Coming home from CrossFit 865 today, Drake was on the radio. I didn’t pay any special attention at first, but then his lyrics took hold and caught my attention.
Drake said he ‘wears every single chain, even when he is in the house’. What an idea! I could wear every chain (I don’t have ‘chains’ so I’m going with silicone bracelets) when I got to the crib (my house) and straight kicked it (relaxed and did nothing). I didn’t have to choose! I could wear all of them. Wrist to elbow. I have orange and white Tennessee ones, pink ones to save the ta-tas, even a green one that says “Damn I look good”. I could have more color on me than Christmas Abbott!
Ok ok, so maybe that wasn’t the exact line that caught my attention. Maybe my colorful sleeve dreams will have to wait. The lyrics that captivated me were ‘started from the bottom now we’re here’. More specifically, the started from the bottom part. How fitting for a WOD that featured front squats and frustration.
The WOD was a 10-8-6-4-2-4-6-8-10 sequence of front squats and ring push-ups. I loaded up my bar, chalked my hands, and hefted the bar up onto my front deltoids. One aggressive exhalation of breath later I dropped into my first squat. A full, deep, butt-lower-than-knees squat. At the bottom, I squeezed my body together, drove through my heels, and up I rose. That process was repeated nine more times and then I dropped the bar to the floor. (Side note, I really enjoy dropping weights on the floor at completion of a set! There’s something about that feeling of domination and discarding with a flourish…)
Ten quick ring push-ups later I was back to my bar for 8 more front squats and feeling good. And that’s when things started to go south.
The squatting began like the first set but quickly I knew something wasn’t correct. My right wrist developed shooting pains to the point that I couldn’t hold the bar. I dropped it, and that dropping of the bar was one of being conquered, not as the conqueror. I picked it up and tried again. I got one squat in, then the bar came crashing down again. I moved on and went through my 8 push-ups and when I got back to the bar for my set of six, my wrist denied me.
I couldn’t continue the workout as prescribed. I couldn’t even get the bar onto my shoulders. Apparently my wrists have the flexibility of a 2 x 4.
I had hit workout rock bottom.
The bottom presents two and only two options. The first option is to embrace the bottom, to fall back on your ass, to take a seat, to not continue. The second option is to steel yourself body and mind, grit your teeth, and push yourself forwards and upwards.
I chose option two.
I grabbed some kettlebells and hoisted them up in place of the bar and finished the workout. Even with the modification, it was a good workout. Still had plenty of opportunities to push myself, bar or not. The frustration of wrist pain did not cost me the workout. In fact, sometimes the bottom is our best friend.
Let’s look at the WOD. Squats and push-ups. Where is the most work done, from a kinesiological standpoint? It’s that initial drive through the heel to propel your body skyward at the bottom of your squat. It’s that initial pushing through your hands to return your body from the bottom of your push-ups. If work is defined simply as force times distance, the further the distance (starting from the bottom), the more work we have to do or the harder we have to push. You can’t argue with physics!
Sure, the bottom yields the greatest distance to the top. But it also presents the most complete journey we can take. A full, deep squat will burn your legs more completely than a half squat. Getting demolished by Fran will push you more than just a single ‘No Rep’.
Rehabilitation is the same way. Think of an injury as the bottom of a journey back into fitness. Perhaps you have recently had knee surgery? If you’re an active athlete used to running and jumping whenever you want and now you have to struggle to bend your leg, you are at the bottom. You’re frustrated. You want to get back to normal. But the bottom doesn’t have to be a bad thing! If you had surgery, something was undoubtedly wrong with your knee. With rehab and a positive drive, you will propel yourself out of the bottom and your journey will culminate with a knee that’s better than when you started!
So many sports-related motivational quotes deal with struggle, with the bottom. Take Michael Jordan’s “I have failed many times, but I have never gone into a game expecting myself to fail.” Or what about Muhammad Ali’s “I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion.'” Even The Terminator himself chimed in with “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
So go ahead, bottom out. It’s all about seeing your obstacles as opportunities. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Greeting the bottom with determination. The bottom isn’t the end. The bottom is the beginning.
Life is like a bunch of front squats; when the going gets tough, squeeze your butt cheeks together, press through your heels, and rise like the phoenix. I’m fine with the bottom. I choose to go up. Better than yesterday. I’m starting from the bottom. I’ll get there Drake.