The Question That Helps You Lift More Weight

CanIDoThat TopHeader

“I just made the most major tweet of my life,” said my husband, David, to me earlier this week. (Why he rails against using “tweet” as a verb I do not know, but it always cracks me up.)

“But,” he continued, “I don’t know if anyone is going get exactly how important this concept is for making training progress.”

“Lemme see,” I said, grabbing his phone. “Oh wow…this is major.”

“I know!”

It reads: “Can I do that? [is greater than] I can do that. [is greater than] I can’t do that.”

Is that blowing your mind?

If not (yet), you aren’t alone.

The tweet didn’t get a ton of traction online, but the next day, David did receive a response from someone saying, “Taking that ‘Can I do that?’ mentality at the gym today totally changed my workout. Pushed harder, better mood. Good stuff.”

That guy? He got it.

Think about it for a moment: How often do you slap some weight on the bar that you know you can lift, do a few sets and call it a day? How often do you stick to only the lifts you know how to do; the ones you’ve been performing year in and year out?

If the answer is “pretty often,” then chances are you are stuck in an “I can do that” training mentality, and chances are you’re probably maintaining your strength, at best. Hey, it’s better than “I can’t do that,” which leads to avoidance of certain types of lifts and any semblance of challenge, but I believe you can do better.

The next time you train, make the mental shift from “I can do that” to asking yourself, “Can I do that?” with regard to the weight on the bar and brand-new exercises entirely. Constant learning, growing and developing is, I believe, a major component of happiness.

Treat your training like an experiment and you will be richly rewarded in terms of strength gains and confidence building.

Even if the answer is “not yet,” continue asking the question every time you train and the answer will be “soon enough.”


Author:Jen Sinkler

Fitness writer and editor, workout connoisseur, meditator, proponent of spandex, former rugby player; never, ever without lip gloss.
Comments: 8

8 Responses to “The Question That Helps You Lift More Weight”

  1. shane
    January 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Short, simple and straight to the point. You and David are a heck of a team.

    • February 7, 2014 at 1:07 am #

      Thank you, Shane! Appreciate the compliment.:)

  2. Chris
    March 19, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Hey Jen,

    I was listening to the Fitcast yesterday and you mentioned this; tried it at the gym today and hit 300lbs for 5 reps(I am used to staying near 225lbs). Last year I was able to barely do that for 2 reps. Your interview on the Fitcast really struck me, because as a strength and conditioning coach myself, I never knew others were going through the same thing as I was (i.e. I find it very difficult to say no to clients because I want to help everyone).

    • March 19, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Chris! And I’m SUPER excited about your five-rep PR!

  3. July 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Jen, this is right on! I have always tried to approach my training this way. If you know you can do it, you’re not challenging yourself. I always tell me clients that it should feel like just maybe they’re not going to be able to lift 5 more lbs. or get the last couple of reps. It’s finding that fine edge of your ability that produces the most results.

  4. Farmer Drew
    August 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Kristi, it’s common knowledge that if you want to grow, then you shouldn’t limit yourself. You should be telling your clients to lift till failure. That way their muscles will grow consistent with their diet.

    • August 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Failure is not necessary, Farmer Drew.

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