The Letter of Intent – Part Deux

I was completely annoyed on the Letter of Intent Day comments how a lot of you posted numbers that you wanted to hit in training as opposed to posting competition goals. The whole point of Gant’s post was to commit to competing — and barely any of you did that! Well, now I’m going to piss a lot of you off, because I have to inform you that You Are A Coward. Some times the truth hurts. Coward.

AC squatting in competition last November

AC squatting in competition last November

The other day I was talking to a cute gal, and she said that she was skeptical of competing because she was afraid of losing. She was just being honest in our conversation (perhaps she was opening up to me like a flower?). In any case, I set her straight by informing her that competing isn’t only about winning, especially in your first try. She agreed, but it may have just been my charm.

In any case, avoiding competition makes you a yella-belly-coward. Gant, who has been in more competitions than Michael Jordan, gives great insight when he says that competing will help you learn about yourself. There is a reason that sport builds character, and this is probably the most enduring quality about competing.

A lack of competition is never a good thing. Our society likes to coddle people, and those people make it a habit to do very little for themselves. This concept becomes embedded deep in their primitive brain, and there is the expectancy of someone else to provide goods, services, and even money. This type of person becomes frightened into doing anything out of the ordinary and accomplishing things on their own. They get scared of taking risks.

Sport is an obnoxiously appropriate way to safely exercise your ability to put yourself out on the line and to risk something. Fearing failure is identical to being a failure.

Competing in sport forces you to experience things that you otherwise may not. In life, you may purposely place yourself in safe situations in which you can’t fail. People do this all of the time, but the most successful people in history didn’t become successful by being safe and conservative.

Sport and competition are not always rosy endeavors. I’ll remind you that I just bombed the piss out of my weightlifting meet on Saturday. I spent three months of hard training in preparation for that meet, and I failed in all of my goals. What, you think I’ll just give up because I don’t want to be embarrassed in front of a bunch of people at a meet again (and technically lots of people on the internet, since my life is sort of on display on this website)? I tell my trainees this all of the time: when shit goes wrong you figure out what variable is to blame, and fix it the next time it comes up.

A hard day of training in November. Training does not equal competition.

A hard day of training in November. Training does not equal competition.

And by the way, had I actually totaled at that meet, I would have been the 105 kg Texas State Champ…by default. I was the only open competitor. Stef held the distinction of being in first and last place in the women’s 53 kg class. Are you trying to tell me that there weren’t any 53 kg CrossFit girls living in Austin, TX that could have lifted in the meet?

People who like to call themselves CrossFitters are notoriously annoying for not competing in anything at all. They claim that they are competing while training, which is comical. Sure, there are some who actually compete — I mentioned yesterday that Dutch had brought some people to the meet, and this is good. However, plenty of “CrossFitters” love to claim the status of being an “elite athlete” while not even participating in any kind of sanctioned competition (even though the CF creed states something like “regularly learn and play new sports”). It just doesn’t sound intelligent to claim that you will beat everyone at their own sport when you don’t even partake, that’s all. It seems that the fear of risk and failure permeates us all.

And that is the point. Look, if you aren’t a collegiate or pro athlete, you already know you aren’t the best in the world. Especially if you are older than 30 years old — you aren’t suddenly gonna become awesome in something. Intuitively you know that you are, at best, mediocre in the grand scheme of things (unless you try and invent your own sport, which is silly). Suddenly you realize that the thing that you fear the most is taking a risk into the unknown.

I want you to compete, because you will be better off after doing it. Most of you will not do exceptionally well in your first time, and this is supposed to happen. A virgin ain’t no Casanova, okay? Think very carefully in what you want to compete in this year. If you are on 70’s Big, then you are strength training. This not only prepares you, but gives you direction in what you could try competing in first. Go ahead, click on the comments, and make yourself accountable to taking a risk. Or you could just be a coward.

You’ll thank me later.

78 thoughts on “The Letter of Intent – Part Deux

  1. I don””t see the big deal for these people who won””t/aren””t competing. Competing in that meet was the most fun I have had with a Barbell on my back. I had no clue if I was going to compete against 30 people or 3. Nor did I care. Thank god Justin told me about that meet because the entire time I was training I was itching to go to a meet.

    I am going to attempt to be in at least 3 more meets this year before the summer. 2 of them I already know the dates for.

    Wearing a bitchin singlet is always cool too.

  2. I”ve only been to one Oly comp in the past year, there are just too few competitions powerlifting wise and Oly comps are virtually non-existant here. A lot of power lifting comps out here are only geared towards high school students too which blows. There will probably only be one nearby local competition this year again, just not enough interest in either sport which pisses me off.

    I”m hoping some local powerlifting comp opens up in the next few months that I can actually lift in as I”ve never done a PL comp before.

    But yea, competing gives confidence even if you suck at the lifts and you will meet good people at the events.

  3. Just filled out the form for the WA State PL championships on Feb 28. Hoping to come in 2nd in the 242# category to Jacob, who made the chili video.

  4. My goals are still vague but I am being proactive in finding something to compete in outside of billiards and other bar shit.

    I”m going to learn the olympic lifts this year. I can do what resembles a snatch but have”nt clean and jerk”d.

    I am taking a golf class for spring semester since I can”t take any major related classes til the fall because my state is stupid. Maybe I can be the next Happy Gilmore.

    So either golf or weightlifting, either way I will keep training. I”m waiting to exhaust my novice progression before I commit to any true competition goals or focus on the Oly lifts.
    Is that a copout?

  5. “Fearing failure is identical to being a failure.” I don””t agree with this statement in the least, everyone is afraid of failure to some extent, and it doesn””t make them failures.

    What makes people failures is when they let that fear control them, when they act on that fear (in a fight or flight sense) and flee.

    Courage isn””t the lack of fear, it””s ignoring your fear and doing it anyway. Justin, didn””t you think I was scared to come into the gym today? Fuck yes I was…a barbell on my back for the first time after my ankle shattered…daunting to say the least. But I came and trained anyway, and it was because I WANT to compete, I WANT to be held accountable for what I do.

    Fear of failure is one of the things that drives people to excellence, but only when and if that fear strengthens your resolve to not submit to mediocrity. Being so terrified of failing that you duck out of a competition makes you a coward and a failure. Embracing the fear and using it as fuel for your fire makes you 70””s Big.

    Just wanted to make that point.

    You have a point. People are still afraid of taking risks. Overcoming fear is part of this whole deal.


  6. i will compete in a raw PL meet this year. I will be in san angelo TX from march to july. does anybody know of any meets in the area? never competed want to get some competition #s.

  7. I”m doing a sprint tri again in July and a powerlifting comp in October.

    2010 IPA Lexen Xtreme Fall Classic
    Full Power & Bench
    IPA QUALIFIER For 2010 Season
    October 24, 2010
    Meet Director: Dan Dague (614) 554-8824,
    Courtyard Marriott in Hilliard, Ohio

  8. That was a great post. Damn you Justin and your motivation/calling us out.
    Alright I”m going to do a tactical strength challenge on April 10, which will be interesting b/c pullups are by far my weakest area and I”m not even close to proficient in kettlebell snatches. Any tips for either of those from anyone would be appreciated, especially pullups.

  9. Very good post. I”ve decided to compete in the USAPL Battle on the Border in Charlotte, NC on March 20. Preparatory goals are to squat >300, bench 250 and deadlift 400. Oh and also get a bitchin singlet.

  10. I”m already 60% into my Rookie year of American Football. I”m 21, and never played football before the season started.

    does that mean I”m trying to go pro? hell no, but I love the game and competition.

    great post Justin.

  11. A friendly piece of advice for all those planning on competing in either Olympic lifting or powerlifting.

    In powerlifting, use the adrenalin, get amped, go nuts, watch AC””s meet video and try and be more intense than him.

    In olympic lifting, don””t get too crazy, its a lot more technical.

    A friendly piece of advice — learn what you need to do on your own. This is individualized.


  12. Great post Justin.

    Im going into my fifth season of football. That is the primary reason for my strength training. This year should be fun. Starting as middle linebacker and calling the shots on defense!

    Plus I just registered for a non-sanctioned weigtlifting meet at my gym this coming weekend. Aiming for a 80 kg snatch and a 100 kg CJ.

    I love competing!

  13. well i found a USAPL meet where I live in July… guess that””s when I””ll have to put up or shut up. any input on where my numbers should be by then? around 240 (spare tire) now, not sure if i want to lift in 242 or try to get to 220…

    Do not cut for your first meet. Just go as is.


  14. I forget if I posted in the last post about competing, but I really want to try either a strongman comp, or a highland games comp. I am struggling to find out how to get into either though. If there is anyone from MA (or southern NH/ME, northern RI) that has any info it would be awesome. Otherwise I am playing in a basketball league, but that isn”t really a competition that directly related to my training.

  15. Challenge accepted good sir…

    I””m competing in my first ever PL meet June 26th

    Been doing SS for a couple months, but took the xmas break off to relax. Not its back to work. Anyone who lifts in Cincinnati is welcome to lift with me at the UC rec ceter. Here are my lifts now plus what I””d like to make come meet time.
    (all 1RM)
    SQ – 285 (400)
    DL – 395 (500)
    BP – 195 (300)
    Got some work to do (on BP specifically) but I””m feeling good about making it come late

    Biggest issue is going to be weight. I””m 6””1 and weigh 265, with significant chub. I””d like to compete in the 242 class, so that””s what I signed up for. Any ideas help helpful hints for fatty trying to get leaner while gaining in lifts are welcome. I””m eating Paleo + milk right now (with some cheating) but that””s gonna have to stop for me to make weight.

    Finally here is a little motivational poetry for all you

    Down the road, in a gym far away
    A young man was heard to say
    “No matter what I do, my legs won””t grow!”
    He tried leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses too
    Trying to cheat, these sissy workouts he””d do!
    From the corner of the gym where the big guys train
    Through a cloud of chalk and the midst of pain
    Where the big iron rides high, and threatens lives
    Where the noise is made with big forty-fives
    A deep voice bellowed as he wrapped his knees
    A very big man with legs like trees
    Laughing as he snatched another plate from the stack
    Chalked his hands and monstrous back
    Said, “Boy, stop lying and don””t say you””ve forgotten!
    Trouble with you is you ain””t been SQUATTIN””!”

    – Jeff “MADDOG” Madden

    That poem is old, and it has been up in our gym for a long time.

    I don’t know if you necessarily should have put a bunch of pressure on yourself to cut weight for your first meet…


  16. I”d like to restate my original post:

    I am going to compete in a sprint triathlon in June in Dunedin, Fl. I am also planning on doing a powerlifting meet mid year and a oly lifting meet in the fall.

    I have never competed in any lifting meets or triathlons, so these will all be new experiencees.
    I would like to do a Crossfit Total meet first to get used to the meet setting in a little less formal environment. If anyone knows of any that may be planned for the Tampa area please post some info.

    Best of luck to all who have already made there commitments.

  17. bed564

    If you want to get a taste of powerlifting at its best, at the Jackson Springs Rec Center Jan 30 and 31st the Raw Unity Meet is happening where you”ll see some of the best lifters in the US competing.

  18. I think a Highland Games or an amatuer strongman competition would be bad ass. But havent seen much of those around. Have been wanting to sign up for a PL meet and a WL meet sometime this year. Justin, Do you have any ideas of dates for the WL meets that will be held at WFAC this year that you mentioned yesterday? Im only a few hours away (Amarillo) so distance would not be an acceptable excuse for chickening out…

  19. Anyone interetsed in Highland Games – check out NASGA”s site: I think. There is a list of all contest and whether they are invite or open and what categories are contested (assuming you”re in North America).
    For strongman – check out the NAS site though there are other shows that are unsanctioned.
    My take on this – you must compete. If you train and want to train as hard as possible – then knowing you have to put up or shut up – is the best motivation ever.
    I maybe don”t qualify for this site given many would say I”m already 70”s Big (300lb) and shift some decent weights – but I only started competing in 2008 at the age of 33 and it”s the best thing I did: my PR”s keep going up – because they have to !!!

  20. Hey guys I””m looking for some incite.
    I play club rugby at my university, and I””m looking to get bigger. Practices are tuesday and thursdays, and during the spring we play in tourneys on weekends. I have been doing CF stuff while working in “strength” bias style workouts. What type of program should i be doing now, until summer when I can start a Novice Linear progression. Any incite is appreciated.

    You can still strength train in-season. Go look at posts around Christmas time for more.


  21. Thanks nolanpower. Thats not very far from me. I”m definately going to check it out. I plan on competing raw when i do compete. Is Raw United a good federation to look at competing in?

  22. Raw United is a good one, USAPL another obvious choice, but I know that Raw United has a good following around Tampa and you”ll get to lift with Eric Talmant (director of the Raw Unity meet) in that federation as I”m pretty sure he regularly competes there. I haven”t lifted with Raw United ever, but just being on the platform regardless of what name it has is a great step forward.

  23. bed564

    at bayside crossfit, this saturday is our crossfit total.

    short term goal is 1000 for my total

    If they run the meet right (notice that it is a meet), then there will be weigh-ins and the bar will be loaded like an Olympic lifting meet. If this isn’t happening and instead it is just a workout where you max out on your lifts, it doesn’t count. There are a very specific set of rules for how the meet should be run.


  24. ”KMoody Says:
    “Fearing failure is identical to being a failure.” I don”t agree with this statement in the least, everyone is afraid of failure to some extent, and it doesn”t make them failures.”

    That…and this…

    ”But I came and trained anyway, and it was because I WANT to compete, I WANT to be held accountable for what I do.”

    Well said. At times there are reasons for training as a competitor, but not being able to compete…yet.

  25. dhagerty:

    I play rugby at my university, and i””ve found success with just lifting hard in a linear progression style, and leaving the conditioning workouts for practices. Now that we have the Prowler sled I plan on incorporating that as a mixture between strength/explosiveness and pure conditioning.

    If you prefer the CF style workouts with some strength bias, stick with it, but because I noticed I recover much faster from conditioning than I do from strength training, I put my focus into strength.

    Kyle likes to prowl.


  26. I just filled out the form for the Northern Illinois Open (ADFPF) on April 10th at B&W Gym in Chicago. I”ll be lifting in the unequipped 110kg class. I have no illusions of winning, but am excited to see how I do. Hell, at least I”ll place better than I did in my last marathon (4,115/31,344).

    Thanks for the kick in the ass, Justin.

  27. I signed up for 3 contests yesterday with a new federation that the old one I competed in.

    This one is the official IPF Federation of my country(Belgium), but unfortunately it”s also Walloon(Belgian French). That shouldn”t hold me back though.

    I got my eye on a 180kg squat, a 120kg bench and a 235kg deadlift, all by IPF standards. None of these are PRs but I try to keep my goals realistic since I am still returning from injury and due to the tough judging.

  28. I committed to this on the letter of intent day post, but re-committing here: I”ll be doing my first heavy athletics competition in May at the Houston Highland Games. For those of you in the area, they won”t even be opening registration until April, so it shouldn”t be too crowded. Also, I emailed the guy who runs the competition and for novices they have a mandatory class taught by a pro before the day of the competition. So if you are in the near area and want to come throw stuff, drink beer, and eat scotch eggs, come the heck on out and join me in making an ass of myself with the caber!

    The games page still points to 2009, but the page I listed is for 2010.

  29. Started playing soccer 3 years ago and finally made my University”s (UIC) D1 soccer team this past spring. All my training and focus will be going towards my summer and fall season. I am on my second week of SS and have 8 more to go, can”t wait to see the results. Love the site!

  30. OK, point taken. I am going to compete in the Sacramento Open power-lifting meet on April 24. I believe several others from San Francisco CrossFit will be joining. There is also talk of another ultra-marathon (I ran my first with a team from SFCF in November), although I don”t want to do that until after the meet (I don”t want the run to interfere with my strength training).

    Finally, I would note that my girlfriend Corrine competed in her first Olympic lifting meet late last year, and ended up taking 3rd. She rocks. We also sent two lifters to the 2009 Don Wilson/Golden West Open, which I watched and loved.

  31. @Wood: I didn”t see that meet. I lift there, so I”m definitely interested. No excuses, but that”s the week after Easter, so that means it”s the week after Lent ends, so I may be pretty weak. Okay. I”m doing it. This just means it”ll be easier to make weight.

  32. Do you guys know of any meets in the middle of Illinois? I”ve been looking and I can”t seem to find any. I don”t think my parents are going to let me drive to Chicago or St. Louis, but even if you guys know of any meets there please let me know. Also they must be before mid-may this year. Thanks and props to you Nate, thank you for serving our country.

  33. I just decided I am going to enter the 2010 USAPL New England Championship. If I can make the 220 raw division I think I could do pretty well. The winner last year totaled 1234.6. I will shoot for an 1100 total (350/335/415).

  34. Im don the georgiasouthern strongman competition where i WILL totall 1200 and 190lbs and then on june 21st i will be lifting through the APC in athens georgia where I will beat whatever I do at southern bu hopefully 100lbs……dream big.

  35. @crouton, I live in the Spring/Houston area, I used to live in Tyler and one of the guys I worked out with up there was a NASA competitor. There is a USAPL meet down here about a month after the NASA one, figured it might be better to see how I fare at a smaller comp, plus there will probably be some serious monsters coming out of the woodwork here in H-town.

  36. 10/10, would read again. Thanks for the great post.

    I don”t know where to set my goals for this PL meet in the spring, since I”ve never competed before, nor have I ever done a pure strength program for an extended period, so I”m not sure what to expect. I guess for starters I”ll say 385/275/485 at 181.

  37. @Wood. It will be my first competition, too. I would probably be happy to total 450kg, so it is nothing to write home about, but it is COMPETITION. AMERICA!

  38. Aside from the year round Ultimate leagues I play in, I will be doing the following:

    Texas State Sprint Triathlon 4/26/10
    Warrior Dash 5/1/10
    WABDL Southern Regional 7/31/10
    White Rock Half Marathon (Barefoot)12/12/10

    One a side note, I was completely defeated today. I got back to my office to find a box from rogue fitness waiting for me. My new Rip”s! I get them out and realized they sent me two right shoes. Sigh, another week or so in the chucks.

  39. i completely agree. what”s the point of training if you can”t put that on the line and compete against others?

    Although i”m a football player, i”m thinking about competing in a powerlifting meet when there will be one in my area.

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