It’s time. My max attempt is moments away as I bounce with delicate intensity on the balls of my feet. It’s time for me to conquer my fear of squatting heavy again for the first time since my knee surgery. With heavy metal blasting through my headphones, my focus dials in as adrenaline shoots through my veins. I set up under the bar by pounding my feet into the ground and taking a deep breath. I tense my body and extend my sternum up ready to lift the bar out of the rack as it lays across my shoulders. I back out and the only thing on my mind is this 295lb front squat.
As I stare myself in the mirror, I realize it’s now or never. So, I take a deep breath and say, “You got this.”
I promptly drop down while trying to maintain good thoracic extension, and realize (after the fact) that my mind is completely clear. Literally, nothing else matters at this point, but the rep at hand. My environment starts to go silent around me as I reach the bottom of the hole. Then something remarkable…transcendent happens. A force takes over that has happened only at rare moments throughout my training career. Some call it, “in the zone,” but I like to call it a zen primal state, or a transcendent rep, as Elliott Hulse calls it.
In the instant I come out of the hole is when I reach this harmonic state of complete focus, aggression, and peace. I know this because a sense of euphoria (almost orgasmic in nature) engulfs me as a powerful scream roars out of me like a lion. It wasn’t forced in any way, but came out naturally without any thought at all. It was almost as if my body was able to reach a higher state of consciousness for a brief moment because of the magnitude this event has on me mentally and emotionally (previous injuries, failures, etc.). I think I was totally able to immerse myself in the moment without holding myself back that my body and mind became unified in complete harmony for me to successfully complete the rep with fervor.
After I stand tall with a stare of a thousand men (okay, maybe a little too dramatic, but you get the point), things quickly get back to “normal.” My body is taxed and I lunge forward to rack the bar. As I unlock myself from under the bar, I take huge breaths to oxygenate my body. Despite the fatigue, however, a huge smile runs across my face. It only now starts to hit me of what amazing personal event just happened. I conquered my fear and won.
Look, a 295lb front squat is really not that heavy for a lot of people, but for me and my history, it’s like I just won an intense battle years in the making. Moments like these remind me exactly of why I love to train. They remind me that I have the power to break down my fears and limitations that I once thought were impossible for me overcome. I battled, failed, struggled some more, but eventually overcame the adversity, much self created, because I stuck with it. I was present in the moment and let go of past baggage holding me back which allowed me to succeed and be happier and stronger (mind and body). And that’s the lesson I took out of it.
This is the best example for me personally to-date and hopefully won’t be the last. Regardless, it most certainly humbles you and changes you for the better. Hopefully you might have one and many of your own to do the same.
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This post is inspired by a person I look up to as a mentor: Elliott Hulse. I’ve never met the man, but his work, especially through his YouTube channels, has definitely influenced, motivated, and changed me for the better. The way he is able to express his thoughts, ideas, and philosophies through his videos is fascinating to me and I’m grateful for all he’s done. Much thanks and best wishes for his new journey he’s on. (Check out his Strengthcamp and Elliott Hulse channels).