Last week a client of mine, who we can refer to as "X," started a new 4 week training block in her program emphasizing strength and power. This will be X's 4 month working with me and although the progress towards the ultimate body composition goal has been slower than I'd hoped I have watched X make leaps and bounds of progress in her self-efficacy, self-confidence, and enjoyment from physical activity.
I mean when X started with me it was an accomplishment to just get through the warm-up without running into a wall of doubt and resistance, but over the last 4 weeks anything that could resemble a wall has largely vanished.
X has started to believe in her abilities and capabilities when it comes to physical tasks, but as I came to find out last week at the start of her next training block she still held some preconceived beliefs about what she was physically capable of lifting.
In particular X was concerned about what weight she should use for the new rep and set scheme on a DB Goblet Squat and was unsure about selecting a weight that she had not yet attempted, but was confident it was to heavy for her.
My question to X was "How do you know you can't do it if you have never tried?" Her response of course was that there was no way she'd be able to lift that at her age and current condition.
This response is was what got me thinking about limitations, those that are real and those that are not.
What I have begun to see in my experience working with clients, especially those that are "middle age," is that people hold many preconceived notions about what they can and cannot do or what they should and should not do many of which are directly related to their age or standing in life.
For example in my story with X, her belief that she could not lift a certain amount of weight was not founded on any type of logic or evidence, but rather just shear belief that because she is "middle aged" and "not-in-shape" she can't possibly lift something that heavy. When she really has no reason to believe whether she can lift it or not because she has never tried meaning she has never failed at it or succeeded at it.
This illustrates a really important hurdle that we have to get over both in the gym and in life if we hope to be successful in either setting. We need to be aware of the limits placed on us including those created by ourselves, others, and situational factors. Once we have made ourselves aware of all the limitations we believe are on us we can then begin to sort through which of these limitations are real, which are not, and which are self-imposed either logically or illogically.
I think what most of us will find is that many of the limitations we have identified are only in existence because we have imposed them on ourselves without reason or evidence to support the limitation other than what someone has told us, what we believe to be expected, or what has been done before. None of these reasons though can lend themselves to a logical explanation for any of these limitations.
The way to overcome this dilemma is to start testing and pushing the limitations you have imposed upon yourself. Don't think you can run a mile well then try running a mile. Don't believe you can have a stomach at 50 year old? Maybe it is time to clean up the diet and really give it a go.
By testing these limits we can finally establish which are real and which are nonexistent. In addition by breaking through long time held belief we can begin to see ourselves in a different way and achieve things we once thought were unobtainable.
Oh and by the way that client I was telling you about earlier with the problem of being unsure about what weight she could handle on a set of DB Goblet Squats, well she destroyed her limitations. I encouraged her to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. So this client began selecting weights above what she had ever picked up before. First set of five with 40lbs no problem, second set of five with 50lbs no problem, third set of five with 60lbs no problem, and 4th set of five with 70lbs no problem. Each one of these sets was a major PR for my client and it was awesome to see the exhilaration on her face after finishing each set.
The best part though hadn’t even happened. See the final fifth set of this set and rep scheme was composed of 8 reps using the weight you used on your 4th set. And guess what? This client freaking nailed 8 beautiful DB Goblet Squats to parallel depth using 70lbs, a weight she was certain that was 40lbs to heavy for her to lift.
Check out her performance below!
I am telling you these self-imposed limitations are everywhere and unless we start recognizing them and deciding to challenge them we are going to miss out on some of the greatest accomplishments both in life and in the gym.
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training