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Beating Setbacks and Haters: It's Part of Your Training
Matt Foreman

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How many of you know a rap group called Cypress Hill?

Some of you probably do, and some of you probably don’t. You might have no idea who I’m talking about, because you’re not a hardcore gangbanger from the hood like me.

Most of their songs are about the basic rap topics…smoking dope, shooting people, ho issues, etc. But they’ve got one tune that directly relates to weightlifting. If you’re a lifter, you should know a few things about it because it clarifies some of the questions you’ve got about your life. So even if you think rap sucks and Tim McGraw is a direct ambassador of Jesus, you should still read this.

The song is “Rock Superstar.” It came out in 2000. It’s one of their biggest hits and, in my opinion, one of their best songs ever. It’s about the pitfalls, obstacles, and hard work that goes along with being a successful musician. The main idea of the song is that fame and success aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. You get the drift, right? It’s tough to make it to the top…people are going to lie and betray you…you could lose it all at any moment...there’s a lot of sacrifice involved and you’ve gotta fight hard to make it…that kind of stuff.

Let me hit you with a few lyrics (See how I said “hit you” with the lyrics? I told you I was from the street.) It goes…

“So you wanna be a rock superstar?
And live large, a big house, five cars, you're in charge,
Comin' up in the world, don't trust nobody
Gotta look over your shoulder constantly”

“You got to go for the gusto, but you don't know
About the blood, sweat and tears and losing some of your peers
And losing some of yourself to the years past gone by” (my favorite line)

“You wanna be a rock superstar in the biz?
And take shit from people who don't know what it is
I wish it was all fun and games but the price of fame is high
And some can't pay the way”


I’ve been hearing this song for years, but I thought about it in a different way the other day when I heard it again…while I was training. You see, Cypress Hill started their career in 1988. Almost all of their early songs were about weed, partying, and kicking ass. “Rock Superstar” was on their fifth album in 2000, and you can tell from the words that they were thinking about life a little differently from when they started. I think it’s safe to assume they had seen a lot of ups and downs, probably had plenty of rough time periods and learned the hard way that the road they chose is a lot more brutal than it seems when you’re “a young kid growin' up, looking in the mirror dreamin' about blowin' up”

It’s a lot like weightlifting. When you get started, you have dreams about breaking records, lifting huge weights over your head, winning big meets, or maybe even standing on a podium someday in a foreign land with an Olympic gold medal hanging around your neck. It’s one of the most exciting times of your life…the beginning of your career.

And you get to experience a lot of those things as you’re on the way up. You taste success. You work hard, and it pays off. You start to believe a lot of those posters you see on gym walls, the ones with motivational slogans like “If you can DREAM it, you can ACHIEVE it!” Life is wonderful because the dreams are coming true and you know it’s gonna continue.

Then it gets tough. Just like Cypress Hill, you start to find out that the dream has a dark side.

You’ll have injuries. You’ll stop making progress. You’ll get beat by people who haven’t worked as long or hard as you. You’ll get frustrated and start questioning absolutely everything, including your coach and yourself.

I hate to break it to those of you who are still in the happy-joy early stages of this game, but I can absolutely positively 100% guarantee that you’ll deal with everything I just mentioned if you stay in the sport long enough.

And that’s not all. You’ll also find out that not everybody is going to be supportive and positive while you’re clawing and scratching your way to the top.

Some people will disrespect you. They’ll talk shit about you behind your back. They’ll talk shi about you on the internet. They might even make sneaky moves to cheat you, hold you back, or take something away from you. Worst of all, they’ll do a lot of this stuff when you haven’t done anything to provoke it. They’ll do it simply because they’re miserable losers.

After this has happened to you a few times, you’ll grow some hard bark on the outside. We all know it’s not healthy to hate people and hold grudges, but sometimes it’s really tough to forgive.

Great… Wonderful… I just wrote a whole bunch of words about unpleasant things you’ll experience in your career. Doesn’t make this whole business sound fun, does it? Don’t worry, you’ll still love this sport a lot more than you’ll hate it, and you’ll also learn the following lesson.

“Rock Superstar” is one of Cypress Hill’s best songs. It was massively popular and it made them a lot of money, one of the highlights of their career. The thing we have to understand is that the song is great BECAUSE of all the hard times they went through. If they wouldn’t have had the pain and the downsides, they never would have been able to produce this song. Their best work didn’t come from the partying and the sex and the money and the drugs. It came from dealing with struggle and failure, and backbreaking effort over a long period of time.

I know you can see where I’m going with this. Your career as a strength athlete (or coach) follows the exact same description of this song. You start with dreams of glory, then you rise up the ladder and crush some ass, then you get kicked in the face a whole bunch of times, and if you can “pay the way” as Cypress Hill said, you’ll eventually crank out the best results of your life…just like they did with this hit.

“Some can’t pay the way.” They quit. I’ve seen it happen a million times. Some had good reasons. Most didn’t.

But if you can endure…if you can stand the test of time…the finest performances of your life will pour out of you, just like this song poured out of Cypress Hill’s hearts and brains. I’ve seen THAT happen a million times too. It’s a beautiful thing when people have their biggest days after they’ve had to wait a long time. I had to wait a hell of a long time for mine.

It’s true. You can trust me. I’ve been doing this a lot longer than most of you and I’m not lying. It really does work this way, but…”It don’t happen overnight.”

This article wasn’t about technique and training. I’ve covered those things before, and I’ll write about them again in the future. I wrote this because if you want to make a successful run in this game, you need to understand a lot more than just training. Good snatch technique can’t be your only weapon.

That’s all. Word to your mother.


Matt Foreman is the football and track & field coach at Mountain View High School in Phoenix, AZ. A competitive weightliter for twenty years, Foreman is a four-time National Championship bronze medalist, two-time American Open silver medalist, three-time American Open bronze medalist, two-time National Collegiate Champion, 2004 US Olympic Trials competitor, 2000 World University Championship Team USA competitor, and Arizona and Washington state record-holder. He was also First Team All-Region high school football player, lettered in high school wrestling and track, a high school national powerlifting champion, and a Scottish Highland Games competitor. Foreman has coached multiple regional, state, and national champions in track & field, powerlifting, and weightlifting, and was an assistant coach on 5A Arizona state runner-up football and track teams. He is the author of the books Olympic Weightlifting for Masters: Training at 30, 40, 50 & Beyond and Bones of Iron: Collected Articles on the Life of the Strength Athlete.


More from Matt Foreman

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1 Comments
Euan 2014-06-10
That was some damn funny and poetic stuff, great writing Matt. "All right your awesome, last thing I'm gonna say bye bye"
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