I’m a little bit jealous because Gustavo recently got his hands on the KG > LB shirt from Strong Strong Supply. In my eternal love-fest for Meg Squats, I immediately snagged an Angel of Depth t-shirt (I mean, come on, that’s so clever) in lieu of having my fashion take a stand in favor of the metric system.
As much as I appreciate the metric system, I’m still in that phase where it doesn’t actually mean anything to me. It’s getting better, but if I were to walk outside right now I would basically describe it as something along the lines of “I guess it’s like somewhere between a little less than 0 to like 10 degrees? Maybe?” I know what 40 degrees Fahrenheit feels like in my bones, but 4 degrees Celsius basically means “I don’t know, somewhere between freezing and okay.”
It’s been a funny experience switching between metric and imperial systems for training. For the past few months, I’ve been training entirely in kilos. In the middle of a WOD, I don’t have time to pull out my phone to figure out what 2.2 x 35 kilos is. I just know if it’s something I’ve been able to lift before or not.
Switching back to pounds these past few weeks, my brain keeps playing tricks on me. I keep warning my coaches that if I look confused, it’s because I’m trying to do the math to convert from pounds back to kilos back to pounds. The hardest is when the skill or strength practice for a class is based on a percentage of your max. While everyone else is running over to the other side of the gym to confidently grab their weights, I’m usually standing off in the corner, hand on chin, multiplying by two, adding a little bit extra for good measure because I can’t be bothered with decimals, and then dividing in half so I can start at 50%. Of course, by the time I finish one set, I forget the weights that I laid out for myself to progress to and re-do the whole process over and over and over again.
Nevertheless, I’ve learned that it’s actually a pretty cool hack.
I’m the type of athlete that tends to get freaked out mentally once I hit a number that I’ve been blocked at in the past. It took me months to get past 50kg on cleans and each time I got close – as in, any number between 45kg and 50kg – I would bail on the lift, even when I was 100% capable of doing it.
The two tricks that helped me the most were: a) very, very small incremental increases (like, one to two pounds at a time), and b) “forgetting” how much weight was on the bar. The beauty of not knowing any measurements at all anymore is that I have the sensation that I never know how much is on the bar, so I never know when I’m supposed to be in my head about the weight.
The other day, we were practicing snatches, which is one of the most difficult movements for me. I was feeling pretty good and kept adding weight, little by little, with no goals or ideas in mind except to do what felt good. At the end of my session, I realized I had worked up to 75lb for a snatch complex (hang snatch, full snatch, overhead squat), which is over 85% of my maximum.
Normally, I would’ve gotten freaked out the moment I started getting close to 35kg, but you can’t be afraid of what you don’t know. In this weird transitionary stage, I’ve found a lot of freedom in terms of how I judge my progress because I have much, much fewer expectations – a better approach in general. The beauty is, of course, that the same thing is going to happen in reverse in two months.
Basically, my training approach right now is “confuse yourself until you succeed.” So far, it’s not going to badly.