again.

He assured me I could do it, and said he would be there for me. I launched into it and my head was chattering more than I can recall in ages.

The self talk is amazing. It can make or break me, it's a powerful force that I know should not have the influence on me that it does. 

I stood at the bar, my head nodded up and down a bit, I tend to do that as I go through my 'self talk" and convince myself that I can do something, I was staring straight ahead, I talked to myself. I lifted the bar and rested it on my clavicle, I felt the weight. It's not that heavy, not quite my body weight. I can do this I tell myself.

I did all my sets, sometimes my legs wobbly underneath me as I held the bar over head in the locked out position, Roy standing behind ready to help.

I overcame it. After the fourth set I told him I was really feeling the fatigue, I wasn't sure if I could go on. He agreed, we would rest then move to the dumbbells.

I walked over to my log book as usual and asked what my plan was for Tuesday, and dutifully recorded it in my own pattern and method that only I understand.

I will not be afraid on Tuesday, I did it today, I can do it again. I must look the monsters in the eye.

It's not easy, I need to remind myself all the time, if it were, then everyone would do it right? My mother taught me that I could, and should, do anything and everything that I wanted in life, and I believe that to this day.

If you are ever afraid, know that I am there with you, we are all afraid, one day or another. We must all choose to fight those monsters inside of us.

Lift strong!

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