I do olympic lifting as my main sport. And even before rupturing my achilles tendon (in a fateful night of rec league soccer), I was stuck. I couldn’t seem to make any progress and lift anything more than what I’d done many months before.
I was very stuck, it turns out. Stuck in my approach and method, stuck with advice from coaches I didn’t really click with, and stuck in a depression that was itself all about stickiness.
Two years later, in a new city that I loved, in a home I cared for, in a gym I liked – I’ve started making personal records again. First, a 105kg clean. Then a bodyweight snatch. Then a 97kg jerk.
The last one – the 97kg jerk – was only a little more than what I could do two years earlier. But it made plain what’d been different for me.
I was trying way too hard. I was using muscles to protect some part of me that had been hurt. And those same muscles did so much work that helped me, but prevented me from moving past the same weight. At a certain point, their activation worked against me, and prevented my progress.
Every day, if you confront the things you can’t do, you have two options: to notice what in you is trying harder than ever to do what you increasingly know it can’t, and to let go of it; or to keep letting it try, and watch what you want elude you.