Leveling Up

by Coach Andrew Seely

If you’ve ever played a tabletop RPG or a video game, you know the pain of upgrading your weapon or abilities. What was once easy and effortless suddenly becomes new, difficult and awkward.

It’s easy to feel comfortable. You had grown to trust your familiar old weapon, and know its strengths and weakness. You may have even named it. You can hack and slash your way through level 2 enemies with ease, never afraid of a battle or being caught off guard.

Then all of a sudden you find some loot and get something shiny and new. It isn't what you are used to using, it has better stats and better DPS (damage per second). You get excited, but you are also nervous. You take the new weapon in your hands, it feels awkward and heavy to wield.  IT SUCKS. You miss when you didn’t miss before. You need the new gear to fight the harder enemies ahead on the campaign, but your confidence is shaken.  HOW CAN THIS BE?!?!?

The same principles apply to our training at the gym.

We get set on our familiar kettlebell weight. Our dumbbell. Our barbell. We know how many reps we can do in 2 minutes. We get complacent.

We’ve all been there. Why push ourselves when we are comfortable and can succeed where we are? Why pick new weights when they feel heavy and we might struggle? Why push ourselves to do more squats when nobody else is counting? Often times, we don’t want to take the risk necessary to level up. We see ourselves as what we once were and don't realize how much with have improved with all the time and training that we’ve been putting in. We don’t notice that things have gotten too easy.

Growth is triggered by overcoming obstacles.

As a famous butler once said, “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up." There will be a time, maybe it’s now, maybe it’s months from now, when you will have to risk failure to continue improving.

Take the risk and push yourself! It takes time and practice. Just like with a new in-game weapon, after many hours of frustration and feeling vulnerable we get comfortable with wielding it. Little by little it starts to become worn in. Our shots become more true. The damage grows. The enemies start to fall more and more easily.  What used to be a challenge becomes second nature and we wouldn’t ever think about going back to the old days.

Next time a coach says you can handle more, it’s not because they are being mean, it’s because they believe you are ready. They have seen the work you are doing and how much you have improved, even if you don’t see it yourself. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, you may fail for a while, but in the long run you will only continue to make gains by increasing the rigor of your workout.

You are ready for what lies ahead. You have gained enough XP. You are stronger than when you started. So the question is:

Are you ready to level up?


Next time: “I’ve played this level for the thousandth time and I still can’t beat it.”