Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flirting With Failure

If you happen to have the Enter the Kettlebell! workbook created by Anthony DiLuglio. RKC, of Art of Strength, the phrase "Do not flirt with failure" will be very familiar to you.

He's not talking about that sleazy guy who's been hanging around your daughter, though. You know, him:

Instead, what DiLuglio means is that if you can't complete all your reps with the weight you've chosen, you should put down (or drop!) your kettlebell rather than risk an injury.

This is very good advice. Even if you end up putting a ding in your floor, better a damaged floor than a damaged rotator cuff. Really. A damaged floor is pretty easy to fix, but a damaged rotator cuff may require surgery and months of rehabilitative work.

On the other hand ... if you want to grow as an athlete or as a person, sometimes you've got to push the envelope a little. You have to step outside your comfort zone and take some risks. Inevitably that means flirting with failure. If you pretty much know from the get-go that you can accomplish everything you undertake, you're not going to achieve as much in the long run as the person who sometimes bites off a little more than she can chew. In the context of getting stronger, that means imposing a demand on the body that it's not quite capable of meeting in its current state. If you dare to fail, you give your body a reason to get stronger.

Of course there's a smart way to do this, and there's also a stupid way. If you're a guy and you're looking to set a new PR on your bench press, by all means load on those plates ... just make sure you're working with a spotter so that if the lift doesn't go as planned, you don't end up getting crushed under that heavy bar. Minimize your chances of failure by doing some strategizing, or by hiring a trainer to figure out a plan of attack.

In other words, flirt with failure ... but use protection and for God's sake don't marry it!