"Mental Strength, missed lifts and putting yourself back together after a bad training session"

What if I were to tell you that there are NO bad training sessions… even if you miss a rep?

Training is not only physical, but mental as well.  As you prepare your body for competition, each training session is also preparing you mentally for meet day.  There are lessons to be learned during poor training sessions. How you handle your training, variables, and obstacles… prepares you for the challenges you may encounter on the platform.  You will grow as a lifter. And, like most things in sport, the mental strength you build during these trying moments will transfer over to other areas of your life too.  Sounds like a win, win to me.


Every lifter, whether a newbie, intermediate or veteran, will have subpar training sessions. How you handle those mentally & physically challenging sessions makes all of the difference.  Intermediate and experienced lifters have been in the game long enough to weather and learn from missed reps and lack luster training sessions.  They have the perspective to see it as an “off” day.  Sometimes, they can identify the cause or factors that contributed to the bad session:  lack of quality sleep, fatigue, poor or inconsistent nutrition, technical breakdown, mobility issues, etc.  However, sometimes there is no explanation… it was just an “off” day.  Shrug it off, take a day or two off if needed, trust the work you’ve put in up to that point, keep focused on your ultimate goal(s) and keep putting in the work.  Keep moving forward. Tomorrow is another day and there is another week ahead.


Beginner lifters, at times, tend to take missed lifts to heart;  they see it as losing strength, not being good enough, and they start to doubt all of the work and training they’ve put in leading up to that point.  One subpar training session does not cancel out weeks (or months) of hard work and success… just like one cheat meal does not cancel out an entire week of smart nutrition.  If you have a solid program and good coaching, trust the process.  


Factors to Consider after a Poor Training Session:

Lifters tend to forget the variables that affect performance. The more variables you have, the more unpredictable your training sessions or meet will be.  Are you cutting weight and/or training at a caloric deficit? Have you been sleeping properly and getting quality sleep? Have you been inconsistent with your nutrition? Ladies, are you considering where you are in the menstrual cycle? Have you been slacking on adequate water intake and are you dehydrated? Has school or work been hectic and stressful? Are you taking medications? All of these variables can effect performance.


But, sometimes, shit happens and there is no explanation. It happens to everyone, at some point or another. Address it, accept it, and move on.  The longer you dwell on it, the longer it will effect you mentally and mess up your game.


It’s not uncommon for lifters to miss a lift or feel like roadkill during meet prep/peak. Let’s not forget what peaking really is:  we are intentionally overreaching, training harder at higher intensity, so that we become stronger once recovery is achieved leading into the competition.  Training and meet prep isn’t supposed to be a cake walk. It’s supposed to challenge you and push you to your limits. The harder training is, the easier meet day will feel and the more prepared you will be. This is the process of getting stronger, both physically and mentally. Just because you missed that lift in training, when you’re tired, hungry and fatigued… does not mean you won’t crush it on the platform when you are rested, recovered, fueled and full of adrenaline.


Meet Day is long, exciting, and draining. It’s common to feel nervous and anxious the morning of the competition.  I still feel anxious to this day. However, you’ve done the work. This is the time to get in your “zone”, tune out the noise, and get it done.  Trust the work you’ve put in, trust your abilities and your strength.


I always go into a meet with a Plan “A” and Plan “B”.  You never know how you will feel on meet day, or how it will go. So, it’s best to have a plan of action.  Be flexible and open to adjusting your attempt selections based on how the meet is going and you are feeling that day.  Did you cut weight and refeed/recomp not go so well? You may need to have a conservative plan on deck.  Warm ups feeling a little heavier than usual?  Maybe you’ll need to lower your opener, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hit that PR on third attempt!  Take one lift at a time.  Don’t get caught up with a missed lift; move on to the next attempt and attack it like you own it.  Bench didn’t go as planned?  Well start focusing on deadlifts.  A coach, handler or teammate will assist you with this. You are not alone in this sport!


At the end of the day, powerlifting is a strength sport. Put in the work and you will grow stronger, both mentally and physically.  If you don’t think you can lift it, chances are you won’t.  Meet day is a test of overall strength.

Be relentless in your pursuit of strength.