Learn From Your Mistakes

AC closes his eyes and misses a third attempt squat forward.

Something is bound to go wrong. You’re going to miss a rep because you let the bar drift forward as you pulled it off the floor. You might (for whatever reason) close your eyes (followed by a forward somersault) and miss a heavy squat. At some point you won’t finish your pull and miss a clean or snatch. And you will sure as hell miss a heavy press forward. Whatever it might be, something is going to go wrong; you aren’t perfect all the time.

Some people can’t come to terms with this reality. They’ll get frustrated when learning a new movement and try to quit. Some pout and moan when they miss a lift and others don’t understand why they sucked on a given day. Others will look in the mirror and say, “My traps aren’t big enough.”

Irregardlessly, you’ll face these events and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re going to act like a sally when they do. When things go wrong, you (and your coach, if applicable) need to figure out what went wrong so that it doesn’t happen again. If you can manage to learn from your mistakes, then you’ll inevitably improve.

The bar isn't supposed to hit your chin

Mistakes can be mechanical in nature. Letting your knees drift in as you hit the bottom of your squat will cause them to also shift forward at the bottom which also brings your pelvis forward. Heavy deadlifts have a tendency to drift forward if you don’t pull it back, and this makes them exponentially harder. Hitting low on a snatch will help you miss it forward. Catching a clean in the same way will make the front squat much harder. Basically if you do something that moves the bar forward or backward of the middle of your foot, the lift is going to be extremely difficult, and there are lots of reasons that can make this happen on every barbell lift.

Problems can also occur from a macro standpoint: programming and recovery. Recovery limitations are either your fault or out of your control. It’s your fault if you didn’t eat enough protein and calories, but having a three day shoot out as a SWAT team member with little sleep is a function of your job. In either case, care must be taken when training to account for these things.

Brent percieves his lack of trap development as failure

Programming problems can arise when someone is not ready for their program, advancing beyond their program, has long-term recovery issues, experiences nagging or acute injuries, or has too much volume/intensity causing too much stress in the current program. This is where you have to be particularly observant to look for patterns in your training and this is the chief reason why keeping a training log is important and necessary. As you advance and get stronger the closer you will have to pay attention to this. If you’re deadlifting too frequently, you’ll get run down and it will affect your squats and pulls. If you’re doing too much volume early in the week, then your intensity day will not thrive because you won’t fully recover. If you’re hamstrings aren’t used to handling heavy loads when they are tired, then deadlifting in a long meet is going to be arduous. When you cause local stress on structures (particularly muscles, tendons, and ligaments) and you have chronically high systemic stress, the structures won’t heal efficiently and are more prone to injury (which is why people get hurt from frequent CrossFit training). It’s all cumulative.

Younger lifters will some times feel helpless because of failure. Older lifters understand failure and most will learn from it. I know some people that have gotten strong because of their persistence over years and years of training, and it wouldn’t be possible without learning from their failure.

Looking for patterns is a concept that Pete Blaber repeats in his interesting book, The Mission, The Men, and Me. If you’re observant over time you’ll be able to absorb enough data to recognize patterns that can help you figure out what went wrong. When you figure out what went wrong, you’ll be able to fix it and improve. It’s okay to fuck up. Just don’t keep doing it.

35 thoughts on “Learn From Your Mistakes

  1. what else isn’t a word gurner? gurner, what else isn’t a word? if irregardlessly isn’t a word, what else isn’t a word gurner??? WHAT ELSE ISN’T A WORD?????????? YOU SAY THAT IRREGARDLESSLY ISN’T A WORD SO WHAT ELSE ISN’T A WORD GURNER?????????????????

    GURNER. WHAT ELSE ISN’T A WORD ???????????????????

    I just saw this, haha.


    Brent rattles the cages


  2. and justin, it’s an undeniable fact that my traps COULD be bigger

    quite simply, that’s unfulfilled potential

    i don’t see why i wouldn’t want to be the best i can possibly be, and having bigger traps is irrefutably a step in that process

  3. No, really, irregardlessly isn’t a word. I think those traps must be cutting off your blood supply a bit brent

    It doesn’t look like AC so much closed his eyes, rather it seems he opened his mouth so far there wasn’t the room left on his face for the eyes to be open.

    I wonder if the use of the word ‘sally’ is at all connected to a thread in the SS Ends and Pieces forums, if not it’s a very funny coincidence

    Not connected. Be prepared for Brent’s wrath.


  4. Nice American Dad reference. That clearly went over the head of a couple of people.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t watch tv because none of it is worth watching.


    He is an elitist.


  5. Gunner & Dragar

    Get an encyclopedia fools and look up GOON. There you will find the answer to the universe, life and everything… with that knowledge you will know where the WORD irregardlessly comes from. Also, you can stop chastising Brent for his MAMMOTH TRAPS because you know you wish you had them. Awesome.

  6. I also aspire to have large traps like Brent, I think the olympic lifts work them much more than barbell shrugs though, perhaps I’m not doing shrugs correctly…

    Barbell shrugs around here means Bill Starr style shrugs where the bar starts around mid-thigh and the hips are extended with a violent shrug to finish.


  7. also dragar i know what thread you’re talking about and i hope this post gets trolled by militant feminists like the thread was.
    as for barbell shrugs i didn’t really get much out of the bb.com style isolation movement either. justin said i was dumb for doing them and when i said well what about my fucking yoke he suggested clean shrugs out of the rack. these are pretty fucking sweet. give them a try instead. call me we’ll talk about it

  8. That’s because knowing that “irregardless” is a word puts you one step above dumbass. Being one step above dumbass breeds confidence. That’s why these people also use the word “facetious” at least once a day.

    But a word like “swollertrophy” takes a bigger set of stones. Is it genius or nonsensical? Can it be used by the general population? Or is it like wearing red corduroy pants–technically correct but usable only by a select few?

  9. The Merriam-Webster link says “Nonstandard” and “Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.”

    I’m all for going against the grain, but not when it comes to irregardless. That word makes me cringe.

  10. The new shirt idea needs some verbage on the back –

    front: Adult Male > 200lbs
    back: “Give the women something to hold to”
    Or something of this order.

  11. @brent

    I agree about the bb.com iso shrugs, I’ve been toying around with the “bill starr style shrugs” a bit, but I think that something like a hang clean pull would work best (probably what you’re referring to?), and also has the benefit of helping me to finish the damn pull, which I slack off on sometimes.

  12. Irregardless, I’m going to go out and get some red corduroy pants that one day I might be able to wear them with confidence. Until that day gentlemen.

  13. zero is not a number either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Technically white is all colors combined, no part of the color spectrum being reflected more than the rest, while black is the absence of color, no part of the color spectrum is reflected, but I understand your point.

  15. In case anyone was wondering… there was an American Dad episode based on the non-word “irregardlessly.”

    I thought given the usual pop culture references that was the source of that one.

  16. this site has to pay me every time they use that brent kim photo i editted.

    although, being a full of suck student at art class makes me proud that you think my work is ok enough to be posted.

    i would like to call my masterpiece Yoka Lisa. just like mona lisa has no eyebrows which is a mark of a true woman, Yoka Lisa has no facial hair which is a mark of a true man.

    Call me Da Vinci.

    Can I still be Garth?


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