If you and your competitor walk up to the same barbell with the same genetics and the same amount and quality of training, recovery, and nutrition, but if your competitor has a stronger mind, knows how to channel positive emotion and ward off the negative when it comes time to compete, and has spiritual beliefs pulsating through their veins when yours are not, who do you think has a better chance of successfully making the lift?
I shared last week that it’s in the medicine wheel that the secret to becoming the best lifter – the best human – lies. A circle flows; it has no start or end. If you can learn to flow and just be, and if you can train your mind and harness your emotions I believe you’ll become unstoppable in lifting and in life.
Ready to say goodbye to bomb-outs and failed attempts? You’re about to get strong in every aspect of the word. Here are 4+ Ways:
- Push yourself physically.
- Follow a good program. Constant variance has some benefit, but getting on a structured, periodized program from a knowledgeable coach will help you discover your strength potential. Reach out to someone who knows more than you.
- Train with other people. Having people encourage you with cues or simply cheer as you go into the last reps will help you push harder and get better results.
- Work hard. You know when you’ve had a good workout and when you could’ve done more. Don’t let yourself leave the gym feeling like you didn’t give it your best.
- Dial in your nutrition. Training is only one side of the physical coin. See food as fuel and learn to time your meals around your workouts. Hire a nutrition coach, or get doing your own research in this area. Sign up for my nutrition newsletter for free resources.
- Do your mobility work – Okay, maybe the physical coin is three sided. Stretch. Take care of the body you’re constantly testing. I recommend ROMWOD.
- Learn to harness the power of your emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel emotions. Many of us have stopped feeling because it wasn’t cool or we thought they held us back from being productive, but I believe life is supposed to be an emotional experience and we can actually use them to our benefit. In a Barbell Shrugged podcast, AJ Roberts, a past world record holder in the squat said he used to get as angry as possible before he would lift, and he would release that all into the barbell.
- Mike Bledsoe, one of the creators of BBS and a past competitive Olympic Weightlifter said he would do almost the opposite and before he lifted, he would imagine every good thing that had ever happened in his life and he’d approach the bar and lift it with explosive joy.
- I take a slightly different approach, and leading up to a meet I visualize myself going through all of my attempts, and I let myself feel the joy of performing at my peak and breaking records in front of the people who love me. By visualizing with feelings attached to the experience I can make it more real and I’m able to show up and just do what I’ve already done a hundred times.
- Allow yourself to feel in your day-to-day life so you can learn to harness emotions on competition day, and so that you can squeeze more enjoyment out of your training along the way.
- Even by allowing yourself to feel low when you’ve suffered a defeat, you’ll learn to enjoy the wins even more, and you’ll attack training with more focus to get the job done right next time.
- Pay attention to the physiological response that goes with the emotion. Notice what happens in your body when you feel joy, sadness, loneliness. When I feel joy it feels like my heart is brimming with positivity. When I feel my most authentic form of happiness or pride it feels like my heart is vomiting rainbows. Knowing how these emotions feel I can imagine them before a meet, and breathe more life into my visualizations as mentioned above. I can also easily make myself feel happy during training or a meet, taking the edge off and making it more fun so I can perform well, because I know exactly how it feels.
- Become the master of your mind.
- Use positive self-talk. “I am fast.” “I am good.” “Today is my day.” “I am stronger than I think.” Replace the negative things in your head with positive affirmations and mantras. Like anything, this takes practice and you can’t expect your mind to transform over night, but with a year of work you’ll be able to do an inventory of thoughts and you’ll be astounded at the authentic optimism with which you speak to yourself, and the effect on your performance will be just as profound.
- Tell yourself basic cues. When I set up for a snatch I think, “Tight lats, get tall, punch up.” Three basic things. If I think anything else, I’m over thinking and I’m no longer actually being in the moment. Think a few basic things and then learn to just be and to enjoy doing what you love and you’ll become great at it.
- Set tiered goals. If your only goal is to win or to hit a PR you’re going to end up feeling defeated too often, and it’s going to hold you back from achieving your best. When I went into powerlifting nationals this year I had four, tiered goals: AAAA. Beat Jessica Benedetto and place 2nd AAA. Be on the podium and PR all my lifts. AA. Make a sumo deadlift (I’d only trained sumo like 12 times before this meet). A. Have fun.
No matter what, at the end of the day I could look at my goals and know I’d been successful. Failure wasn’t an option. My only options were success at varying degrees.
- You could also try the Shaun White strategy of “setting a serious goal and a fun goal” as I heard on the Tim Ferriss Show. For example, his serious goal was usually something like, “Win an Olympic gold medal,” and his fun goals were things like, “Win as many cars as possible this year,” and “Wear celebratory pants to the after-party.” By having the fun goal he took the edge off himself.
- Some pressure is good. Too much stress is bad. Adjust your goal setting so you have just the right amount of weight on your shoulders.
- Subscribe to my newsletter to learn these four other techniques: rituals, channeling the confidence of a champion, breathing techniques, and knowing the intensity level that you best perform at; I’ll send out this email in 2 weeks.
- Make your lifting about more than you; get spiritual.
- Develop an unshakeable belief in yourself, humanity, or a greater power. No one questioned whether or not he meant it when Muhammad Ali said, “I am the greatest.” The creator of the events at the CrossFit Games said it was impossible that anyone would ever be a repeat champion, and Rich Froning won, 4 times in a row: I think it’s no mistake that he has Galatians 6:14 tattooed across his rib cage, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
- I’ve discovered a different belief that pulses through my veins and is the reason behind what I do: I believe we’re all connected and that the most powerful force that exists in the universe is the one that links all of us together and that grows in power when each of us lives up to our destiny and releases a light that sets a fire in the hearts of others.
- Whatever your spiritual belief, I encourage you to live into one, because I think that as a lonely human we can only achieve so much, but as soon as our belief grows into something that cannot be shaken, that’s when we can reach our full potential.
- Learn to be fully present. Through meditation, mindfulness, and flow I believe we can master the experience of life. We live in what Robin Sharma calls “the age of dramatic distraction,” and if you’ve made it this far in this post you’ve probably learned to overcome the commotion more than most; cheers to you! Social media, television, and having the entire world at our finger tips has made it increasingly challenging to really be anywhere at any given time.
- Here are the basic definitions I teach of each of these types of being totally present in my program, Projekt Possible:
- Meditation is existing for a moment separate from our thoughts; it’s a calm way of just being. I suggest you start using the Headspace app. I have been for about four months and it’s completely changed my life – possibly the most important takeaway from this blog.
- Mindfulness is using your five senses to be completely in your situation and surroundings. It’s going for a walk and feeling and hearing the snow crunch under your feet, seeing the sun glisten through the frost in the branches of the trees, sticking out your tongue and tasting a snowflake, and smelling the fresh winter air as you take a big, crisp, cold breath in to fill your lungs.
- Flow is being so completely present to an activity that minutes pass like hours or hours pass like minutes and your creative genius is woken up. It’s that awesome training session where the weights move well and everyone in the gym is laughing together and you’re somehow done way faster than you normally are. It’s that conversation with a friend that keeps you up until one a.m. absolutely fascinated and connected the entire time. Flow is when you’re creating a fabulous painting, podcast, song, or blog.
- Learn to be fully present to your life and you will crush your training and hit PRs at your next competition.
Psyching yourself out before a lift isn’t doing anyone any favours. Everyone who loves you wants to see you succeed in that attempt.
You owe it to yourself and to the world to grow beyond the gym.
- Learn to experience emotion so deeply your heart can’t contain it.
- Master your mind like a monk so it becomes a positive sanctuary from which you can channel strength, love, and passion.
- Let your spirit shine so brightly the people around you can bask in its beauty.
The world deserves to see you lifting and living at your full potential.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Subscribe to my newsletter to learn these four other techniques: rituals, channeling the confidence of a champion, breathing techniques, and knowing the intensity level that you best perform at; I’ll send out this email in 2 weeks.