April 6, 2021

#TrueTalkTuesdays 118

I reminded myself this past Sunday how close failure is to greatness.

Last Tuesday, I trained Jiu Jitsu and for some odd reason I woke up the following day with a very sore shoulder. I didn’t have anyone attack it, use it in a bad way, or even remember any event that could have agitated it. But the reality of my stiff shoulder shows that something went wrong or perhaps just overuse.

Either way, with my retreat coming up to Costa Rica, I didn’t want to risk making it worse. So I spent the next few days doing cardio, massage therapy, sauna sessions, and a lot of active recovery. On Sunday, it was feeling just a tiny bit sore, and recovered full range of motion with no discomfort.

So I wanted to catch up on the lift I skipped. But this was a heavy deadlift session, so I was a bit concerned. But, I conduct my warm ups, some wide grip lat pull downs, and then warm up on deadlifts: 135×10, 225×6, 275×2, 315×1, 365×1, 395×1. All the warm ups went smoothly, so I then jumped into the top set, which I projected to be 430×4.

The weight came up easier than expected, and I actually overshot and got 5 reps in at 430lbs. I then did some come down sets at 365x4x2, and 355×4. I was a bit relieved I made it through what I considered the “hard” part of the lift.

But I was wrong.

My next exercise was rear foot elevated split squats with 130lbs for 4 sets of 8. This really kicked my ass. I saw stars a few times, and after I completed them, I had to lay down and rest a minute before completing the workout, which still had 2 exercises left, before I had a 20 minute segment of alactic capacity work. I have a feeling that the exertion from the deadlifts kicked in late, as the rest of the workout was much tougher than usual.

I was hurting. While my workouts are generally pretty tough, I usually handle them pretty well and finish strong. After I completed this workout, I was dead. I had a 30 minute sauna session, another massage and some physical therapy afterwards. But waking up today, I’m feeling my whole posterior chain is tight as hell.

From a performance stand point though, the 430lbs for 5 reps on deadlifts was a new personal record for me. It took a hard push to get me through that, and while I practiced caution as necessary, there is always a lingering danger when striving for a better performance.

I think it’s important to be aware of this, as if you think you can get the most out of yourself without risking something, you are fooling yourself. It reminds me of the conversation I had with BJJ Black Belt, UFC Veteran, Author, and Public Speaker Eliot Marshall on the latest podcast of Breaking the Guard (coming out on Wednesday). He said something that stuck with me, which is,

“There is always a cost.”

Whether it is time, money, blood, or what have you – a sacrifice must be made when reaching for greatness. The awareness keeps you on your toes, and makes you appreciate it much more.


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

  • Pushing through a workout or grappling session when I know I am injured, or recently injured but feel “pretty good,” always seems like a gamble. Sometimes I feel better afterwards, and sometimes tell myself I should have done something less strenuous. When you are practically addicted to grappling, or lifting, running, etc., it’s hard to tell yourself, “No.”

    • It definitely can be. Another way of phrasing this that I tell students is that there is a thin line between being a hero or a fool. When you escape that arm bar that looked super tight, people will tell you how bad ass you are. But if your arm gets snapped instead, then people will rush to tell you how stupid you are for not tapping, lol!

      There is a time for being a tough, and a time for being smart. When you are young and first start out training, toughness is important to develop. No one is born tough – it has to be learned. And the only way I know of teaching it is the “hard way”. It is riskier and more injury prone, which is way it is preferable to learn when you are young, as you can recover really quick and won’t have to suffer much.

      But once you develop toughness, it is like riding a bike – it isn’t forgotten. There is no need to continuously train for it. I think this is the mistake people make – they keep trying to develop toughness that has already been developed. At that point, you are just being a fool. I’m not judging – as I made that mistake plenty of times unfortunately.

  • Roelf Campher says:

    Anything worthwhile takes sacrifice Rule no 1. This is a fact of life and a given, not an assumption but a reality

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