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Over the past week a physical challenge has swept across my training team like a disease.  We all agree that it’s a rather stupid challenge, but once one of us took part, we all felt the need to take the test.  I say the need instead of the desire, because it is a mental imperative that we all attempt to keep up with the others.  There is no choice in the matter.  It is what makes us a team and not just friends.  It’s what makes us competitors and not just “lifters”.

So what was the challenge?  It’s called the 5 Minute Back-Squat Challenge.  Put your bodyweight onto the bar, set the clock to 5 minutes, and do the maximum amount of reps you can in the time.  So, if you weigh 135 lbs, that means you’re loading the bar with 2 plates to weigh 135 lbs, and repping 135 lbs for the next 5 minutes.  Pause whenever you want.  Rack the weight and step back from the rack as needed.  However the clock doesn’t stop.  You need to have a spotter, both to be safe and to monitor your reps.  No half reps, count.

Here is a video of a girl repping out 70 at 150 lbs.  This is obscenely impressive!

Over the past few days my friends Chris, Frank, Jorge and Kenny took the challenge.  Their results:

  • Chris, weighing 178, took the challenge with 185 lbs on the bar and hit 64 reps.
  • Frank, weighing 165, took the challenge at 165 and hit 62 reps.
  • Jorge, weighing 190 lbs, put exactly 190 on the bar and repped it 66 times.
  • Kenny, at 165 lbs, did his bodyweight an astounding 73 times.  Most impressively, Kenny hit 40 in a row to start!

Ken Lee Back Squat Form

With that being said, now it was my turn.  I am significantly weaker then all 4 of these guys.  All of them have a max squat at or above 400 lbs, whereas mine sits around 285.  However, my strength is my muscle endurance.  I’ve always trained to push my body past it’s limits with regards to muscle endurance.  I thought I had a chance to put up a solid number.  In the end, I did ok.  I posted 67 reps.  I didn’t video it, as I didn’t have the space on my phone, but I did have my team witness it.  It seems like I should be proud.  However, I’m not.  I’m motivated to be better.

My hip mobility and overall strength limited me to a depth of parallel on the majority of my reps.  Compared to the average person, I hit a very solid depth.  However, compared to my teammates, I was too high.  My number just doesn’t count.  I can’t count anything that isn’t 100% up to standard.  It doesn’t matter whether they were there to watch (and they were) or if I was on my own.  I have integrity.  This is why I’m making this public statement.  My 67 reps were, in comparison to my team, void.  But I’m not discouraged.  I’m motivated.  I’m more motivated then ever, because I know that I am capable of competing with them!

Over the next month, I’m going to focus on my mobility even more then usual, and I’m going to retake the challenge.  This isn’t about needing to beat them, because once a number is put up anyone can train to beat it.  This is about needing to compete with them.  It’s about needing to know that not only am I maxing out my potential, but I’m doing it 100% the right way.  It’s because I’m a competitor, it’s because I have integrity, and it’s because that’s what I need to do to really be a part of the team and not just a “hanger-on”.

I have achieved more then others not because of talent, but because of this mentality.  I will never quit.  I will always strive to be better.  Bring on the challenges.



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