Train to Fail

miguel cotto

I currently have a soccer ball sized bruised on my back. It’s all splotchy, like some giant mutated birthmark. I got it from an unexpected failure.

I’ve been doing jump squats for several months now. I’ll do post on them in the near future, but if you attempt them now, just know that they can be dangerous. But, they are my new favorite exercise.

Anyways, I’m doing jump squats. I have 374lbs on my back, and plan to add weight for my next set. I don’t realize that my body just doesn’t have the energy in it that I think it does. So, on my last rep, I go down, and……….just pop a squat, like an indigenous tribesman in the forest. My first instinct is to move slightly forward and down, since I usually squat in power racks with bail bars. I quickly realize that I’m working out at the one gym I use that doesn’t have bail bars.

No problem, my brain says, we’ll just throw the bar forward since we’re already going this direction. So I start pushing the bar forward again, before quickly realizing my head is in the way. Ok, I’ll just keep the squat, relax, and figure out something else. Since I can’t go forward, I must have to go backward. My arms are on the wrong side though, but I’ll fix that with a quick, steady under over to provide a clear landing path.

Then I slowly rolled the bar down, instead of just quickly dropping it, because I didn’t want to look like a bitch (and I got the largest bruise of my life). I took off some weight, and finished four more sets, since defeat was not an option at this point.

I woke up pretty damn sore the next few days, but not injured. Because I’ve been doing jump squats, I trained my back to deal with slightly off kilter heavy weights. And that probably saved me from permanently damaging back with a couple bad impulses after I failed to move the weight through the lift.

That’s why I lift the way I do. No straps, no belts, no suits. I don’t get paid to lift more weight than everybody else. I lift for myself, and I always want my weakest point to be the one I have to strengthen. Nothing will take away from the knowledge that all of my power hinges on small body parts that aren’t designed for the same power as the rest of my body. Because that’s the only thing that helps protect your body when you have to move it in a way you’re not prepared to do.

But, it still brought to the fore that I’m not completely training to fail. I didn’t have the exit plan down, for that gym, if I failed my lift. Like most people, I’m no Olympian, but we can all destroy our bodies in a poorly planned lift. So, I’ve worked out how all of my lifts can fail, in every gym I work out, to truly train to fail. Because at some point, failure is guaranteed.

This is how you properly dump a squat, by the way.


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