Getting Through Bad Days in Weightlifting

Our brains can be rough on us when we have a bad session (or lift) because it has a tendency to naturally focus on the negative. This makes sense if we live in nature and we encounter or perform something negative that our brain would need to latch onto it for future safety but not so helpful when it comes to less severe things going on in our life.

So it can be difficult to turn the negative brain off when you missed that last lift or had a few rough sessions but we need to learn to focus on the positive, turn failures into lessons and accept bad days as just bad days.

Let’s go over a couple of scenarios and practices for those bad training sessions and meets.

The Bomb Out

This is a big one. You have trained for the past 12 weeks to lead up to your meet. You possibly traveled and spent a good amount of money to go out on the platform and miss all of your lifts.

It can be hard to see the positive here but here we go:

- Learning to deal with failure is one of the most import things to experience. You can fail and you will be okay. You can fail and come back.

- Step back and reflect for future success. What was different today? Was I underweight? Was it a bad cut? Did traveling too close to my competition time affect me? Was I stressed about something else? Learn about yourself in these experiences and start recording what you need in the future. Start a checklist for success which only grows with failure.

Bad Training Session(s)

Having a bad day? Having a bad month? Let’s dig into this a bit more.

- Was it really as bad as you are making out to be? So what if you didn’t increase weight from last week. You may have had an amazing training session the week before and now your expectations are too high. Or you made everything leading up to your 85% but missed your goal of 85%. So, people miss shots all the time. Move on or drop the weight. Keep training even if the weights aren’t reflecting “progress” at that moment. It will. Trust me.

- Like above, start a checklist for success. When did I eat today? How much sleep did I get? How stressed am I? Am I trying to enjoy my training? Learn from your experiences. Don’t quite. Take some time to reflect.

Things Keep in Mind

Here are a few things to consider when training. Keep these as a reminder that things are okay and that you are still heading in the right direction.

- Studies have shown that your strength can fluctuate up to 18% each day. This means if you are supposed to hit a single at 90% that day it could feel like 108%. Obviously, multiple factors contribute to this so it can be mitigated/minimized with your “checklist for success” as mentioned above.

- Studies show that training percentages between 75-85% have some of the largest impacts on increasing an athlete’s 1 rep max. So you don’t need to worry about always pushing your weights in training. 85% isn’t hitting that day? Train at 82% instead.

- Lastly, one of the largest factors for success in weightlifting is time. Most athletes reaching a high level in weightlifting have 6+ years of experience. Many of them are over a decade. Just keep training. They all have had setbacks, bad days, injuries, time off, etc. but they stick with it and slowly work their way to the top. It’s okay if you have a bad cycle. Recover and start training.

I’m not saying you can’t express emotion or get upset. I’m saying learn to recognize your feelings as feelings and figure out how to turn negative feelings into positive experiences. Okay, I’m mad. Why and I mad? What can I do? If you are having trouble with this talk to your coach or a training partner you respect. Keep at it. You will get better. Every successful person has been through the same process. It’s part of it.

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