One Final word on DOING WORK.

February 13, 2012

I’ve been saying the phrase, “LET ME WORK” a lot lately.  Maybe a little bit too often.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m actually beginning to get annoyed at myself AS I say it.  And whenever that happens, one would have to assume that those around me have already crossed that point around 3 weeks ago.  This is kind of like the time when I couldn’t NOT say “HEAVY DUTY” while working out.  It just started to come naturally; as natural as the sweat on my brow or the yoke on my shoulders.  So I’ve decided to stop if only to spare you the eye roll as you read my (not so) witty comments.  But first, let me put this thing to rest with one last personal account on the importance of letting the lifter work.

I had been working with CC for about 6 months at this point.  Already, she was blossoming into a “fully legit mode” JR lifter and a damn good training partner.  Often, as I was resting on my bench in between sets, hating life, I would look over to the far platform only to see CC crushing weights like a god damn communist Russian/Bulgarian/Chinese/Super Saiyan monster.  She would hit a set of power snatches, each one like a stroke Michelangelo’s brush.  And I would sink a little bit deeper into that bench, remembering when I had only been lifting weights for 6 months and also remembering how it looked absolutely nothing like that.  A Padiwan learner she was not, it seemed as if she jumped straight to Jedi.  And if that were the case, that would make me Old Man Kenobi. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Except nobody would’ve called me that for years.  But I was still her coach.  And as her coach, it was my responsibility to push her just enough for us to see where her current limits were set at.  It was always at the back of my mind that despite all of her strength and skill, CC was a still fledgling lifter.  And never having coached an athlete like CC before, I too was a fledgling coach.

I never wanted her to fail.  I could coach her technically.  I planned out her workouts effectively.  I could count attempts in competition.  But I just did not like to see her fail.  It was like I wanted her to like the sport of weightlifting so bad that I only wanted her to achieve the successes of weightlifting with none of the failures.  However, we all know that weightlifting is a sport where success is built on failure.  Even in success, the lifter then must then prepare himself for the many, many failures to come.  But like I said, I was a novice and so was she.  So I would only allow her a few misses per exercise before I would urge her to move on to the next, ALWAYS with the mindset that it is better to error on the side of caution.  To a certain degree, I still (and should) do this.  But now we both have more experience underneath our belts.  It only takes a few ugly misses for an athlete to develop a healthy respect for the weights to be thrown overhead and it only takes a coach a few months of training with an athlete to begin to predict how she will handle certain weights.

Coming back to the incident in question, I had CC follow her usual snatch and clean and jerk routine by taking up her back squats to her best set of 5.  I think her best at the time was 95Kg. and we both wanted to see her break 100.  Up until that point, I’ve only see a few seasoned female lifters handle 100kg. in a full Olympic squat for reps and two of them were former coaches of mine.  CC casually starts warming up by throwing on the 20kg. plates and proceeding to crush some rock bottom squats with no belt or knee sleeves.  In my opinion, it’s best to leave out as much assistance gear as possible during the first few years of training.  I told CC that when she turns 21, she can start wearing rehbands.  She’ll add the belt at age 23.  So she’s working up to the higher numbers without any sign of slowing down.  I ask her if she needs a spot and she gracefully declines, “I’ll need a spot when I go for 105.”  Fair enough.  I continue with my morning “old man” routine.  I feel each rep in my bones as I gradually speed up to 50%.  I probably take the bar for a good 20 minutes before I hit a few close grip muscle snatches at 50kg.  OG style.  I’ll rest my aching, brittle bones on my bench as I watch the vulgar display of power on the far platform.  CC just destroyed 95kg. for a set of 5 like it was a fucking broomstick.  She loads 105 and motions me to pick up my haggard old body off of my bench and do something useful for a change and spot her.  The early 90s hip-hop is on full blast by this point.  You wouldn’t even be able to have a conversation with someone 3 feet away from you.  So I just nod at her, letting her know that, “Yes. You can do this.  Go get it.  And I’ll be right here if you need a spot.”  She grinds out the first 3 like she’s got pneumonic pistons for legs.  She takes a few breaths before diving down for her fourth.  Everyone in the gym has their eyes glued to her and their arms up in the air as if they were trying to help her force the bar up with their energy.  She wastes no time.  3 more deep breaths and she’s back down for her fifth.  The screams of everyone around her combined with the overbearing 90s hip hop seem to be the only things keeping the bar inching upward.  She’s halfway extended.  One more inch and she’ll be beyond the sticking point.  Time stalls for a good second as my old eyes have seen enough and I offer my hands up to the bar for some assistance.  Spotting the bar was like holding a handful of feathers in a helium balloon as the bar finally drifts upward, finishing the rep.

CC immediately twists around as if she’s going to flying uppercut me to oblivion.  Her eyes burned fiery red with a glance so fierce that it would’ve turned a lesser man to stone.  But thanks to my training age, my bones have already turned to rusty iron.  The only thing that keeps them mobile is motor oil, rehbands and ace bandages.  “DID YOU HELP!”  It was more of a statement than a question.  But she already knew the answer as my eyes looked to the ground in shame.  I don’t know where she got it from, but someone from the crowd must have thrown her a glass bottle which she broke against the now racked 105kg. and shanked me in the kidney.  And that’s how I died.

Moral of the story: I should have LET HER WORK.  She might have made the rep.  She might have stalled for another 5 seconds and I would’ve eventually had to spot her.  In any case, she now squats 115 for a set of 5. And I, having died 6 months ago, rose like a phoenix from the ashes only to die a little more each day like Prometheus chained to the rock as punishment for bringing fire to mankind.

Bro, Prometheus is actually pretty yoked. I wonder what he could clean.

Side note:  I dump back squats all the time.  It’s perfectly safe.  All you need to do is raise your hands upward and surrender as you realize that you won’t be able to stand up.  Surrender.  And walk out of the squat in shame.

8 Responses to “One Final word on DOING WORK.”

  1. Sean said

    We need a LET ME WORK t-shirt. I’ll buy two, at least.

    • bclaridad said

      let me work . . . on that. lol I was actually thinking of doing that. I’m sure big cliff wouldn’t mind.

      • Dave said

        Would you ship to the UK? I’d be severely tempted by a LET ME WORK T-shirt, even though I’m dirt poor.

      • bclaridad said

        Have you checked my store? I use spreadshirt and I’m fairly certain that they ship to the UK. I was thinking just the phrase in like a big ass font. I don’t really feel a picture necessary. What do you think?

  2. Daniel said

    Post of the year.

  3. Dave said

    You’re right, I think they do. Text only could work, was kind of hoping for that drawing of the guy pulling the head off the lion though. Wearing that in the gym would make me feel marginally better while lifting utterly mediocre weights.

  4. […] the new line of professional work attire.  ”LET ME WORK,” an ode to getting totally jacked beyond reason.  Here’s to finishing up your set no […]

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