We get so fixated on people that ‘like’ our posts or think we are amazing for getting a gym rep PB. Those people are not going to be there when shit hits the fan. We are a generation of social media users, frantically seeking followers, ‘OH, if I use this hashtag I will get 20 more likes!’ I’ve been that person, you’ve been that person. We have all been that person. Being narrow minded is nearly natural to us now.
I had my first powerlifting competition last weekend in which I had been training for a year.
I had a shaky start on squats only taking my 1st squat of 110kg. Bench was going well, I got 2 of my attempts and went in for a conservative 50kg lift on my 3rd. I was well braced, strong set up. The best set-up I had achieved in months. Brought the bar down and pop, my shoulder popped out of its socket and I thought my entire world was over.
All the work, the 5am alarms to make it to the gym before I headed to work or university. The missing dinners, parties and holidays because I was training or dieting or just wanted to keep my focus. Gone in a flash.
I lost a lot of ‘friends’ this year and I gained many true friends. I had shit training days and I had amazing ones. I had never put so much effort into anything.
That initial crunch, reminded me of being 15 and tearing the ligaments in my ankle at a netball match and never playing at a national level again. I thought it was game over.
I came off that bench and instantly said fuck that, I’m popping it back in. I wasn’t going to get the total I’d worked for. I wasn’t going to qualify for teams or competitions. All of a sudden the numbers didn’t matter anymore.
Powerlifting is about numbers, but it’s also about self-improvement. Yes, physical improvements but it can mentally save you. I had nothing to gain from finishing the competition in terms of the competition and the sport. But I had to prove to myself that I could gain a total. No matter how small, I knew I could.
My coach and my team said I had no need to. I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone. They were right I didn’t and I wasn’t. I thought I had already known my own strength from my numbers. I was wrong. So very wrong. Anyone reading this, if you are powerlifting because you saw someone else hit 100kg more than you, good luck progressing.
I was gutted. I felt like the world didn’t take hard work and reward it. I felt sorry for myself and I mean really sorry.
Then I got chatting to the other lifters. One was a M2 (aged 50–60) in my weight class (-72kg) and she said, this sport is all about longevity. You’ll look back on this at 55 years old and laugh. That woman went on to win the weight class over all age groups. It’s a marathon not a sprint. So what if 300 people like your pb squat in the gym? Will they be there when you drop the weight and lose a competition? No. But you know who will be there? The real people who love you and are there no matter what happens.
I was over-whelmed by the amount of people that called me and messaged me to check I was okay. I spent a year thinking about numbers on a barbell and forgetting about the people who had always been there for me. Always free to talk to me or let me moan about how hard I found my last training session.
In the end, I went on to deadlift 85kg @ 69kg bw, in a sumo stance, with an awkward alternate grip. It was and will always be the proudest moment of my life. For 2 reasons.
Reason 1. I did it because I put in the work and I was the one making the most of a shit situation. Giving up is never an option.
Reason 2. I did it for me.
This injury, is a blessing in disguise. Because I could not give a flying fuck who likes my videos or thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread. I give a fuck about what I think of myself. And right now, I am damn proud of me. Numbers are important, they always will be. But they are not everything. Do not wait until you hurt yourself to realise that.
About the author -
Rebekah is a 21 year old, Northern Irish student studying for a Masters in Journalism, as well as a -72kg powerlifter.
You can find her on Instagram at -