One of the things I’m most looking forward to is getting back in the gym. It’s personal for me – I tore my ACL last year, and before that injury (which was not related to lifting), I was chasing some personal bests for squatting and bench press. After my surgery in January, I obviously couldn’t do any squats, and a week after my physical therapist cleared me to go back to the gym, the pandemic hit.
A lot of you know I work out with Michael Hughes, who is an expert. We’re like Batman and Robin in the gym. (I’m Robin in this scenario, if Batman knows he can’t leave Robin alone with the weights or he’ll hurt himself.)
One of the most important pieces of strength training is a good spotter. If you’re just doing light weight, you don’t really need a spotter, but if you’re training to get stronger, and you want to shoot for PRs, the only way you’re going to get there is with a spotter. Because to find your max weight, you’ve got to fail.
After all, who knows if you could have thrown a 2 1/2 pound weight on each side of that squat bar and lifted five more pounds?
On the other hand… let’s say you DID hit your max, and you try for more weight anyway. The last thing you want to do is not be able to lift that weight, and end up dropping 350 pounds on yourself.
So when we’re squatting, the spotter is right there behind, hands ready to grab the bar. If I stall out, if the weight starts to drop, he helps lift the bar back up.
Spotters only work if you trust them, though. That was something I had to learn early on. Mike would say, “I’m here. I’ve got you. Just do it.”
And really, when you have a good spotter, that’s the most important is that constant encouragement.
Because when you find your max weight, there’s a secret: it’s more than you think you can lift. It feels too heavy. When you come up under that squat bar and the weight settles on your shoulders, you have to psych yourself up.
Then you drop. The weight pushes you down, to the bottom of the squat.
That’s the easy part.
Then comes the lift. And when you’re maxing out, there’s a spot you want to stop, a spot where, if the weight’s gonna drop, it’s gonna be here.
This is the moment when the spotter shouts out, “C’mon! Get it!”
And… I’m not going to lie… most times I let out a shout. <shout>
I know, I know. Nobody likes that guy in the gym. But I’m telling you… when you’re at your limit and you have to give it one more good push to break through… that’s the most natural reaction.
That <shout> is my body’s way of being fully present to the pain, embracing it but also refusing to be ruled by it.
Throughout this series, we’ve been exploring the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and I want to suggest – as silly as it probably sounds – that the Holy Spirit is our spotter.
The Spirit is with us, in the trenches of life, so to speak. The Spirit knows better than we do what – by God’s grace – we’re capable of.