It’s never the weight. Bar squats at Junior’s Gym, Granada, Nicaragua.

Junior's Gym, Bar Squats, Month 6. Bambooo Fitness

There has been a theme running through the last week of my life that keeps popping up with my training. Whatever the physical challenge that is presented, most of the effort of achieving it involves my mind more than my body.

Bertina reminded me yesterday when we started a bar squat routine that I could do double the amount of weight that was on the bar, but I have to believe it.  The real resistance is fear and underestimation of ability; my mind’s need to set limitations is the real hurdle that has to be overcome. She’s right. As I watch the playback of my few warm up squats with no weights on the bar, I can see my shoulders are hunched with tension breaking the straightness in my back. The video clearly shows me hover and hesitate in the squat above the area where if I sink down another 4 inches I will actually get some real benefit from the motion.

But I know what I am thinking. It’s going to hurt and I am going to get stuck there. Bertina has been there before. Yes, now she can add 90 pounds to the bar, but there was an era of hunched shoulders for her, too. She is there to spot me and if I ever couldn’t get back up, I could either drop the bar down to the safety rail or she would assist me back up. In theory, I can go the distance without any risk to my own well-being.

But trust me, as they add weights in, my form doesn’t get much better. Mentally I am not ready, even if I want this, I need confidence and courage. Out of three sets of 5 reps I might have two squats that demonstrate faith in the process where I am actually sitting deep in the squat and pull out of it by slamming gravity into the soles of my shoes to fight my way back up. Those are my best motions and the ones I want my mind to remember to emulate whatever the weight on the bar.

This is a long process of developing form internally and externally. In reality the two work in tandem, but actually my internal thought process needs to push on ahead where my body is ready to go but needs me to consciously steer it there.