Strength Wednesday – 05/17/12 (w/ Bonus Resistance)

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In my quest for lean superhero-ness, I’m following the Wendler 5/3/1 strength training program. Twice a week, Dave and I are hitting the craptastic gym in our Converse to lift heavy and crank through a mini-metcon.

Well, that was unpleasant.

Sometimes, I just don’t want to. I look at the barbell, and I know it’s going to be heavy, and I just don’t want to pick it up.

Yesterday was kind of like that. All day long.

I didn’t want to pick up the barbell. I didn’t want to test recipes. I didn’t want to set the timer and move every 60 minutes. And I really, really, really didn’t want to do the editing I needed to do on two chapters for Living Paleo for Dummies. There was no good reason for my reluctance. I wasn’t tired, ill, hungry, or overwrought (all legitimate reasons to go easy). I just didn’t want to.

Dave calls it “resistance.” I call it pouty face.

Whatever name you give it, it’s that internal stubbornness that wants to prevent you from doing the thing that is true and rewarding and just — and often just what you need.

But here’s the thing that CrossFit, meditation, strength training, writing, and my busted-ass thyroid have taught me about resistance: the only course of action is to ignore the voice of resistance and do the thing.

Pick up the barbell. Pack your lunch. Go to the  meeting. Take a rest day. Sit your godforsaken ass in the chair and do the editing (maybe that one is just me).

Whatever it is that you need to do — for you, for your family, for your career — shut down that voice inside and do it. Then see what happens.

I’ll tell you what happened to me yesterday. I picked up the damn barbell and put it down… and picked it up and put it down. And before I could even really put a full-on pout on my face, I was done. I’d completed eight beautiful reps at 90% of my max. Hmmmph.

And when I finally sat my sorry butt in the chair to do my editing, it took one hour — One hour! I tortured myself all day thinking about it, and it took one hour. And you know what? It was fun, too. Hmmmph X 2.

In meditation, the idea is not to be completely shut off from the outside world, but to focus on the breath moving in and out of our bodies, while we also simultaneously acknowledge the sensations around us — smells, sounds, tingles, tickles, itches, whatever — without getting caught up in them. Interesting, there’s an itch. Hmmm, I’d like to stop now. And then a gentle return to paying attention to the breath.

Overcoming resistance is a similar experience. The answer is to simply focus on doing the thing that resistance is very clearly telling me not to do. I acknowledge the resistance — Hi, Resistance! What up, bro?! — but I keep on moving.

It’s not unlike when I wrote about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable on the front squat. Once I stop fighting the sensation, it melts away. But to be clear, it’s not the same as surrendering to it. Rather, the trick is to almost embrace resistance, and when it gets close enough to wrap your arms around it, you steal its power: Come here, Resistance! I’m gonna give you a big hug! [noogie, noogie]

5:00 elliptical
PVC shoulder mobility
10 slow PVC Frankenstein squats + 10 PVC good mornings
10 slow PVC back squats + 10 PVC good mornings
10 slow PVC OH squats + 10 PVC good mornings
straight-leg march


3 @ 70% of max = 120#
3 @ 80% of max = 135#
max reps @ 90% of max = 155# – I did 8.

Overhead Press:
3 @ 70% of max = 60#
3 @ 80% of max = 70#
max reps @ 90% of max = 75# – I did 5.

bonus fun: 10 reps @ 55#

How do you overcome resistance — with a hug or a kick in the ass?

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  • James says:

    It’s funny how getting through something you don’t want to do and looking back on it usually ends with a “That wasn’t that bad.”

    I am like that with getting needles stuck into my body. Thanks to some traumatic experiences when I was a kid, I hate needles.

    Although, I have been able to overcome the fear better as I’ve matured. And plenty of times now I say “That wasn’t that bad” after getting a shot or getting my finger pricked for a blood draw.

    I didn’t even know I got my flu shot this year for example.

  • Kelly says:

    I just sat down a wrote the stupid project charter that I have been ignoring for the last three weeks.

    Yesterday, I surprised myself with a double PR. But when I loaded the barbell all I could think was, “I don’t wanna. It’s heavy.”

    In both cases, it is safe to say that I am filled with satisfaction to have kicked the crap out of my undeserved resistance.

  • Beth says:

    “Whatever it is that you need to do — for you, for your family, for your career — shut down that voice inside and do it. Then see what happens.”

    Funny. I really needed to hear that today. I am heading back to work FULL time next week – an AWESOME opportunity, but after being part time outside the home and a full time mom for the past 10 years I have been filled with angst and dread. So seeing your writing stopped me dead. Hmm…I can see what happens. What a relief! Thank you.

    Also, for your birthday you received a new eyeliner? Which brand do you prefer? I’m all about great food, great reading and MAKEUP…although your Betsy Johnson shoes caught my eye too.

  • Emily says:

    SO true … I just finished two work projects that I’ve been procrastinating on for WEEKS! And neither one was that bad once I finally sat down and did them. And they didn’t take nearly as long as I feared.

  • Lindi says:

    Have you read Steven Pressfield’s DO the Work? It’s exactly on this theme. Sometimes you just have to resist the resistance.

  • Cathy says:

    I needed this – thanks! Now I’m going to go do what needs doing.

  • Lydia says:

    I am definitely *not* a kick-in-the-ass motivated person. One of the things I appreciate most about the coaches at my local CrossFit is they seemed to instinctively know that I don’t respond well to aggression to push myself. They use a perfect mix of patience and encouragement when I get tired or scared.

    And I’ve been putting off some work stuff, too. WHY AM I (not) DOING THIS?