Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

This week in the Snatch Magazine community conversations (hosted on Sundays in the Instagram Stories) we talked about fear and weightlifting. I asked the viewers what were some moments in their sport that made them feel the most fear or anxiety. There were some major takeaways, but the biggest to me was the volume of responses about lifting heavy weights and fearing injury. This seems obvious, but I think there are a number of us that discount how often we as athletes face such a primal fear head on.

Have you ever shown a non-athlete your lifts? They probably asked how heavy it was and said something like “Oh, that’s so scary!” or “How did you not hurt yourself?” It seems this fear never really stops, it just becomes managed. In the first part of the story, I asked a series of poll questions. 96% of respondents said they have felt fear or anxiety in there sport, but a nearly matching 90% said their fear or anxiety was manageable.

For the open answer forum, I got over 90 responses. I want to highlight these because I think there are many powerful answers, but there is also power in volume of answers on some of these questions. Below are the top 6 categories of fears from women who finished the sentence:

“I feel fear/anxiety in my sport when…”

1. EXPECTATIONS

Fear of letting myself down

I don’t wanna let my coach down

I feel like I haven’t progressed as much as people expected me to

I fear I will put in so much work just to be mediocre

Meet prep isn’t going according to plan

My coach has poured so much time and effort into me and I fear I’m not performing as well as I can

The fear of letting down those who have made sacrifices to help me become a weightlifter

I feel like I’m not making progress like I “should” be

Not performing my best

My mind is not clear

Fear of disappointment (from/in myself) from missing a lift

I’m falling behind on certain benchmarks I should be hitting

Anxiety around the feeling that I have to prove myself all the time, especially as a woman

Trying to organize my time/life to fit everything in

2. ALL EYES ON U

The gym is busy

Entering a new environment and feeling the need to prove my place

My coach or teammates focus only on me during a lift

Training at a high percentage in a crowded gym

Snatching

Stepping up to the bar! Also sometimes navigating my way around the gym

Being watched. Makes comps super difficult to cope.

I’ve got to lift and the fear of others’ judgement was too much

I think about my body on a platform in front of a bunch of people

I have to go to my gym at a different time when there’s a group of different people than usual

I know people are rooting against me

3. COMPARISON

Comparing myself to others

Other women ask me if I’m afraid of “getting big”

I think it’s the whole comparison thing. Comparing people in your weight class.

I know girls have bigger lifts than me

4. HEAVY LIFTS AND NEW PRs

Going to a PR

Attempting a PR

Psyching myself out before attempting a heavy lift

Looking to break old PRs I’ve been stuck at and failed to break before

I see a 1RM programmed. Ironically, it’s worse when my training has been going well

Attempting heavy weights/maxes

Approaching a weight I’ve never done before

When lifting heavy or trying to set new PRs

New/different numbers on the bar

I question my ability to go heavy. “But what if I can’t get it today?”

Going after PRs or heavy lifts

PR attempts are the biggest

When I move up in weight! I start my lift and suddenly I’m like “holy shit this is heavy!”

Going for a PR, or a weight that’s been difficult in the past

Before a PR attempt or after missing a lift

I know I have to max out or do heavy percentages

Almost exclusively when I’m approaching higher weights and/or competing

At the end of a training cycle when every rep is hard and I question everything

Trying a weight I’ve never done before or failed before

Training leading up to a competition

Max out days

I’m a week or two out from my meet and suddenly can’t hit 85-90% due to nerves

Attempting a PR or a weight I’ve failed before

When I have to max out during training or hitting close to a PR

Going for a new PR that I have failed in the past… basically fear of failing over and over

Right before the lift and approaching max weights

5. INJURY

Fear of getting hurt/ mental blocks

Post injury

Coming back after an injury

Doing something for the first time after injuring myself

Going back to old PR weights where I’ve gotten injured multiple times

I fear I’ll never come back fully from my injury. Never hit old PRs.

I’ve taken a few months off and am scared to start again/wear down my body.

Getting hurt again (and again)

I lose control of the bar or start to lose my balance in overhead lifts

Chronic pain flaring

I have to worry about a recurring injury :(

I’m afraid I might get injured or might be injured

Not being able to do it because of injury

Currently injured and fear losing strength/progression

Getting heavy after an injury

My body’s not feeling good and I’m lifting heavy. Afraid of hurting myself

When body parts hurt during training

Hurting myself during a failed attempt, which has happened before

6. COMPETING

Test day before a competition

Will I make my weight cut?

Being too close to not making weight

Weigh ins

I’m standing at the chalk bowl and I’m about to go up and lift as I stare at the barbell

I was the first lifter of the day in a competition. That was EXTREMELY nerve wracking.

First attempts

Not making my openers

Missing my first snatch in competition

Going up for a third attempt

I am close to bombing out

In competition, fearing bombing out

New colored plates on the bar, like blue plates instead of yellows with a bunch of change. Psychologically it just feels heavier and scarier!