Sometimes it happens gradually,
sometimes it happens all at once,
but no matter how it happens,
it’s a beautiful experience.
I got a call from a friend of mine a couple nights back. I was worried he had injured himself again, compromising a year of hard work he has put in. Instead, I was ecstatically surprised to hear he had accomplished something he had never done before. My friend threw a pitch 84mph just hours before. I know what you may be thinking, “wait, that’s not even that fast”, but how fast it was only counts in relation to how hard he had thrown before. This is a guy who topped out at just 76mph sixteen months beforehand. Up until the day he threw 84mph, the fastest he had thrown was 81mph. People told him that velocity is just not genetically possible for some people. He didn’t care. He worked on his lower body strength, his mechanics, and his flexibility. Some injuries got in his way and it looked like none of his hard work was paying off. Then it just clicked. A jump of 3mph in one day is incredible, unbelievable, and impossible. Yet it’s not. That’s just how change works sometimes. In big jumps that happen long after you think your hard work should have paid off. Stories like his make me appreciate the uncertain nature of the universe and give me faith in the process of working hard. You will rarely see immediate results. That doesn’t mean growth and positive change aren’t happening in the moment. One must have faith.
Other times progress happens more slowly and you can see it happen on a shorter term basis. We can’t always have a sudden breakthrough. The weight room is a place where steady improvement is the norm. I’m currently four days away from completing the Smolov squat program (Smolov). It’s a 13 week program, but it’s taken me about 17 to complete because of sickness and my body not recovering quite as fast as the program requires. My favorite part about the program’s format is how it has me doing something I’ve never done before every time I’m in the weight room. Over the past few weeks I’ve gone from doing 4×4 (4 reps x 4 sets) at 275lbs to 5×4 to 4×5 to 5×5. Same thing with 290lbs, 3×3 to 4×3 to 3×4 to 4×4. A week before the workout felt hard, I barely completed it, and now it wants me to bump the workload up? How will this be possible? I trust in the process, in my recovery, and the I come out of the last squat on the last set. I’ve done something I’ve never done before. I’ve gotten addicted to that feeling. Going under the bar without complete assurance you can do it because you haven’t ever done it before. However, you believe and it happens.
*An aside: I still don’t know how I psyche myself up so well in the weight room. I used to have to listen to music to get pumped up. Now, it’s a matter of getting real calm in the 3 minutes right after my last set. Deep breaths right into the bottom of my belly. Lean on the squat bar to rest the body. Shut my eyes and breath. Walk around a bit. 2 minutes to go. I start getting active. Shaking out my legs and arms. My breaths quicken. 30 seconds to go. I bounce around a bit. My eyes flare up. Motivational thoughts flood my mind. I’m getting a rush. No one thinks I can. People don’t believe. I don’t care because I do. I’m gonna put this weight up. I’m a bawse! Everyone want to be a great pitcher, but nobody want to put in this hard work. Light weight. Yeeeaaaahhhhhh budddddddyyyyy!!! Let’s goooooooo! And boom. I commence the set.
Back in November I maxed out at 290lbs and now I can lift it for 4 reps in one set! It took a lot of time (more than the program stated, though I had to lengthen it to feel like I was getting enough recovery), but slowly and surely I improved bit by bit. On Wednesday I max out again and I’m hoping to put up at least 320lbs. Another chance to do something that I’ve never done before. I love it. May we all get to experience these breakthrough moments. The big ones and the small ones, because all of them have the divine seed of evolution in them. Transcend limitations.