“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.”
– Ernest Hemingway
On the last weekend of June, 12 members of the Bang Fitness Powerlifting team competed at the Canadian Powerlifting Nationals held in Toronto.
The entire weekend was full of incredible displays of strength, courage and resolve, with plenty of yelling, tears and laughter mixed in. Team Bangarang (our team name), made up of a mixture of first time and experienced competitors, took home several 1st and 2nd place trophies in various age groups. And when all was said and done, also took home the “Best Team” award for the event.
Every time I attend a meet, I’m impacted in a way that causes me to reflect on what really matters and motivates me to pursue new levels of excellence. I walk away with an even bigger appreciation for not only the sport of powerlifting, but for competition in general, qualities like consistency and positive self talk, and most importantly of all, the wonderful thing that is community.
Our team didn’t fit into the stereotypical “powerlifting” image. One of our members, Robin Black, described us as “an awesomely goofy team of powerlifting misfits.” Maybe it was the quirky custom singlets (which were freakin’ awesome, by the way) we were wearing, the fact that we have members from all walks of life, or maybe it was that most people on our team never pictured themselves doing a meet when they first started training.
Luckily for us, powerlifting is about more than just a “look.” Success in this simple sport comes down to doing a few basic things really, really well. None of these things are remarkably profound, but they are all qualities that every successful lifter on our team demonstrated over the course of the weekend.
In every physical endeavour – be it losing fat, trying to get swole, trimming some seconds off your marathon time or simply starting an exercise program – consistency is the breeding ground for success. One of my favourite quotes about consistency is from Aristotle and it goes something like this:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
In powerlifting, the most successful lifters over the long term are those who complete the majority of their attempts consistently. Our team believes very strongly in this principle. This is a big reason why all of our lifters had an amazing weekend, making a minimum of 7/9 of their attempts. In addition to that high degree of consistency, everyone hit personal records (PRs) on at least one of their lifts.
PR’s aren’t random; they are the result of consistency of effort, technique, recovery and mindset. They rarely happen if your technique is inconsistent, you miss lifts frequently or you find yourself unable to recover from the work you are putting in.
Ultimately though, whether or not a PR happens all starts with your mindset. Ed Coan, the greatest powerlifter of all time, had the following to say about how he gets mentally ready for a 1000lb squat:
“It’s actually no different than any other weight. Every single set, every single rep has a purpose. Whether it’s a warm-up or a heavy set, you try to approach it the same way and try to make it all feel the same. There’s not that much difference weight wise between 975 lbs and 1000 lbs so it’s not going to feel that much different physically. Mentally it’s going to feel different, unless you prepare for it the same way.”
2. Learning from mistakes.
Making mistakes is seen as a big no-no nowadays, but the truth of the matter is that making mistakes is A-OK. We can always learn something from our mistakes that will make us better if we choose to be a little curious and find out “why” things didn’t go according to plan. Some of our lifters missed commands, cut their squats high and bombed on attempts that were too ambitious. All are very common and normal mistakes. The reason why they all emerged champions came down to how they approached their next attempt, rather than getting discouraged by their previous one.
There’s no point beating yourself up about a mistake you made. Instead, use that information to help you make course corrections so you can avoid making the same mistake in the future.
3. Having fun.
Powerlifting meets are long days. On day 1 we had 36 pro lifters competing, starting at 9:30 AM, followed by 48 amateur female lifters. By the time the final deadlift was lowered, the clock said 10:00 PM.
Considering that the total amount of time you spend warming up and lifting doesn’t add up to much more than an hour, that leaves a lot of down time for you to either, a) be a cranky, super serious curmudgeon who doesn’t talk to anyone or, b) socialize, make new friends and cheer EVERYONE on.
Team Bangarang recommends the latter.
If you are on the fence about competing, I really hope this post inspires you to strut your stuff on the platform. If you feel like you aren’t ready, take the words of James Clear to heart:
“You’re bound to feel uncertain, unprepared, and unqualified. But let me assure you of this: what you have right now is enough. You can plan, delay, and revise all you want, but trust me, what you have now is enough to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to start a business, lose weight, write a book, or achieve any number of goals… who you are, what you have, and what you know right now is good enough to get going.”
If there’s one thing all the members of our team can agree on, it would be that you should start before you feel ready.