Stop Saying “I Should Be Able To…”

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by TARYN HAGGERSTONE
You need to stop saying I should be able to do ‘x’ – there is no should, just what you can do and what you need work on in order to be able to do what you want to

the wise, and probably grumpy (it was 6:30am after all) Alexi Bergero(aka my coach)

Quarterfinals at the 2013 Taranis Titan Challenge

Double-unders during the Quarterfinals at the 2013 Taranis Titan Challenge

A couple of weeks ago I was getting frustrated with my cleans (which happens pretty frequently as it is a movement I struggle) and during a morning class said something along the lines of

Based on my front squat and my jerk (225lb and 190lb, respectively), I should be able to clean way more than 160lb – what the f*#$?!

And as any good coach should when their athlete starts down a ‘destructive’ thought pattern, Alexi pretty much shut me up right there and told me that if I wanted to improve I needed to remove the phrase “I should” from my vocabulary (at least in that context…I’m sure he would be OK if I said something along the lines of “I should go to the store and get bacon”).

Alexi pretty much shut me up right there and told me that if I wanted to improve I needed to remove the phrase “I should” from my vocabulary
And he was 100% right. Since that class I’ve thought about it a pretty decent amount – probably more than he realized it (like I said this conversation went down during a 6am class and I was being a bit of a whiny brat) – and made a conscious effort to stay away from the “I should” mental trap.

Yes, there are websites and calculators that allow us to plug in our strength numbers …

deadlifts, squats, strict press, etc, etc

… and using some formula or equation can calculate (roughly) how much weight our bodies can physically handle for the more ‘technical lifts’. There are also those general ‘rules of thumb’ or the ”common knowledge” that we often default to using when we assess our physical abilities:

  • “I should be able to clean more than I jerk”
  • “My power snatch should be less than my squat snatch”
  • “I should be able to do ‘x”…”
align=”right”][There are] ‘general rules of thumb’ and we need to remember that they don’t and can’t take into account the physical and psychological differences that make up who we are
But that’s all they are – equations, guidelines or ‘general rules of thumb’ and we need to remember that they don’t and can’t take into account the physical and psychological differences that make up who we are and contribute to how well we handle (or don’t handle) different movements.

For Example

The first time I ever picked up a barbell to attempt a clean I was told to ‘pull the bar high and drop under it’ (which I think is a really idiotic way to phrase it) because it encourages lifters to drop quicker than the barbell, create a gap and cause the weight to come crashing down.

Doing some ugly 135lb cleans at the 2013 Canada West Regionals (note the slow elbows and gap between me and the bar)

Doing some ugly 135lb cleans at the 2013 Canada West Regionals (note the slow elbows and gap between me and the bar)

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