Maxing Out
As I go through my day, I notice this lingering feeling that won’t leave. A subtle anxiety. Am I going to beat my personal record today? Am I going to lift more than I ever have?

As the day goes on this subtle anxiety/excitement grows. I keep fading into this daydream picturing myself under the barbell as its pressing down on my shoulders. I envision my adrenal glands opening, giving the needed burst of strength to push the weight up. “It’s going up,” I keep saying in an attempt to psych myself into believing it.

As the day goes on, my excitement builds, but so does the anxiety that comes with the uncertainty of whether or not I’ll fail. I want progress, I NEED to see progress. I want to be stronger. This is a form of progress that depends entirely on how much I am willing to commit. It is controlled by me alone. I want to feel the satisfaction that comes with this progress.

About thirty minutes before walking into the gym, I grab my Helimix and whip up a pre-workout shake. The effects hit me hard on an empty stomach. “This is lining up well,” I think to myself. The Beta-Alanine tingle makes its way from my face down into my shoulders. Now that I’m amping, warm up feels like a chore. My drive wants to go straight for max weight, but that’s obviously not realistic. I do a quick set and add weight, again, and again, comparing the feel of the weight to how it felt last week. "This week it feels a little bit easier," I think. Or is it my imagination?

Now it’s time to test my max. The plates are loaded up and there’s a nice bend in the barbell as it sits across the squat rack. I pace back and forth for a few moments wondering if I’m ready to lift it. "Let’s do this!" The weight sits on my shoulders heavier than anything I’ve held before. As I step back into position I try to tell myself I’ve got this, but I can’t seem to completely expel the lingering doubt, “what if I don’t?” I look in the mirror as my head twitches for a split second, "this IS going up" playing on an endless loop in my mind. 

The mental battle of whether or not I can do it still rages but at this point I’m committed. I drop into a squat, a little deeper then I had anticipated but my form is maintaining. As I begin to rise out of my rep, the rise slows almost to a stop. It becomes clear that I need to muster more strength. How bad do I want this progress? Am I going to accept failure? I envision the muscle fibers in my legs unable to further contract under the weight. But it’s my brain that controls the contraction of my muscles. Am I going to let dead weight defeat my brain?

"Not acceptable! These legs WILL stand under the weight ,and it IS going up,” I tell myself again as I try my best to voluntarily open my adrenal glands. I let out a massive exhale as the weight slowly keeps rising. I reach the top of my rep and barely manage to re-rack the bar. The weights rattle a bit as the bend in the bar flexes up and down. I step out from the rack and bask in the satisfaction of progress. I’m filled with a sense of accomplishment as my endorphins rush in.
That subtle anxiety which has been trailing me all day retreats for the time being. I grab my Helimix and sip some intra. Serenity at last.

A twinge of doubt sparks in my mind again. Will I be able to get two reps next week? Another sip, and confidence comes flooding back in a clear, looping thought...it's going up.