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Maintaining Composure When Training Doesn't Go Your Way

We’ve all experienced training days where it feels like nothing can go right; your compound movement was moving slower than it should, or perhaps you even failed something you’ve hit before, and all accessories feel heavy or you’re just more tired than usual. I could go on, but I have a feeling those reading this can understand what I mean. 


I recently had a powerlifting meet that went the opposite of how I imagined it going. Training leading into the meet was going great, I was feeling strong, even while cutting weight, and my top singles week to week were moving very well. I had full faith I would have my best meet. I was wildly incorrect. I missed my third attempt squat, bench, and deadlift, totaled worse than I had a year ago, and overall had a very upsetting day. I was visibly upset and frustrated a majority of the day. After missing a third squat I knew I could hit due to a technique issue, I came off the platform and threw my belt across the concrete floor. It’s not something I’m proud of, and looking back I wish I wouldn’t have (especially because I broke a pin on my lever). Looking back on the moment, there’s no sense in being so upset about a single day of training. I managed to reign in my emotions and prepare to bench. Again, warmups were feeling good, but I got out to the platform, restrained my pec on the first attempt, had a decent second, and missed my third attempt. At this point, I wasn’t angry, I was defeated. I walked off upset, and didn’t care about the rest of the day, almost wanting to walk away.


Looking back on this day, I wish I would have maintained composure a little better. I’ve missed lifts before, I’ve had bad days of training before, and while it was a regional level meet, it was just another day. It was 9 lifts out of thousands I still have yet to take. And that’s the point I want to really make; you have thousands of days and hundreds of thousands of reps left, there’s so little sense in making those few have that kind of effect on you. It was a regional level meet, but there are more. It is perfectly normal to be upset about a day of training going poorly, I’ve been there before, but I allow it to impact me for maybe that hour or two, finish out training, and work on having a better attitude after. There are too many variables to contend with day-to-day and reasons for something going the way it did to worry about that one day. Maybe you didn’t sleep as well as you usually have, maybe your food intake wasn’t up to standard, or maybe, those being normal, it’s outside stressors from work, relationships, family, or other. There are a lot more variables that go into feeling 100%, and you don’t always have full control over them. And again, anger or visible frustration to that degree, often causes others to lose respect for you because you’re not able to control your emotions. There could be further consequences, such as broken equipment, or even worse, a broken or hurt body part (don’t punch stuff, please, it hurts and then you have to deal with that). 


I want to reiterate the idea that it’s one rep or one set out of thousands, and there will be thousands more after that. Allow yourself to feel the frustration, we’re human, it’s okay, but try to maintain composure so it doesn’t affect the rest of your training or even the rest of your day. Walk away from the area, pace if needed, and take some deep breaths. Training is supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to enjoy the process and have a good time, often with training partners, getting better and getting stronger. Don’t put so much pressure on one moment or one lift. Just lift. One rep, one set, one day at a time. 

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