Over The Wall…

One of the best feelings we can have in the gym is when we accomplish something we’ve never done before.

First pull-up. First handstand. First muscle up. Being able to walk on your hands. A snatch PR, a clean PR, the list goes on and on.  As a coach, I’m really lucky to witness these kinds of accomplishments from our athletes on almost a daily basis.

However, every now and then an athlete says to me “I’m just not progressing anymore.”

There are a lot of factors that go into why an athlete may feel this way, but the most common among them is a self-imposed “ceiling” or “wall”.  This can be a mental block for some, and a physical one for others, but the truth is, they are often more imaginary than they are real.

It is true that the closer you get to your genetic potential, the harder it is to keep progressing, BUT very few people on earth are anywhere near that close to their genetic potential in ANYTHING.

So, when you impose a ceiling or a wall on yourself on a movement and tell yourself you’re not progressing – is there really a wall? Or is it all just a story you tell yourself?

Our job is to take you outside of your comfort zone. I want you to realize that the limits you put on yourself I rarely agree with…! With that in mind, these self imposed limits happen to everyone…

A little story about me.

I’m fortunate to be well suited for weight lifting, and while my lifting numbers have always been solid, there was always one thing that evaded me – the 300lb clean.

There was always something about that number that seemed unrealistic and I couldn’t get to.  I broke my wrist doing cleans early on in my CrossFit journey – I hadn’t been taught how to do them safely and I caught one wrong and crushed my wrist.  Needless to say, there was a significant mental block when trying to get under a barbell.  That barrier still exists today, but it’s something I’m working on.

For whatever reason, I thought that if I could just clean 300lbs, it would be all I needed to do to make myself a more competitive athlete.  As if there was some magic club that once you could lift a certain amount you got to learn all the secrets of the top 1% of the sport. I’m still waiting for my invite into that club….

Up until October last year, I did not have 1 single clean PR in 3 years. I attempted 300lbs at least 50 times. Never happened.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter at all.  Sure, it’s a personal achievement and we all have personal goals we’re trying to reach, but at the end of the day lifting a certain amount of weight in any particular movement doesn’t really matter.  There are literally thousands of athletes in CrossFit that can lift that weight so as a benchmark it’s not that significant.

In October, I finally did it. Within weeks I had successfully moved past that arbitrary number and progressed even further.

The real significance of this accomplishment was pushing myself over that self imposed wall and hitting that weight because it meant a lot to ME.  The reward wasn’t the weight, it was the years of practice and the thousands of reps and the focus on improvement of my technique that allowed me to mentally get past that number.

I get it. This is hard, and the better we get, the harder we work – the progress comes slower.  The answer is always going to be “do the work”.  Sure, ring rows aren’t as impressive as butterfly pull-ups, but if we don’t build our pulling strength, shoulder stability, core strength, beat swing, timing, grip strength and muscular endurance, we’ll never get to a butterfly pull-up!  Do the hard things. Put in the work and I promise you it will pay off – maybe not tomorrow, maybe not for months at a time, but if we do things properly and build our skills with a strong foundation, there’s no limit to how tall that tower can get.  Be patient, enjoy your effort every day and encourage yourself as much as you encourage others.

So if you have the voice in your head that tells you that you’re stuck – there’s a wall in front of you and it will never get over it – let’s spend 5 minutes together – say it out loud to me, and I’ll make sure you walk away knowing you can jump right over that wall one day.

See you in the gym.


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