Coach Caleb’s Corner
Squats are Like Life!
I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since our powerlifting team competed at the USAPL Juggernaut Summer Open meet! Time flies when you’re having fun! And with the kickoff of our next Tactical Strength Challenge training cycle, and our fundraising Metabolic Burn Class this week, it’s been a busy time at Breakthrough to closeout the summer. Before we get too deep into this next phase of training and the last quarter or 2017, I wanted to celebrate the strength of our Breakthrough fitness family and their first ever powerlifting competition!
It would seem that we’re entering quite a golden age for physical training and especially strength sports, with lots of new athletes embracing the challenge to step onto the platform on an appointed day; the culmination of months of preparation, with the hopes of peaking athletic performance in multiple events over several long hours of friendly competition. We couldn’t be more proud of our amazing Breakthrough Barbell Club and the performance of our budding powerlifting team! In addition to having 5 lifters competing for the first time, we were overwhelmed by the support of our gym members and friends who made the trek to Laguna Niguel to support our athletes throughout a long, hot day of intense feats of strength. One of the common threads we keep hearing from our members after the event was how much they learned from the experience. Not only did the competitors feel this way, but so did our support team! What an amazing experience.
The sport of powerlifting is not widely understood in our society, in spite of its recent growth in popularity, and it can be hard to relate just what all the fuss is about unless you experience a meet first hand as a lifter or supporter. Here are a few observations on our team’s experience which illustrate why competing in strength sports is so unique:
1. It takes a village – Although ostensibly an individual sport, a solid team is actually required most of the time. Spotting, coaching, programming… the list of stuff you need your crew to help you with goes on and on, if you’re a powerlifter. This creates a community of like minded individuals who band together to support each other and make everything from planning to training to competing a whole lot of fun! For the meet itself, each platform carries a team of loaders and spotters (usually at least three hard working individuals) and three qualified judges watching every rep. You’re never going it alone! When you lift the weight, you are actually lifted by your training partners, coaches and the rest of the competitors who want everyone to do their best. It’s a really cool feeling!
2. It’s not the same as maxing out in the gym – There are some gym rats (cowards!) who like to downplay the idea of lifting in competition with a refrain about how they can avoid the hassle and get the same result by just going for it one day in the gym to get a new single rep max in each lift. Although achieving personal records in the gym is something I’m all for, there is no comparison between getting a PR in the gym and getting a PR at a meet. The level of dedication and effort called for to commit to a specific day to peak all three power lifts in front of the judges and the crowd calls for an individual to push their comfort zone quite a bit. When you’re in the middle of a tough three attempts on the bench press and you’ve got a few no-counts from the judges, you might feel like calling it a day, but you play on! Powerlifters exemplify the Winston Churchill quote; “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Whether you’re doing a Tactical Strength Challenge or a powerlifting meet, the experience takes the familiar training lifts up quite a few notches and forges new strength of body, character and spirit. This just can’t be duplicated on a regular gym day, even a challenging one.
3. It’s not just about lifting the most – We get excited to see records broken and big lifts happen in competition, but the enthusiasm for a record breaking attempt is surprisingly similar to the level of support felt on just any attempt. The respect that lifters have for each other and for the sport is quite refreshing. The judges are always excited to see athletes lifting for the first time in competition and have no disdain for an inexperienced competitor making a mistake. In fact, the judges remind the athletes to be sure to ask them why a lift was given a red light before they leave the platform, giving them the best chance to succeed on the next attempt. Having a successful day of competition might mean breaking a state record, getting a new personal record, scoring nine out of nine lifts that count, or just having a score for all three events! By showing up and testing your strength, you’re already a winner.
The experience of such a challenge carries it’s own rewards. You will find yourself not just physically stronger, but also stronger in mind and spirit when you lift with a group of supportive friends and then experience the thrill of challenging yourself on competition day. After all, squats are like life; its about standing up even when something heavy is trying to keep you down!
PS – you can check out a quick highlight video of our Powerlifting Team here!