The Sticky Point: Why You Miss Lifts and Lose Opportunities in the Gym

I heard my name called and I approached the platform. I put the barbell on my back and felt the weight of 244 lbs. I squatted down and came over halfway up. Right here, the point when your body feels almost idle and unmoving mid-lift is what powerlifters call the “sticky point”. When you hit the “sticky point”, there are only two options: to give everything you have or fail. So there I was frozen like Elsa when she decided to Let it Go and before I could even try to push harder through it, I gave up. I was so close to completing the lift but in that moment, the moment when I felt that maybe, just maybe I could fail, I believed it. That self-doubt ended up being the difference between winning second and third place. It was my first time ever squatting that much weight. It was my first time ever competing in front of a room full of people. But it was not the first time that I have doubted myself.

When you sign up for a competition, you are dedicating three months of your life for less than three minutes on the platform. Training can be grueling but sometimes it is only as grueling as your mind allows it to be. In my 12-week training cycle, I saw how cancerous being uncertain of my abilities could be. It would take over my body when I had a heavy lifting day. It would take over my emotions, leaving me teary-eyed when I second-guessed myself on a lift. But the way it affected my mind was the most gruesome. You never know just how mentally tough you are called to be when you approach weight you have never done and your thoughts take over before you even know if your body can take it.

During those times I see just how closely lifting intersects with my life as a whole. I have second-guessed myself and have missed opportunities in life that I was capable of taking. In the gym, I have missed lifts that I have trained weeks to complete. Call it being hard on myself but I am capable of more, we all are. We are more than lost possibilities. We are far greater than the little voice in our head saying that the chance of failure is too much for us. So, when you feel the weight of your self-doubt on your back and you hit your sticky point, it is your platform to choose: fall beneath the weight or push through like hell.