Although this year I qualified for the World Bench Press Team, I decided to decline my invitation. One of the unfortunate realities of sport is that the majority of athletes pay for their own way to compete. Since this year I decided to continue my forays back to school to complete a Master's degree, I simply didn't have enough funds to finance the trip. So, I thought I would provide a quick reflection on the year's past when I've been privileged to attend three World Championships, and also detail my summer competition schedule.
The pinnacle of my success was realized when I achieved a bronze medal in 2010 and breaking, at the time, a Canadian National record. The sport of bench press is constantly changing, and with so many new lifters attending international events each year, the totals keep rising, providing steeper competition. So while I've achieved many successes in bench press, I realize that there is still more work to be done in order to continue to improve and be successful at the World stage. I think any athlete can testify that once you've achieved a personal goal, you're already setting new goals to strive towards.
For me, once I've reached the point where a goal is met, I have already shifted my expectations to the next level of performance. What this creates is a feeling of never being satisfied. Most of the time I think this feeling is what motivates athletes to continue to strive to new heights in their sport. If you're satisfied with your performance, you might not be willing to take risks, make sacrifices, step outside your comfort zone, or put in the work necessary to make progress. After all, the progress one makes in the pursuit of performing at higher levels is never an endpoint but rather a constant journey.
Goals start out as dreams; what you hope to do in the future if all the stars align. As an athlete, this means that the targets you want to achieve ought only be possible if you take all the necessary steps and sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. I like to call this goal setting the "best case scenario". Goals should be set with the best case scenario in mind; best case in terms of training, nutrition, rest, recovery, and so on. Since life never happens in best case scenarios, goals, at first, might seem out of reach. However, at some point in the pursuit of a goal, through hard work, passion, and sometimes stubborn commitment, the line between impossible and possible start to blend. This coalescing point is not a conscious awareness, nor does it happen suddenly. Rather, during the steps toward achieving the goal, foundations are being laid for new goals, which pushes the target further away from the original starting point. As the English poet Robert Browning said: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?". So it's not that you achieve a goal, and then set a new goal; it's that while you're pursuing a goal, you're engaged in a continual process of goal adaptation. To the spectator, feats of athleticism seem spectacular, but for the person living and pursuing that goal, it's merely ordinary. From the athlete's perspective, they are always looking toward the next step in the chain of progress, looking beyond the target as they move closer. Importantly, never being satisfied, and reaching beyond what seems possible, are the qualities that build champions; this is true in sport, but also in life more generally.
So although I'm sitting on the sidelines this year, I've decided to budget a more affordable trip and compete this August at the US Bench Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. This competition is an elite bench press contests, with a majority of the competitors being top ten in the World. I will be traveling with Pursuit of Strength Team Member, my best friend and training partner, James Bartlett. Part of traveling to compete is not only the sporting experience but also having an excuse to vacation. This competition will be the highlight of my summer training program, which I will be detailing over the coming weeks in future video blogs.
In the meantime, the following video is a look at my 10th place performance at last year's World Bench Press Championships, lifting 255k @ 112k bodyweight: