Don’t Rush the Lift

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Something I’ve been working on in the gym is not rushing my deadlift.

Especially as the weights get heavy, there is a strong temptation to walk up to the bar and get it over with. I’m sure it’s a subconscious fear: this is going to be hard; I don’t want to think about it; I just want to do it.

The problem is that a good deadlift relies on timing, stability, and patience.

You’ve got to set your feet, take the slack out of the bar, get your chest up, and essentially sit there feeling how heavy the weight is before you start your pull.

And even then, once you do start pulling, it takes a few microseconds—which can feel like an eternity—for the bar to begin to move.

If you freak out you’ll miss the lift. If you rush it you’ll miss the lift. The only way you make the lift is by learning to stay with it.

It’s not just weightlifting and it’s not just me. It’s an endurance athlete being patient and letting the race come to him. Or an American football quarterback staying in the pocket even as it starts to collapse. Or a soccer player taking her time on the penalty kick. Or a swimmer finding the edge and then holding onto it.

It’s a concept where sport can be a teacher for the rest of life.

When you are faced with challenges, with all manner of life’s heavy lifts, a gut reaction is to rush into it frantically, to do what you can to get it over with. Much like with my deadlift, you don’t want to feel the weight and gravity of the situation.

It could be when you are working on a challenging project and reach the almost inevitable point of being stuck. Or when you are having a difficult conversation. Or when you are developing into a new role.

If you can learn not to rush the lift—to be patient, create a foundation of stability, and stay with it—even if what you are up against feels heavy and scary, you give yourself the best chance at a good outcome.

Whether in sport or any other domain, not rushing the lift requires learning to trust your training, and ultimately, learning to trust yourself. You gain this trust through repeated practice, experience, and if you are lucky, good coaching. I have no idea if it’s a transferrable skill from one domain to another, but I’d like to think it might be. (Some research suggests that it is.)

But even just the mindset shift is beneficial: when you are up against a challenge and feel a little scared and restless and have that deep urge to just go, remind yourself that oftentimes the best thing you can do is not rush the lift.

— Brad

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