We've all been there, and that's exactly where I was one day in my local gym, flat on the bench press, with the weight laden bar dangling over my head, three quarters of the way up, threatening to come crashing down on my cranium! Thank goodness for spotters!
I finally managed to hoist myself up to a seated position, my head hung low with the disappointment that I had failed to set my new record weight, when I saw a pair of old white canvas sneakers topped by a pair of black dress socks. I looked up to see Marty, the crusty old gym rat nobody paid much attention to, dressed up in his usual old coach's shorts (you know...the ones with the two buttons at the top and the skintight support that no one really wants to envision) hovering over me with one of those "Are you just going to quit sissy boy!" looks on his face.
Memories of my old elementary school gym teacher came streaming back through my mind...memories of trying to climb that damned rope all the way to the top and having Mrs. Kavorkian (at least I THINK it was a Mrs...could have been a MR.; we never could quite tell) yelling at me to keep climbing while my arms threatened to give out, sending a gangly 9-year old crashing to the floor in a twisted pile of bones and flesh. (This article's turning out to be a bit more gory than I expected!)
"It's all in your mind, boy!" croaked Marty.
"Huh?" was about all I could squeek out in my attempt to recover from the thrashing my body had just received on the bench.
"Your mind is what's keeping you from getting that last rep out!" he repeated.
There were rumors that Marty used to train with Arnold in California "back in the day", but I image there are thousands of 50-somethings out there who are claiming the same accomplishment. Anyway, it was enough to make me get past my initial reluctance to hear what he had to say and ask for his "advice", unsolicited as it may be.
"Here's a little trick I learned in my years that will help you get past this hurdle." he said.
"Oh boy...here it comes...blah, blah, blah!" my mind countered.
He continued, "Next time you find yourself in this little predicament where you can't get those last few inches out on your own, simply look at your dominant hand without turning your head."
"WHAT?!...That's it?!...That's your great advice?!!!!!"
He simply turned and left with the parting comment, "That's my advice, take it or leave it."
Well, after a short break I was back on the bench, Marty's advice lingering on my mind, when I soon found myself in the same position...the bar 12 inches from a record, my face beet-red, spit launching from my mouth in the general direction of my spotter...when I gave in and focused my eyes and attention to my dominant right hand. Almost like magic the bar started creeping up...9 more inches...6 more inches...VICTORY!
I'll be damned if that crazy old coot's idea didn't work!
I looked around to thank him when I noticed him over in the corner by the dumbbell rack, a smug smile on his face, giving me a big "thumb's up".
I don't know if Marty truly ever trained with Arnold. But I do know that this little trick has helped me countless times reach personal goals in all of my lifts. So give it a try...or don't. In the words of a crusty old gym rat...
"That's my advice...take it or leave it!"