Patience: Applications to Weightlifting, Sports & Life
Written by Fritz Nugent

I would like to use Sarwar as an example here. Many of you know him. He’s the friendly guy in OLY, always smiling, happy, and working hard. He has set goals for snatch and clean & jerk a few times and met those goals each time, and then set new goals. He doesn’t get greedy with his goals. He also doesn’t try to max each week. And when he does max, he doesn’t really MAX. He kind-of maxes. He lifts to about 85-90% of his potential for the day and calls it good.

Is he lazy? Is he leaving gains on the table?

I would say no to both questions. Here’s his reasoning: he doesn’t want to get hurt. And I am in complete support of him. If he never pushes himself off the proverbial training “edge” (the edge is the end of your current tissue or psychological tolerance for any given task, and when you push further than the edge, you fall off, i.e. injury or burnout), then he gets to keep training each week, adding interest to his gains. He keeps getting better. He doesn’t have to take time off to nurse a nagging injury. In fact, he feels pretty good most days. He gets a little sore, but nothing crazy. Nothing serious. and yet his PR’s keep rolling in.

I like to suggest that most people live in the 3-paces-from-the-edge range. This is close enough to reap steady gains over long durations without injury or burn-out. Pushing to 2-steps-from-the-edge you will get better a little faster, and you also risk more. Train ONE STEP from the edge and you may still get a little better, and you also risk A LOT. Everything, maybe. An injury often means starting back over. You have landed on Boardwalk, and you now must pay up your entire savings.

One time I rolled my Jeep in high school and had to spend my entire bank account to fix my engine. I was fish-tailing on a dirt road, living on the edge, and fell off! Ha.

With my own training, I used to live on the edge. For years. And now my body has paid the price, and I can no longer (1.5 years after my back injury) load anything remotely heavy compared to my old PR’s. Don’t be like me. I didn’t have a coach holding me back. I didn’t really know where my edge was, and yet I found it fairly often. I wasn’t unbreakable then, and I’m certainly not, now. And neither are you.

So take a deep breath and relax. The only time to really push towards your edge is if it’s short-term and for a specific reason. Ask me about my smokejumpers and I can tell you how I help them live on the edge for 6 months. But if you don’t have a time-sensitive reason, then take a few steps back and enjoy the view.

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