No You’re Not

Slowly and with intention, I placed my right hand, then my left on the bar.  Taking a deep breath, I pressed my lower back into the bench, closed my eyes and exhaled.  Eyes remaining shut, I focused my efforts and mentally told myself, “you are strong,” while simultaneously mouthing the affirmation in quiet agreement.    

Inner self settled, I opened my eyes, pushed the bench press bar up from its resting position on the rack and over my chest and down, beginning the fourth and final set.  It was ‘rep max’ day.  I was to do 4 sets of six reps of my max load.  My arms were shot. I’d increased the weight load from my previous lift the prior week and had been unable to get to six and had to settle for five reps on each set.  Which really wasn’t a “settle” more of a reality of increasing load.  Each set, I’d hit fatigue faster/sooner.  This set was no different.

Down, up, one.  Repeat. Again.  My arms trembled my chest screamed, I forced my lower back into the bench as the rest of my body tensed in a unified effort to complete those last two reps.   

Down... 

U... 

...the departure of upper body strength was complete.  I was unable to fully extend my arms for the fourth rep.  Quivering from muscle fatigue, I refused to quit and once again said to myself, “you are strong.”  A voice in my head said, “No you’re not.” I pulled my arms back toward my shoulders, racking the bar in the lowest of the two cradles.  Acceding my strength was on a temporary unapproved hiatus, I verbally laughed at the “no you’re not,” that had come out of nowhere.  I didn’t care if I looked odd laughing as I lay on that bench beneath a bar racked lower than where it’d started.

It was funny.  

All the work I’d put into renewing my mind.  To evict the previous “I’m not strong enough” tenants and replace them with the surety of the strength my coach was building within me.  Yet, there remains traces of the antecedent, lippy and defiant as all get out...”no you’re not.”  Actually, even though it wasn’t evident at that given moment, yes...YES, I am!  

And just in case they may read this some day, The Lord bless the person who created the lower cradle on the bench press rack, it comes in handy when your beliefs are stronger than your current reality!