Slowing Down Is Not Stopping

I’m grateful to have matured from my early training days. In a past life, I would have pushed and pushed and never taken some time to slow down, deload, and let my body and mind catch up to the work I was doing. I’m glad to have learned my lesson before it was too late – slowing down is not stopping.

I hoped to hit a training block PR double last week in preparation for attempting a 315-pound bench before our baby gets here. As I worked my way towards that heavy double, I felt flat. The weight moved but not with the “pop” that I expected. I sat briefly and thought about my options for proceeding that day and moving through the rest of this training cycle. At that moment, I realized I hadn’t taken a training break since I started this program in January. I caught the burnout early and decided this week would be a deload week.


I took 87% of my projected max for two doubles, which I doubled in week three. It was still moderately heavy but allowed me to do some work while my body recovered from the previous three months of work. On Wednesday, I took 60% for eight sets of three. On Friday, I gave pressing movements a break and trained my back. I kept telling myself, “slowing down is not stopping.”

My elbows have ached a bit here and there, but I’ve been able to mitigate elbow pain for the most part. After missing my first rep of the program two weeks ago, then having to slow down and plan a deload, the warning signs of overuse started accumulating. I was nervous about whether or not I’d be able to hit my goal before the wheels began to fall off.

Slowing Down is Not Stopping...Keep Pressing!
The author with a 429-pound geared bench at the 2015 USAPL Collegiate Nationals.

Paint or Get Off the Ladder

My family has a different saying for this, but I gave up swearing for lent and have to get creative at times. Today was the start of a new training block, calling for a max effort bench for a heavy single. Three hundred-five pounds was the last heavy single I took four weeks ago. Coming off a deload and thinking about the accumulated wear and tear, I decided today I would hit my goal of a 315-pound bench press–26 days before the deadline I set for myself.

The gym was quiet, with few folks around. Scanning the gym, I saw a familiar face as we met by the drinking fountain. Jon, my chiropractor, was wrapping up his workout. When I told him today was the day I’d hit my goal, he stuck around to help me out. After a deload, a weekend of eating and resting, and a trustworthy spotter locked down, there was no turning back. 

Shock and Awe

People often shortcut their warm-ups, but with my goal on the horizon and my chiropractor helping me, there was no shortcut. 

Set by set, I felt faster. Fifty percent. Sixty-five percent. Seventy-five percent. Eighty-seven percent. Ninety-four percent. Finally, I took 315.

“One. Two. Three. I got it.”

The handout was perfect. Big breath. Stomach up. Touch. Pause. Press. Rack.

I was shocked. Not that I got it; I had to get it. I was amazed at the speed at which I locked it out. After missing my first rep of the program two weeks ago, needing to take a deload last week, and hitting my goal with gas still in the tank, I’m proud of this milestone. 

Goals change, and your training should mimic those changes. Sometimes, to keep the train rolling, we must slow down and take inventory of where we’re at. Many people fear slowing down, thinking they’ll lose momentum in their progress. When you’re training hard and pushing your limits, it’s important to remember that slowing down is not stopping, and slow progress is still progress. 

I’ve enjoyed this training cycle and am excited to tackle my next goal.

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