Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DEC 23 2009 - Why I hate Mirrors

No, it's not 'cause I'm ugly, but nice try. I hate mirrors in the weight room because they mess with my balance. I learned to squat by reading Mark Rippetoe's excellent book Starting Strength, and he is vehement about looking at a spot on the ground six to ten feet ahead while squatting. His reasoning is that it makes balancing a little easier to have a fixed reference point at about that distance. Since reading that I have not squatted at a facility with mirrors right in front of the squat rack. Until today.

When I squat at home I have a little water mark on the wall that I like to focus on. At the YMCA, the mirror stopped at about the same height as my happy little water mark, so I picked a spot just below the mirror as a point of reference. As soon as I started squatting, I saw myself move in my peripheral vision and couldn't stop from looking up. I wound up with my weight too far back and wobbled a bit in the bottom. Fortunately, this was my first warm-up set, and I had about four more sets to correct my tendency to look up.

But the mirror made it so hard to not look up. It seemed there were two types of distracting thoughts runnning through my head. One is the visceral "look out for danger" response that I have to anything moving in my peripheral vision. The other is more cerebral. I want to check my form. Are my knees staying out? Is my chest up? Did my lower back round at the bottom? It was actually easier to ignore the distractions caused by the mirror once the weight got heavy. The last two reps of each work set were hard enough that all I could think about was driving up.

But I still hate the mirrors. The only reason they're in the weight room is so the boys doing their alternate dumbbell bicep curls can 1) make sure they're flexing their glutes or 2) make sure someone else in the gym is looking at their glutes.

Squat 3sets of 5 reps (210# / ~95kg)

As Quickly As Possible: 100 Pullups

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