Going Under The Bar

A few weeks ago, around finals time in the second semester of my junior year in college, I came to an important realization that I believe to be true. It had to do with the decisions we make in our lives. I distilled the epiphany down to a single quote.

“The most important steps we take in life are the ones where the destination of our foot is in question.”

What does that mean? In more accessible terms, the hardest decisions are eventually the most valuable. There are two reasons why.

  1. If the result of the decision is what you initially desired, then you get exactly what you want, and it is all smiles.
  2. If you don’t get what you want, you attain a precious knowledge. Next time you will be better prepared before and while making the decision. You will also be better apt to cope with the consequences. (for those of you counting at home, that is two wins)

The inescapable key though is to MAKE THE DECISION. To remain idle is to lose. To grow, action is required. This sentiment came back to me this week while listening to a fantastic podcast called Weightlifting Talk.

I have recently become completely addicted to Weightlifting. I will use the capital “W” to alert my dear readers that I am talking about the fantastic sport comprised of the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk.

What has always eluded me till this week, is the reason for my addiction. My perplexion persisted until Donny Shankle clarified everything for me. If you don’t know who Donny Shankle is then stop reading, go to YouTube, and watch every video. Every single one. Now. Or just watch the video below.

Okay that was awesome, but back to the post. In the podcast Donny discussed what separates Weightlifting from other forms of gym based training, such as Powerlifting or Bodybuilding. In Donny’s mind the special quality which makes Weightlifting unique is the split second decision of whether or not to go under the bar.

That idea sounds innocuous until you yourself are actually faced with that exact decision. In the case of Weightlifting, the decision doesn’t happen until you get to the limits of your lifts. We have all heard that, “life begins where your comfort zone ends.” Setting a new personal record in the gym is in another way, a redefinition of a your comfort zone. That is where things start to get fun.

During my training today I loaded up the barbell with 105 kilos or 231 pounds. I was attempting a personal record. I walked up to the bar, hooked grip the hell out of the lifeless metal, dropped into a loose hunch, and prepared for a fight. I got a belly full of air, cocked back into my starting position, and injected what vertical force I could muster into the bar.

The bar got past my knees, to mid thigh, everything was going well, and then there it was. The decision was staring me in my face, only for a fleeting, fraction of a second though. I froze. The bar drifted an inch or so upward, but ultimately came crashing back down to lie lifeless once again.

I stood there disgusted. I had done all the work. I got the bar high enough. I had my chance. I missed it. I knew though what I had to do. I had to try again. I had to make the decision.

I grabbed the bar, dropped my hips, and ripped that fucking barbell off the floor with more vigor than the last time. The bar moves past my knees, my hips moved towards the bar, and there it was again. The decision to go under the bar reared it’s transient face. This time I made the call and dropped faster than even I had predicted.

The bar landed on my already beat up shoulders. In the hole I was still unsure of how the hell I ended up with all this weight on top of me. I stood up though. You’re damn right I stood up with that weight, and boy did it feel good. I wouldn’t have made that lift if I hadn’t missed the first one. Today I had a second chance, but that won’t always be the case. Opportunities for success in the gym, greatness in competition, happiness in relationships, and achievement in life don’t always come around twice.

I urge all of you to go under the bar every time the decision to do so presents itself…and then stand the hell up.

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3 responses to “Going Under The Bar

  1. Well said, Adam!

    I’ve experienced that split second decision you speak of several times during my training.

    It’s amazing how important such a tiny moment in time can be: Either my mind and body synchronize and agree to dive under the bar and complete the lift, bringing joy and satisfaction to my day; or there is divergence between the two and the bar crashes to the floor, an incomplete lift, leaving me longing for more.

    Like you say, a truly addicting sensation!

  2. Pingback: Details and Why I Perform Hand Care | Copeland Fitness·

  3. Thank you very much for the words Derek. Weightlifting is truly poetry in motion, but to write it one must commit to embracing vulnerability by going under the bar. The rush of hitting a lift cannot be beaten.

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