Truly Strong

by Innes Randall

You want to get truly strong in the gym and in life? I know one way to do it: Learn to never quit on a rep.  I am going to attribute many solid attributes to people who push through a rep and I’m going to attribute many shitty attributes to those who puss out on a rep. So be it, it is real. You think that you have that attribute to never quit? If you don’t have it, you are a pretender and training will always be something that owns you.  It’s a never-say – die attitude on a rep that you and everybody in the room doesn’t think that you will complete but you do anyway. It’s the moment in the squat when you have two voices in your head. One that says don’t try it, and one that says push through no matter what happens.

Here is what most lifters do to save face: They give a half hearted attempt and say, “I gave it my best shot.” That’s B.S., and an experienced coach can see it right away. On the squat for example, they creep into the bottom when all of their other reps were fast and explosive. Changing that form just a little bit makes it look that much better when they fail. But they know, inside they know.

Here is a test that I like to do with some folks I train: Lets say that the workout calls for a total rep count of 30 reps at 70%.The lifter can decide how they want to split it up- 5×6, 10×3, 15×2, whatever. Let’s say that they decided to do 15×2 and they have two sets left, two doubles to complete. I’ll challenge them to get 4 reps on their last set. A great lifter accepts the challenge and pushes through. A lifter who doesn’t quite have “it” looks at me with a look that says, “I don’t want to venture from my comfort zone because it’s gonna hurt a whole lot.” They are satisfied because they believe that that everyone in the room thinks that they gave it an all out effort. The bad ass lifter makes the attempt with fire in their eyes. He or she abandons all of the restraints. They momentarily say fuck what all of these “form coaches” always say about not rounding your back or bouncing out of the hole. They get the rep because they have enough shit in their life that sucks and they have had enough with life beating them down. They realize that the weight room is a place where they can find solace from all the disappointments that they face and all the bosses that tell them what to do. They say “Fuck ‘em all” when they enter the weight room. They use that fire to fuel their workouts. They realize and know in their guts that squatting is important to making you strong in every part of life. You think that that places too much importance on lifting weights? It is important to the lifter who won’t quit. And this type of lifter doesn’t really care if other folks think it’s important or not. The other guy who does the aforementioned I –hope- nobody- notices- that- I’m –quitting act has a huge character flaw.  This is a person who has no guts and will only reach a point in their training life where the lay person may think they are strong, but to the truly strong they will always be weak. They usually can bench a good amount of weight, but that’s just because a bench press is an exercise for lazy people. Lying on your back is a lazy way to train. Strong folks press, squat and pull. Oh yeah, the folks who quit on a rep are usually way too concerned with who is natural and who is not, and use their natural status as an excuse to why they just can’t get over that 500 pound deadlift. The quitters are always training for something but just can’t seem to peak they way that that they want to.

In my experience, the lifters who have the balls to push through a rep are tough people in life also. They have character and work their asses off in every endeavor that they pursue. They train when nobody else is there to encourage them,. They street fight when they are disrespected by someone, no matter how old they are, male or female. If they lose a fight,   they always go down swinging. They grow up working blue collar jobs and enjoy the feeling of a job well done. They understand that being uncomfortable goes with the territory when they are training or for that matter, pursuing anything that is really worthwhile. They don’t get caught up in all the bullshit of relationships and worrying about gossip or what other people think of them. You think that’s a lot to attribute to not quitting on a rep? It’s the damn truth. There are tough folks and there are soft folks and that is that. They train when they feel shit, because not training isn’t an option. They make themselves go to bed hungry sometimes just to do it, to test their will. They box, or train MMA not to always compete, but to defend their family or their friends. What’s funny about these folks is that they are humble also. It’s a lesson in frustration to try to get them to talk about themselves. They would rather tell a story about someone else and make fun of themselves in the process. They also realize that training is not a spectator sport. You won’t find them screaming and yelling in the weight room or acting like they can’t put their arms down cause their lats are too big. Who has lats like that anyway? Maybe Yates, certainly not any one that I know.

Alright then, time for you to get to work. Time to push through that last rep. Time to fuck some weights up when you don’t feel like doing it. ..What voice will you listen to?

Innes Randall is a veteran lifter and Coach who has amassed a wealth of experience in the Strength and Conditioning world over the course of a long career. He will be a regular contributor to


15 Responses

  1. numnutz

    Great post Innes, thank you for those inspirational words. I hope to read much more of your contributions.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:35 am

  2. MAD9692

    Looks like this first article will set the tone for the site. Well done.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:35 am

  3. Drew


    November 2, 2010 at 1:48 am

  4. The Dane

    Good post, very true points. The other extreme, however can also be bad – i.e. pushing through balls to the wall when you’re body is desperately telling you to back off.

    I’ve gotten injured more than once on that account, and am still not very good at recognizing when I need take a step back.

    I think telling the difference between when it’s just being scared of the pain/weight, and when it’s actually necessary to be careful, is one of the valuable lessons that you learn from spending hours under the bar.

    November 2, 2010 at 1:55 am

  5. Sho ’nuff!

    November 2, 2010 at 2:24 am

  6. Bony

    Good stuff.

    November 2, 2010 at 2:39 am

  7. grizzlybuck

    Good stuff, thanks for offering it up

    November 2, 2010 at 2:39 am

  8. Ted Turner

    I agree with The Dane. Sure having the fire inside is important but I’ve injured myself when I should have known better, listened to my body, backed off, and come back another day. There is a lot of scare tissue built into me now because I wouldn’t give up on a rep.

    I have no idea why the shot at natural folks was necessary. Determination has nothing to do with taking steroids or not. Seems like a gratuitous, defensive lashing out.

    And this site is promoting street fighting?! Wow. Lame. Especially lame when the other dude pulls a knife or gun. That’s going to fuck up my life at least for a while. I don’t give a shit what some looser in the street says or does. He is not getting any more of my energy than necessary. I’d rather save my energy for lifting.

    Maybe you have a lot of shit in your life and are looking for outlets but that is not the only way to have the fire inside. Promoting these outlets as admirable is not.

    November 2, 2010 at 6:44 am

  9. David Long

    This hit home with me..Great article! I am surrounded by runners and peopel who don’t know a deadlift from a deadhead so I am the only one who gives a shit if I add a rep, or a pound or hit a personal best. It would be easy for me to quit because no one will ever care if I do it or not..except me. That shit will keep me up at night and posts like this will keep me hungry to did deep.

    November 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

  10. Awesome post. This made me stop work and think about leaving in the middle of the day to hit the weights instead of waiting for the end of the day. I cannot wait to read more thoughtful and insightful posts on this site.

    November 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm

  11. CRB

    Ted Turner,
    You are the pussy Mr. Randall so clearly describes. I bet you think that grade school kids should not play dodgeball because it is too “aggressive”. Stop Whining. No one likes a whiner.

    November 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

  12. Yawning Chain

    True words for sure. Under the bar is the one place where all the phonies can’t get to you. Thanks for the site. I’m a villain in training.

    November 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

  13. SVV

    CRB, I think you missed the point of Mr. Randall’s diatribe and Mr. Turner’s response. I think you would do yourself a huge favor by critically rereading the two posts. While I disagree with the notion that disrespect “on the street” deserves a physical response, I do find that being able to take care of yourself in a situation like that is crucial to being a strong (in every aspect) person. I have been in several warranted and unwarranted fights and can honestly say I hang my head in shame for the unwarranted ones. Someone merely disrespecting you and eliciting a violent response from you would fall under unwarranted.
    Awesome post overall and I am very excited for future posts. Thanks to all involved.

    November 5, 2010 at 8:15 am

  14. H-Bomb

    Love it! I always find comfort in the weight room, getting out all my frustration with the world by pushing myself on that last rep. Thanks for a great post!

    November 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm

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