It’s good to celebrate the small wins, but it can be difficult. We tend to focus on big goals, big achievements–and in the case of powerlifting, big lifts.
Now don’t get me wrong: those things are certainly important. The problem is that they occur only infrequently, making it hard to keep motivated toward them. Celebrating smaller achievements can help boost you up when you’re still struggling.
I had two small wins in the gym this week, back to back. Despite only making it to the gym twice (my goal is four times per week), I got in a really good deadlift day, followed by a strong bench day. Neither really saw personal records set for weight. I did three work sets with 385, which isn’t a PR by any means. What was a win for me was my grip; I used a double-overhand grip the whole way through. Now for the non-weightlifters out there, there are three main grips: double-overhand, hook, and alternating. Double-overhand is the most natural, with both hands facing the same way and the thumb over the fingers, like a fist. It’s also the weakest, as your thumb slips and the bar rolls through your fingers. Hook grip sits the thumb UNDER the fingers, which keeps it from slipping, but hurts like hell until you’re good and used to it, because the weight crushes your thumb into your fingers. Alternating has one hand palm up, and one palm down, to keep the bar from rolling out of your fingers. It’s strong, but bothers the tendons in my left hand, and can make the weight wander away from the body on that side–not a good thing.
When I went back to the gym in August last year, I would use double-overhand up until 275 and then swap to alternating grip. I would lose my grip on 315 or above, otherwise. I tried hook, but it hurt enough that I thought more about my thumbs than my form. In the last number of months, I’ve managed to push that threshold up to 385, apparently, and that’s a win for me.
The other small win came during my bench workout. It was dumbbell day, so I did flat and incline press with DBs. Good workout, but nothing amazing. Typically, I then do some assisted dips–assisted because my strength to weight ratio has always been too low to do as an auxiliary exercise otherwise. The last few bench workouts I have been pushing myself up faster than the padded assist platform can go, so I figured I should try to see if I could maybe manage three sets of five dips with no assistance. I was nervous, because I didn’t really want to get up and try dips in front of a crowded weight room, only to fail on the first dip. But I said screw it, and went for it.
My first set I pushed out ten. Ditto for the second set. The third was only five, because my triceps were toast, but that’s still 15 more natural dips than I’ve ever had in a workout before. Small win, perhaps, but it gave me a big smile. And why the hell shouldn’t it?