I suck at lifting

I suck at lifting

This post contains some colourful language and is generally depressing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In this week’s workout recap, I mentioned that this week I’d be testing all my maxes. I think this was the worst training week of my entire life. I had a particularly embarrassing moment in the gym last night where I seriously contemplated giving up not only competing but lifting entirely.

On Monday, I was due to test my squat max. Because of an appointment in the afternoon, I had to train immediately after a client in the morning. It wasn’t until I started warming up that I realised I was supposed to be attempting a max squat. Usually, I think about maxing out all day long and I would never normally attempt to do so in the morning, especially when I hadn’t eaten any carbs or even had coffee yet.

I started warming up and even 50kg felt heavy. My back still felt sore from deadlifts the previous Friday. Right then and there I basically convinced myself that there was no way I’d be squatting 100kg (220lbs). Sure enough, I struggled getting 80kg up and then I failed 90kg (200lbs). I got about halfway out of the hole and then my brain just went ‘nope’ and I dumped the weight. I have done 90kg before (back in October!) so there is no reason I should be failing it now. I was annoyed but managed to keep it together as a) my squat has always sucked due to the sheer number of knee, ankle and glute injuries I’ve had and b) I don’t really need to squat for strongman so I can get away with having that as my weakness.

Screw you, squats!

Screw you, squats!

On Wednesday night, I attempted a new overhead log press max. My previous PR was 50kg (110lbs). I warmed up and put 50kg on the bar. I got it over head, but I hardly used any leg drive so I forced myself to do it again with perfect form for a second rep. I then put 52.5kg (115lbs) on the log. I gave it two attempts but it barely moved an inch off my chest. I then took the 1.25kg plates off and put on the teeny tiny 0.5kg plates, but couldn’t budge 51kg either.

Although I was frustrated that I didn’t get at least a 1kg PR, I managed to hold it together as I reminded myself that I haven’t done any heavy single work in the past couple of months. I tried not to think about the fact that my next competition involves a max weight log press, starting at 50kg (meaning I really need to get my shit together in the next 12 weeks). I have always struggled with the mental side of overhead pressing and almost went in expecting to fail. Anyone who competes will know that this is not a good attitude to have. Any good strength athlete should always visualise their lift beforehand, with no doubt in their mind that the weight is going up. Yep, definitely not how I go about it!

And damn you, log!

And damn you, log!

Deadlifts should have been my saving grace. They had felt easy last week, and I had recently deadlifted a car (circa 120kg) for 27 reps, for God’s sake! I should have easily got a PR but my fucking head got in the way again. I can rep weights all day long but I hide like a little bunny when I actually have to max out. I worried that my previous failures were caused by starting my new low carb diet (that timing was well thought out by me, right?) so I even carbed up all day yesterday in preparation to lift.

I warmed up with sets of five, and then did an easy single at 115kg. I should have jumped straight from 115 to 130kg, but I did 125kg (276lbs) instead. It went up without hitching, but it definitely felt hard. I then sat there for way too long contemplating whether I should attempt 130kg (287lbs) or 135kg (297lbs). I stupidly chose the latter and psyched myself out by reminding myself how heavy 125kg just felt. The bar wouldn’t even budge from the floor, so I tried dropping back to 130kg and that wouldn’t move either.

After the first fail I dropped the F and C bombs very loudly (which is saying a lot because I never say the C word!) but when I couldn’t even get 130kg I cried like a little bitch in the middle of the gym. I then spent the remainder of my workout talking negatively to myself.

Not even all-day carbs helped!

Not even all-day carbs helped!

Sometimes people say I’m too cocky about my lifting which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am so negative and talk myself out of 90 per cent of my max attempts. It didn’t help that I was attempting these lifts on my own and didn’t have anyone to snap me out of it (I’ve had someone training with me for every PR I’ve made in the past year). Here are some of the lovely thoughts that ran through my head after my first fail (no wonder I didn’t get the second lift!):

– What kind of strong woman are you if you can’t even deadlift double body weight?

– There are ladies who are in the weight class below you who can lift significantly more than this. You are pathetic.

– At your next comp you will be up against women who can deadlift 160-170kg. You are going to be humiliated.

– You have no business to compete in strongwoman. Weak woman, more like.

And then the negative body thoughts came hard and fast: What is the point in having gained all this weight if you can’t even lift more? You are fat and you can’t even lift. You should just go back to bodybuilding – oh wait, you’re too fat for that. (…I know, please slap me.)

I didn’t even want to eat after my workout. It was the first time in years I’ve had such a terrible body-related breakdown. All because of a stupid fucking missed lift.


Don’t worry, I did eat something.

I just had a look through my archives and it appears that 125kg was indeed a conventional deadlift PR for me (I sumo pulled 130kg in December). But it’s nothing to get excited about. When I see what other strongwomen are lifting – and yes, I know I shouldn’t compare myself to them but it’s impossible not to – I feel so pathetic. Like, what am I doing in this sport?

I’m so pissed off as the previous week everything had felt nice and light. I had squatted 80kg like it was 50kg and pulled 120kg light it was 60kg. Sure, my overhead had been a struggle but it was my first solid training week in three weeks. I’m annoyed that I didn’t go for a PR when I felt strong, instead sticking to this stupid timeline in my head of when I am allowed to PR. I’m annoyed that I didn’t accept that my body was having an off week, and I should not have forced myself through it and shattered my confidence in the process.

In perfect timing, I stumbled across this quote from Les Brown this morning:

You are stronger than you think you are. It doesn’t matter what you are facing…a lost relationship, job, bankruptcy, foreclosure, health challenge, or financial situation. You have the power in you to create it all over again from scratch. It does not matter how old you are. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s natural to feel sorry for yourself or feel frightened and want to give up. It doesn’t even matter if the people that you thought would have your back have deserted you. You are still breathing. You’re still here and you have the power to win.

You are more powerful than you think you are. Remind yourself of this. Stand up within yourself. Gather your mental, emotional and spiritual strength. Speak from deep within your spirit and your soul. Take back your power. Say…”I will survive. I will thrive. I am coming back. Giving up is not who I am. I will stay the course and persist until I succeed.” You might have to do this while down on your knees, praying, crying, screaming at the top of your lungs. Resist the feeling of being overwhelmed, powerless or being a victim. You will survive and thrive again!! You have something special.


The past few months have been pretty tough on me dealing with the stress and uncertainty of not knowing where I would be living, leaving the country and not knowing if I was coming back, going through a divorce, losing some of my family, moving house three times in three months, and dealing with an injury and almost having to pull out of a competition. I managed to get through all of those things just fine so I know I can handle a few stupid failed lifts.

I need to snap out of this and get a (flexible!) plan together to get the damn weights up! I’ve always known that strength is my weakness and I need to focus on the parts of strongman I’m good at (speed events) so I don’t completely lose all hope in myself. Finally, I need to remind myself that I have added 25kg to my deadlift and 15-17.5kg to my log press in only one year, which is not too shabby.

Has a failed lift ever crushed your confidence?

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