A “stick point” is a weak point in a lift where you have a tendency to stall when the weight gets heavy. Like when you get stuck three inches from your chest on a heavy bench press.
Hitting a stick point always frustrates me because I know that if I could just somehow force the weight over that point it would go up the rest of the way fairly easily.
Most people recognize these physical sticking points and work on them. They do exercises to strengthen their weak points like starting their bench from their stick point and locking out.
But very few people ever recognize their mental “stick points.” Most people never try to push themselves beyond that first muscle burn or fatigue because they believe that they are truly and utterly at their limit. They never test that limit or try to move beyond that mental stick point by performing one more rep or using just a little bit more weight.
I believe that with most people the mind will fail before the body does. We feel fatigued and our brain will start telling us we are too tired to continue. BUT our body still has the capacity to perform a few more reps.
The question is…which do you listen to? Do you listen to your brain telling you that you are tired or do you push your body until you can’t lift that weight one more time and your muscles are shaking?
I’ve found that most of my clients stop when their brain tells them they are tired and their muscles first start to burn.
I’ll watch them as they do bicep curls to press. The weights will still be moving fluidly through the motion with no muscle shake or even a slowing of pace. BUT they will be telling me they can’t possibly do one more. They will try to stop or take a break before the set is over. I push them to finish. I can tell their muscles still have more reps left in them while their brain is screaming out to them that they are tired.
And most like to be pushed like this (especially when they realize that they will get great results from pushing themselves!).
It was nice to have a client realize that she hadn’t been pushing herself to her limit. The other day she told me that she would never have done more than 10 repetitions with 10 pounds if I hadn’t forced her to use 15lbs and do 20 repetitions.
She was amazed at the fact that, while she struggled to perform the last few reps, she could in fact do that much weight for that many repetitions. I pushed her to move beyond the fatigue that she thought meant she had pushed herself hard. I helped her do the extra reps and weight that pushed her beyond her mental stick point.
So next time you think you couldn’t possibly do one more rep or use a little more weight, try it! Don’t go crazy with this of course…you don’t want to be unsafe and drop a weight on your head or cause yourself to barf (unless you are into that), but do CHALLENGE yourself.
If you challenge yourself, the worst thing that will happen is your body will fail. You won’t be able to do that one extra push up or lift those two extra pounds. BUT that failure will move you closer to success the next time!
So work on those mental stick points. They may be holding you back from getting the exact results you want! Just remember…your brain will give up before you body has to!!