My Bench Press Didn't Make Me Want to Cry

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  • By Susan "The Wife" Bartley
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My Bench Press Didn't Make Me Want to Cry

My last blog was all about a big mental shift that happened during our 4 days of Be Activated up in Columbus, OH.  It gave you a taste of the magic that can come from the Be Activated system and RPR (Reflexive Performance Reset) which ever one you are lucky enough to learn.  But sometimes, when we talk about the emotional stuff it can seem a bit to “woo woo” for some people.  In fact, I had someone say to me, after reading my last blog, “is it really that good, I mean sounds more like you have just drunk the koolaid”.


I understand that emotions are not tangible measurements for most people.  Especially, if you are not in tune with your emotions.  It is hard to wrap your brain around a system where you rub a spot on your belly and all of a sudden, you feel happy or sad or mad or safe.  I’m with you.


Instead of emotions, let switch and talk about actual physical changes that can happen.  Let’s talk about physical pain and how to get rid of it.


For the past year I have not been able to bench press.  Every time I did ANY pressing movement, I would pay for it almost immediately.  My hands would go numb, my wrists would throb, my elbow would hurt so badly that I often wanted to cry, and my biceps would be so tight that straightening my arm was panful.  I would drive around in my car with my right arm stretched out behind the passenger’s seat just to try and get my biceps to let go and give me some relief.  Most recently, this happened after I did some upper body sled on a Saturday and by that night I was wrapped in ice, with a pain level of about 8 vowing to never pick up a straight bar again.


This has been going on for a year.  About 4 months ago, I also developed a weird rotational pain in my left arm at the bicep.  Anytime I would rotate that arm (like in bed at night) pain would shoot up to my shoulder. Also, if I was sitting down and went to brace myself on that arm it would give out.  I had no strength in it.  This pain led me to our massage therapist who worked on me for 6 weeks but made no changes to my pain level.  He sent me to my chiropractor who did bring the pain down after some quick adjustments, but it still never went away, and I didn’t get much strength back in that arm.  At one point, I think because I complained so much, Marc actually asked if I thought I needed to see a doctor.  Luckily, I was at least smart enough to know that I didn’t need a surgeon.


This has all been going on for about a year.


Coincidentally, it has been about a year that I have had to step in and direct some changes to Spud, Inc.  We had been functioning on autopilot, with everyone responsible for their jobs and sometime around last October I realized that the ship was not as tight as I needed it to be if we were going to respond to the next level of growth.  Once I stepped in to guide things, I stopped training consistently, I stopped doing my activations daily, I started stressing every day about what needed to be done and how we were going to move the business into our next growth phase.


For a year I have been under a ton of stress and pressure AND I have not been doing any activations.


Activations make you feel absolutely amazing, but I am not going to lie they hurt sometimes.  The farther away you get from doing them consistently the MORE they are going to hurt when you go to dig in.  In anticipation of that hurt I had stayed away.  I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favors but cest la vie.


I walked into the 4 day Be Activated class knowing that I was broken and needed a ton of work.  Luckily, the nature of the class is that you end up getting all the work done by your classmates so when we left, I was feeling like a rock star.  Since then I have kept up with twice daily activations, checking in with my breathing constantly, doing my ninja butt squeezes and generally checking in with my body and how it is moving.


One of the many amazing things that came out of our class is the potential to be part of an experiment that, if it works, could be revolutionary.   I am not going to say more than that, because I am not sure it will actually take place, but on the chance that it does I have to get back to training like a powerlifter – which means bench pressing.  To train for this potential experiment I have written a new training protocol, one that will be based on a new 1 rep max in Squat and Bench.   On this past Thursday I tested out my squat and then on Friday I tested my bench.


Before hand I did the full round of activations which took about 30 minutes and then when I was done, I did a shorter check-in version of the activations.  Throughout the training I focused on my breathing, making sure my breaths were deep belly breaths. 


And today.


One day after benching seriously for the first time in a year.


When typically, I would have a pretty high pain level.


Today, I have absolutely zero bicep, forearm, wrist or hand pain.  None.  You can palpate my elbows all you want, and you will not find that nasty spot that made me want to cry before.


It is magic.  It is voodoo.  It could even be the devil (just kidding).  But it works.


I know that my pain isn’t gone forever.  In fact, if I skip a day of activations I will no doubt find myself facing that same level of pain that I had before.  But the more I do my daily activations, the easier they will become.  I won’t find as many nasty spots.  I will also learn which are my triggers spots – the activations that make the most difference – and I can check in periodically to make sure they stay clear and I stay pain free.  Doing the activations daily will not just make me pain free.  It will also help to decrease my stress around the work I have to do and it will help me be a happier person all around.  I will be able to train, work and enjoy life and hopefully perform better than I have in a long time.


My question to you is: What is your post-workout pain level?  What amount of pain do you put up with because “that’s just the downside of training”?


If you answer these questions honestly and realize that post-training you actually suffer a lot then maybe you should check out RPR (Reflexive Performance Reset) or try to find a Be Activated practitioner in your area.   Start to realize that you don’t have to be in pain after you train.


For the first time in a long, long time I am not in pain and it feels wonderful.


Do you want to learn more?  Check out Joe Defranco’s podcast with JL Holdsworth the co-founder of the RPR system:


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