You’ve Already Failed Too Much!

McG Clean Fail | Barbell Shrugged

I want to talk about failing in the gym.

Now, I’m all about facing fears and challenging yourself, even to the point of failure sometimes.

I know that’s how we grow and become better.


All to often I see people working on certain skills and FAIL WAY too often!

Most common is technical things like Snatch, Cl&J, or Muscle Ups.

But it can really happen with anyone, whether it’s getting your first pull-ups or toes to bar or whatever.

Depending on the movement, I have two different schools of thought here.

We’re going to focus on weightlifting right now or really anything where you can adjust the weight lighter and complete the lift. (Bodyweight stuff is different because you can’t adjust the weight to make it lighter)

So often I see people failing on Snatch or Cl&J and whether it’s 1RM day or not, I think you’re failing too much.


How do I know you’re failing too much?

Because in my opinion, if you fail more than once, you’ve failed too many times.

Here’s the deal, these lifts are HIGHLY technical. And whether you think you can or not, you CAN NOT dial in technique with 85%+ on the bar. I’ve heard it all too often, “my technique gets better as I get heavier”. My response, well then your technique needs to get better in general. If you need a heavier load to catch a snatch in the bottom, you need to work on mobility and movement, NOT snatching heavy!

The lifts can be broken down to 3 components if you ask me:

  1. Technique
  2. Confidence
  3. Strength

Technique and confidence need to be the top priority and you can’t build EITHER of them failing with 90% of your 1RM.

I want to talk to you about something called DELIBERATE PRACTICE.


Deliberate practice is more than just practicing.

When we’re talking about movement, deliberate practice would look like this:

A video posted by Mike McElroy (@ironsharpcoach) on

Set up video camera (they have replay apps or you can just replay it yoursDo something like 10 min EMOM- 1 Squat Snatch and start @ 65-70%. Do 1 rep, walk over and REVIEW the video pick one thing to focus on the next rep. Do the next rep, walk over and REVIEW the tape again.

You’re ALWAYS critiquing yourself. You can NOT go up in weight unless the lift was near perfect. If you do this just 2-3x/week or even 1x/week, overtime, your technique will be leaps and bounds above where it was. You will also build confidence in yourself because you’re consistently hitting lifts and not having failed reps.

Lastly, this forces you to be more engaged mentally. It’s not uncommon to do 15-20 min EMOM’s of Snatches with 70%-95+ of my 1RM without any misses. This is because I’ve practiced this deliberate practice for years. I’m fully focused on what I’m doing and not just going through the motions. This means, when I’m on the clock in a Fitness Competition, I know with full confidence that I can hit the lift I’m about to go for.

It is EXTREMELY rare to miss a lift or not perform under pressure and this is a big piece of that puzzle.

So be smart, train smart.  Be deliberate in your practice and GET BETTER!

Coach Mike


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