When Will It Be Enough?
Posted by Michael Vacanti
I remember a time when my squat was 135 pounds. I saw a friend in the gym one day, a guy a couple years older than me and someone I admired. He was front squating 185 with amazing form. I remember thinking:
“Man, if I could even back squat 185 like that I’d be so happy. I would be content squatting 185 for the rest of my life if I could be there right now.“
Back in November, two months ago, I was squatting 185 for reps. My squat hadn’t budged in a year. I would do a set at 185 then try for 195 only to squeeze out a few shitty reps. I remember thinking:
“Man, if I could just squat 225 with perfect form I’d be content forever.”
Yesterday I PR’d squats 275×3.
Now all I can think about is how quickly I can get to 3 plates.
No longer do I have the “Man, if I could just…” mentality. That has faded. I have seen what kind of gains are possible when your actions reflect your desires. I’m glad I didn’t get my “squat 185 for life” wish, I surely would have grown discontent within months.
My training has changed as of late. What I’m doing hasn’t changed much. It is the why that has changed. And this has led to a change in intensity and focus.
I remember lazily going through the motions in the gym while declining second servings at dinner. I was a trim 160 and took pride in having visible abs. I was weak as hell. My training and diet were a means to stay lean enough to catch some extra eyeballs during the summer months. It was validation. It was vain. And it was pathetic.
My reason for training has changed in the past few months. I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in my gains. Gym is a sport I play – in many ways it has filled a void absent since I stopped playing hockey competitively.
Is a PR comparable to an overtime goal or a section championship victory? Unlikely. Few things in this life compare to playing team sports with your best friends.
But I do know that there are few times in my life I have felt as content and at peace as I do after my 5th set of heavy squats or deadlifts. My vision is blurry and my body pumps with blood and glycogen. I grab a bar or rack to keep myself from fainting. I’m elated. I have a dumb smirk on my face as I wobble toward the drinking fountain. But it is the only time I ever feel like I could die without worry or fear.
When Will It Be Enough?
I don’t know. I don’t think there is an answer. It is the pride and sense of accomplishment, the increased confidence and swagger, the physical and mental improvements – It is these that fluidly transition from within the gym to the outside world.
Like many arenas in life, the journey appears to be the destination.