by Mark Wasson
Failing a lift is something that many think is almost taboo in training. People think
that is in some way an indication that you have or are doing something wrong. I take
an alternative approach to the concept. I do not strive for failure but missing a lift in
training does not deter my motivation or sway my course.
Training to me is fun. I want to challenge myself and learn from each training
session. I understand for my approach to training that failure will just be another
part of training. I learn through failure and ultimately feel that it is beneficial. I feel
that this is the best way to know how my body will respond under ultimately max
loads by periodically approaching max loads. Feeling a heavy load on your back or in
your hands for the first time can feel strange or can quickly remove one’s confidence
in their ability to make the lift. I feel once you utilize some heavier loads in training
this can help dissipate this feeling and can help build confidence under heavier
Missing a lift can happen for several reasons; misgrooving the weight, having an off day, or ultimately being too weak. One thing that is crucial to training for myself is to learn how to fail and miss a lift properly. This means properly setting safety rack heights and being comfortable under heavy loads. People need to be in control of their bodies and know how to properly lower weights to safeties when it ultimately is not going to go up. I believe this comes with experience and ultimately practice. This is crucial to learn early in your lifting/training career so as to not reinforce negative habits. Everyone should understand how to properly miss each lift in safe manner. This will both benefit and reduce chance for injury while approaching maximum loads and can help keep spotters safe from lifters missing lifts poorly. Far too often one can see people bail out of a lift when they start to fail. This can be dangerous for the lifter and the spotters around them.
Losing the fear of failure can free one’s approach to training. Sub-max training is not the best approach for everyone and every person’s goals in training/competition. Avoiding failure like the plague works for some but I believe ultimately they will not reach their full potential unless they push their internal boundaries. I believe that widening a lifter’s perspective on failure/missing lifts in training can help make lifters better.
Mark Wasson is a 3-time National Champion 83kg open class powerlifter and 4th place finished at 2015 Classic Worlds. He has an alternative approach to the idea of missing lifts and can be found on instagram @wassonmark.