The sickening feeling begins to churn the moment I see the workout of the day has heavy barbell movements. If one thing rings true for me in CrossFit it’s that barbells are cold and unforgiving. However, in the sport of fitness, there’s no way to evade the barbell.
It’s one of our top tools that we use to build focus, strength, and power.
I walked into the box, inspected the whiteboard, sighed, and then looked over to the barbells leaning together in the corner. They rested quiet and just glared back at me. It was like they were waiting patiently to knock me down a notch. And their fat, rubber coated friends sat neatly next to them adding to my feeling of defeat. I try to avoid such thoughts because I know soon enough my thumbs will be tightly tucked around the neck of one of those cold-blooded barbells.
I’ve learned many difficult lessons in CrossFit, but one of the biggest is this. A loaded barbell refuses to be owned if you do not get in its face with grit and aggression. Even then sometimes, when you step to it with everything you can muster, it still doesn’t do what you want it to.
If you walk through a garage door and into a CrossFit box you’ll likely see someone standing in a showdown with an overloaded barbell. You can feel in the air the charge of a coming attack. You want to scream, “You got this, pick up that motherf**ker!”
But you don’t. This is their time to prepare. You seal those screams of motivation until after, and only after, they missed their first attempt. Then, you unleash a fury of what you know will motivate them most.
Most people pace, some people grunt and growl, and a few scream and slap themselves in the chest. It seems nearly all lifters run through a positive mental movie to overcome the heavy pull of gravity on the barbell. In that 10 seconds before you wrap your hands around the barbell it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it amps you for the assault on the barbell.
I’m a barbell stalker. I pace in front of the barbell and fix my eyes to it as though it were some sort of prey. It doesn’t matter if it sees me marching back and forth; I want it to know I’m coming for it.
I alternate squeezing my hands into fists and force my physiology to proclaim to my brain, “You will do this!” Once my brain begins to agree, I move to the barbell. Then I put my hands in position and slam my heels into the ground. Now, the barbell knows I’m not leaving until I’ve succeeded.
The instant my arms turn into straps and the barbell moves from the floor I don’t have any thoughts tangled in my mind. The practice has been done; the time for talk is over. It’s time to triumph not over the barbell, but over me.
And while I may have missed more lifts than I’ve made, I’ve never been beaten by a barbell.