The Question

Before we begin, I would like to mention that this is officially my 100th post on this site.

It seems only fitting that I use this time to tell a story that epitomizes what Advanced Training is really all about.

It's not about fancy gear, the perfect program, or a big time facility.

It's about building an ATMOSPHERE where EVERYONE can push themselves (and each other) past their normal, thinkable limits.

Coach Riddler?

A few months ago, I posed what I thought to be an unanswerable question to one of our athletes. It came immediately after one of our "CHALLENGE" sessions. (If you do not know what CHALLENGE is, please click the previous link. It makes the story much more enjoyable.)

In this particular session, no one athlete held the belt, so we had everyone in the program bench 75% of their previously tested max for repetitions.

The person who completed the most reps became the official "Challenge Holder" and got to take home "The Belt" (as shown below).

"The Belt"

There is only one caveat....

If you fail on any rep, you get disqualified.
This means that if you smash out 12 reps and fail on the 13th, you get nothing...

You lose!

Good day sir!

Redundant Text For Those Who Don't Know Willy Wonka

Back to my unanswerable question ...

It came immediately after one of our athletes (James Uske) finished his max rep set.

James had gotten 12 reps and was rightfully feeling pretty good about himself.
As he got up from the bench, I asked him ...

"If you knew that 13 reps would have made you the undisputed Challenge Holder, would you have stopped at 12?"

James gave me the "Eye of the Tiger" and quickly said "Of Course".

Did he answer correctly?

By saying "Of Course", did he inadvertently mean that he did not push himself to the limits during this competition? Was he openly stating that he is not really a true competitor, because he is unwilling to compete against himself?

What if he said "No"?

Would that mean he was complacent? Was he "okay" with not being better than everyone around him?

Rather than get inside his head, I am going to post exactly what James emailed me later that night after he had some more time to think about the situation. (Please note, I did not say another word to him about this topic after I asked my original question.)

Guess What Ivy League School This Is From?

He not only gives the right answer, he also paints a perfect picture of what we are REALLY trying to do at Advanced Training.

"Today you asked me a pretty simple question. Or what I thought was pretty simple question at the moment. A question I didn't put much thought into at the time and immediately blurted out an answer because I was pretty pumped up when you asked..and therefore my answer was a lie. You asked me, theoretically that if putting up a 13th repetition on the bench press my last set would have made me a challenge holder.. would I have been able to put it up? My initial reaction was OF COURSE! My trainer, a man I know who is a tremendous competitor, just asked me that if there was a challenge on the table for me to win.. just by putting everything I had into one last rep.. would I have been able to put the last rep up that I had just failed on? I had no doubt that I would let myself fail on a challenge. But, I lied to myself at the moment without even knowing it. Truth is, I already gave it everything I had on those 12 reps. It did not matter if there was a challenge on the table or not. Sure, you can make a case for adrenaline, but that is only helpful if one harnesses it properly.. and I was already doing that  from the start. 
This hit me the second I walked out of that gym. And yeah, maybe I am over analyzing this, but this is the way advanced training has changed my way of thinking. It has taught me to put every single ounce of everything I have into everything I do. Leave nothing on the table. And this goes beyond the gym, beyond the weights. You have helped me become a stronger and more confident individual in many ways that go beyond what one sees on our workout sheets. And I thank you for that."

James U 

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