Last night at my CrossFit gym, to mark the conclusion of the Smolov Jr. cycle, we retested our 1 rep maxes in the push press and back squat.
Everyone was excited. Inherently we all knew that we were stronger, especially those who had done the full Smolov Jr. cycle of lifting four times per week for the past three weeks. I was raring to go and at the end of the day saw gains in both lifts.
My previous 1 rep max for the push press, when we tested it four weeks ago, was 130 lbs. Last night, I went up by 20 lbs. to set a new PR (personal record) of 150 lbs. In the back squat, my previous 1 rep max was 180 lbs. and I went up 35 lbs. to set a new PR of 215 lbs.
Throughout the day, people posted their numbers on Facebook. One gym member even offered a prize for the biggest percent gain. All vying for the win, we calculated the difference between our original 1 rep max and our new. Overall, I went up by approximately 118%.
I had achieved significant gains over the course of one month. So why was I unhappy?
The problem was that I let others enter my equation.
Left and right people were posting gains throughout the day. It was truly awesome. People were going up by 20-30 pounds in the push press and 40-60 pounds in the back squat. And I let all their achievements get into my head. I figured if they were going up by so many pounds, then naturally I would to. I was letting other people’s success dictate what success meant for me.
So when I got to class and it was time to start attempting one max reps in the push press, all I was focused on was the number rather than my form. Thankfully, three weeks and over 400 hundred reps later, my form had greatly improved to let me naturally make some gains. But, when it came time to concentrate and think about form and stop worrying about what other people had done, I failed. I failed at the lift and my ego was crushed.
My coach Peter asked me why I looked so dismayed. I explained that I wanted to lift my body-weight in the push press. He asked what I had done so far and when I said that I had gone up by 20 lbs., he laughed. Not because my gain wasn’t impressive but because I was being ridiculous not celebrating my own personal success.
I admitted to him that after seeing all the numbers people posted all day, I expected to lift more. He reminded me that my gains were significant and that should be my only concern.
In my calculations, I had let others become part of the denominator. My math was wrong. I should be the only person in the equation. I needed to focus on what I did compared to what I had done.
It’s a hard lesson in life. It’s so easy to see the success of others and believe it should be our own.
- “I work just as hard as him. I should also get that raise and promotion.”
- “I work out just as much as her. I should be the same dress size.”
- “My kid is just as talented as theirs. He should get that gold star too.”
The fact of the matter is that we need to be happy for others’ success but realize that we can’t by default expect the same results in life, no matter how hard we work or train or sweat or suffer.
I can only compare me to myself in terms of achievements. Am I stronger than I was before? Am I smarter than I was before? Am I happier than I was before? Am I a better person than I was before?
Others can serve as models or mentors or just pure inspiration, but they cannot be barometers.
I need to calculate my personal equation again and see what type of difference I have made so far in my training. That is the only thing worth comparing to.