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View Full Version : Mental prep before attempting lifts


Gavin Jones
11-08-2008, 07:06 AM
What prep do you do? Any specific words/routine you work through in your head?

This goes for weightlifting and powerlifting

glennpendlay
11-08-2008, 07:43 AM
ive seen lots of lifters get ready for heavy attempts, no two are the same. One thing that I think stands true for everyone, before you walk up to the bar the psyching up, convincing yourself you can do it, etc, should all be over with. Never walk up and grasp a bar that you dont think you can lift. Once you begin your "final approach" to the bar, everything should be done the same wither its 60kg or 160kg. No hesitation, no stalling, etc.

Steven Low
11-08-2008, 10:04 AM
Empty your mind and let your body DO. Like Glenn said.. no hesistation or stalling.

Make up your own routine if you so desire but keep these things in mind.

Jean-Patrick Millette
11-08-2008, 11:48 AM
...

Kris Reeves
11-08-2008, 12:30 PM
I talk shit to the bar for a few seconds to get thinking positive, but as soon as I've psyched myself up, I shut up and clear my head...turn on auto-pilot and just do it.

For what it's worth, someone (a power-lifting guy) told me once that the most successful lifters (successful in that they have a high percentage of completed attempts) on average clear their head for 10 seconds before the lift. I don't know if he pulled that out of his ass or what...but I figure I'd just pass that nugget along.

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-08-2008, 01:48 PM
Gavin,
I've competed in about 20 powerlifting comps (last one was 1990), 1 weightlifting comps (two weeks ago), and nearly 100,000 lumberjack sporting events (10 events at most competitions - I've competed for the past 30 years at as many as 30 events per year - and sometimes more, but not as much in recent years). I don't even want to think about how many training sessions I've had over the past 30 years....I've not missed many sessions and I love training more than I do competing.

The approach I take to the bar, the axe, the saw, and the chainsaw is the same. I do it before every training session, be that lumberjack event or in the gym.

I'm reminded of the first two lines of an En Vogue song entitled "Free your mind."

- "Free your mind. And the rest will follow. Be color blind, don't be so shallow......"

I've spent the past six years meditating, practicing tai chi and yoga daily. Learning to "free the mind" is a wonderful thing.

You simply think of nothing and allow the body to take over and respond. Rely upon your preparation. Make whatever you're doing become wrote memory. Make your neural pathways adapt to this mode. Even during your training. Especially during your training. That's the reason for your training.

Hope that helps?

all the best,
Arden

Brian DeGennaro
11-08-2008, 02:44 PM
I agree with everyone else: just let it happen. I like to forget that I've loaded extra weight onto the bar most days I lift, just so I don't need to focus on the weight but my form. Another thing that helped a lot was starting to measure everything in kilos. Things just seem so much lighter when you write down kilos. If that doesn't work, write it in poods or stones!

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-08-2008, 03:10 PM
I agree with everyone else: just let it happen. I like to forget that I've loaded extra weight onto the bar most days I lift, just so I don't need to focus on the weight but my form. Another thing that helped a lot was starting to measure everything in kilos. Things just seem so much lighter when you write down kilos. If that doesn't work, write it in poods or stones!

"Just let it happen"

One of the best books written on the mental game of sport is the Inner Game of Tennis. Short thin book, but a good read and has several applications in all sport.

All the best,
Arden

Jamie Jamieson
11-08-2008, 03:24 PM
I have competed in both Powerlifting and Weightlifting. Depending on which I take one of the following approaches:

1. Powerlifting, I like to get revved up, rage is your friend :-) On a tie breaking third attempt I get a buddy to slap me hard on the back - gets me pissed off! I perform better in Powerlifting this way.

2. Weightlifting is a different story, getting all revved up does not apply! My mind must be clear, trust our preparation, be confident you can do it and allow it to happen.

Arien Malec
11-08-2008, 05:23 PM
I'm reminded of the first two lines of an En Vogue song entitled "Free your mind."

- "Free your mind. And the rest will follow. Be color blind, don't be so shallow......"

Also relevant to weightlifting is the quote from Funkadelic: "Free your mind... and your ass will follow"

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-08-2008, 06:02 PM
Also relevant to weightlifting is the quote from Funkadelic: "Free your mind... and your ass will follow"

:D . On a related note, I don't know how many folk here knew or remember Mike Rinaldi, but he often wore a shirt of Mr. Natural. Except on the shirt, it said "Mr. Snatch-ural." I believe this was Mike's nickname. In any event, the shirt said "Mr. Snatch-ural says Keep A Tight Asshole."

Very similar if you really think about it.

All the best,
ARden

Kevin Perry
11-08-2008, 09:52 PM
:D . On a related note, I don't know how many folk here knew or remember Mike Rinaldi, but he often wore a shirt of Mr. Natural. Except on the shirt, it said "Mr. Snatch-ural." I believe this was Mike's nickname. In any event, the shirt said "Mr. Snatch-ural says Keep A Tight Asshole."

Very similar if you really think about it.

All the best,
ARden

:D heh that got a chuckle

Aimee Anaya Everett
11-09-2008, 08:31 PM
Get yourself in a good state of mind...

I wrote a couple articles about it here (http://www.performancemenu.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_7_12&products_id=82) and here (http://www.performancemenu.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_7_12&products_id=91)

Chris Salvato
11-09-2008, 09:38 PM
ionno, im a lot newer than most of you guys...

what I usually do is pace around the platform during my rest (around 2-3 minutes) giving myself a pep talk...

when i am about 20 sec left in rest I go to the bar, get in my stance and stomp hard 3 or 4 times, i find that really clears my head.

Finally, when I am ready to lift, i say to myself as i do it:
1) Stance
2) Grip
3) Shins
4) Chest
......
......
5) PULL

By the time I get to realizing I passed Step 5 the bar is either on my shoulder/over my head or its a fail.

But what do I know, only been cleaning about 5 months now :P

Kevin Perry
11-09-2008, 09:40 PM
I tough talk the bar and let em know whos boss

Kris Reeves
11-10-2008, 04:47 AM
I tough talk the bar and let em know whos boss


Talking shit to the bar is key. :)

Daniel Labuz
11-10-2008, 05:38 AM
I meditate between sets, rarely do I rest over 2 minutes between sets unless I'm lifting real heavy. I'm terrible at meditating, but it does help me better than anything else I've tried.

George Mounce
11-10-2008, 06:03 AM
I believe a little green alien said it best....

"Do or do not, there is no try."

We are what we think we are, and if you think you can accomplish something, you will.

The samurai were very intuitive about such things, putting everything in focus as life or death, throwing away their lives without thought. In the Hagakure it even talks about living your day as if you were being smashed upon rocks, impaled by hundreds of arrows, or ripped apart by gunfire. I never thought it possible, but my current job and the split-second decisions I've had to make so far that saved not only mine but others has given me a perspective that fits with this mentality. If you even have one thought of failure before the lift, you are done. If you go into the lift with the mentality of moving a mountain and succeeding, even if the mountain doesn't move, you have achieved the next step.

/zenoff

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-10-2008, 08:14 AM
This may sound a little strange, but I'm a big time Star Wars fan and I've studied a lot about eastern philosophy. A lot of what Yoda taught Luke in Return of the Jedi is very Buddhist in a manner of speaking.

Given that I'm an avid yoga practitioner and perform tai chi daily, the introspection of the almost Buddhist teachings of the Jedi Knights in Star Wars has become part of training philosophy not only in my sport, but in my training. Not that "the force" will ever allow me to drive an axe in deeper or lift a heavier weight. But there's a lot to be said about the focus and concentration of understanding the importance of accepting your feelings and going beyond them or "reaching out."

It's one of the reasons I practice "Fa Zhing" (sp) explosive style tai chi. It's predicated upon harnessing your body's chi to a focal points that goes out your hands in striking motions. With me, the chi is focused out the handle and to the axe head or out the handle on onto the crosscut saw. The predicate is silk reaming and generating the chi from the feet up through the body and out through the hands.

I often joke that after a brutal set or an excruciating event session that I "saw Buddha." But there are moments pre set or pre event, when I let go of the present and allow my body to take over, that I sorta feel at one with my surroundings. Then when that brief session of hell is behind me, I sort of drift - almost light headed - no real thoughts in my mind. Just impressions. Just fleeting impressions that really make no sense, but are deep in their own meaning.

It's really cool. Almost euphoric.

It's for that reason I'll never need alcohol or recreational drugs. :rolleyes: Just give me a kettlebell or a barbell.

Sorry if that's TMI, but the mind is a powerful thing and learning how to use it, harness it, and play with it is a good thing - especially for sport.

All the best,
Arden

I believe a little green alien said it best....

"Do or do not, there is no try."

We are what we think we are, and if you think you can accomplish something, you will.

The samurai were very intuitive about such things, putting everything in focus as life or death, throwing away their lives without thought. In the Hagakure it even talks about living your day as if you were being smashed upon rocks, impaled by hundreds of arrows, or ripped apart by gunfire. I never thought it possible, but my current job and the split-second decisions I've had to make so far that saved not only mine but others has given me a perspective that fits with this mentality. If you even have one thought of failure before the lift, you are done. If you go into the lift with the mentality of moving a mountain and succeeding, even if the mountain doesn't move, you have achieved the next step.

/zenoff

Derek Simonds
11-10-2008, 08:42 AM
Arden and George really good thoughts. Aimee as well. I have tried to explain why BJJ and MMA are so important to me to a lot of people and what Arden and George just said is probably the best way I have ever heard it explained. When I shake hands to start a match my brain shuts off. Completely. I am not thinking about work, family, bills, the economy nothing. I am just a big blob of doingness. I will watch video of my matches and I will see myself doing stuff that I don't even recall. Those are the moments that I absolutely cherish.

I am not quite that way with Olympic lifting. In fact I probably over think the lifts some of the time.

I have read many articles and a couple of books on the being in the zone. I have always related it to that zen state of doingness where no thought is necessary everything just happens.

George Mounce
11-10-2008, 06:13 PM
In the Zen/Buddhism world its called samadhi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samadhi_(Buddhism)). If you've even been doing something so intently that you forget the outside world, that is a form of samadhi. I guaruntee if you lift weights like that, you will lift a ton of weight.

I'm that way with many things, I am doing them so intently that it literally takes my wife coming up beside me and hitting me to break my concentration. It is a very, very interesting state of mind. One day I hope to obtain absolute samadhi, and maybe even what is termed kensho (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensho).

So if you haven't guessed it yet, every day I spend at least 15 minutes meditating using the bamboo method of Zen meditation.

Gavin Jones
11-11-2008, 04:53 AM
When putting the question out there I was originally thinking along the lines of NLP like what Chris suggests here:



Finally, when I am ready to lift, i say to myself as i do it:
1) Stance
2) Grip
3) Shins
4) Chest
......
......
5) PULL

By the time I get to realizing I passed Step 5 the bar is either on my shoulder/over my head or its a fail.


> I try to clear my mind, walk onto the platform and as Im setting up my stance I say to myself 'I own the platform and cage', then follow the steps chris mentions above as a mental checklist but without actually saying it in my head. Then boom! do the lift.

> All the other stuff is great as well. Love the Yoda quote, think I may say that in my head from now on! (in yodas voice)

Gav

Ben Moskowitz
11-11-2008, 11:08 PM
So if you haven't guessed it yet, every day I spend at least 15 minutes meditating using the bamboo method of Zen meditation.


What does this involve?

Susie Rosenberg
11-12-2008, 05:31 AM
Yes.

This fading away of everything except the moment is what I have missed most during my seven months of mostly-down time recovering from having my neck rebuilt.

I guess it's no accident that I started learning T'ai Chi as my first foray back into physical movement. I discovered that I could have that same sense of emptiness of mind, pure existence where time falls away and has no meaning, during T'ai Chi practice. I had thought that only way to that white-pointed state of utter emptiness was through a Crossfit metcon. At least that was my experience before my surgery.

I suppose, in a very Buddhist way, I needed this surgery to open doors to other pathways to being. I've learned to experience complete focus in T'ai Chi and my dance classes, which are gentle physically, but require focus and precision.

I still wanna get strong, though.

Susise

glennpendlay
11-12-2008, 09:06 AM
I think this quote is appropriate for this thread.

"At the peak of tremendous and victorious effort, while the blood is pounding in your head, all suddenly becomes quiet within you. Everything seems clearer and whiter than ever before, as if great spotlights had been turned on. At that moment, you have the conviction that you contain all the power in the world, that you are capable of everything, that you have wings. There is no more precious moment in life than this, the white moment, and you will work very hard for years just to taste it again. -- Yuri Vlasov, Soviet Weightlifter

I believe I have felt what he is talking about here a couple of times in each of the main sports I have done, wrestling, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting. I will always remember each time I felt this way. When it happens to you, you will know it, and it is at this time that your mind is truly right, and prepared for maximal effort.

glenn

Garrett Smith
11-12-2008, 09:42 AM
Susie,
I think as "westerners" we tend to get into that state most easily through intense physical effort. The only problem with that is our ability to maintain that effort :) and the toll it takes on our body to get there.

Tai chi, and other related practices, will allow for one to remain there longer and quite likely make the body healthier over time (a long time!).

I like getting there both ways, yoga - gymnastics - OL all get me there a bit differently.

Mark Gleason
11-12-2008, 09:50 AM
I am a fairly laid back guy, so I never use the 'psyche up' routine.
I don't get angry or talk smack, just walk up to the bar set it up, breathe in and pull... perhaps that's why my lifts suck...

Gant Grimes
11-12-2008, 09:50 AM
The more moving parts you have in your pre-lift routine, the more chance you have of messing something up. Mind like water, people.

I clear my mind, visualize what I want to do next, and go do it. This applies to any sport or activity. If it's weightlifting, I crack my neck, walk up, get my grip, and go. I lift it or I don't. The whole process takes a few seconds.

I used to compartmentalize depending on the sport or situation, but it was too many routines to keep up with. Learning to properly visualize outcomes was the best lesson I learned. You've done the movement thousands of times before, and you've just done it again in your head. What you do next is only a natural outcome of what has already happened. No big deal.

You Buddhists should drink some spirits read Morihei Ueshiba's stuff.


"Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the Way of a Warrior."

or

"The contest has already been decided from the beginning, Merely by having the intention to fight with one who embodies the universe, my attacker has fixed his mind on violating the harmony of nature itself. In other words, the moment my attacker fixes his attention on fighting with me, he has already lost."

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-12-2008, 10:20 AM
If I can find that stuff in a downloadable form, I'm all for it. I drive a lot for work and that's a perfect time to introspect and not text or email on my phone.

The only reading "for pleasure" I do is on these sites. That's sad really. :confused:

All the best,
Arden

The more moving parts you have in your pre-lift routine, the more chance you have of messing something up. Mind like water, people.

I clear my mind, visualize what I want to do next, and go do it. This applies to any sport or activity. If it's weightlifting, I crack my neck, walk up, get my grip, and go. I lift it or I don't. The whole process takes a few seconds.

I used to compartmentalize depending on the sport or situation, but it was too many routines to keep up with. Learning to properly visualize outcomes was the best lesson I learned. You've done the movement thousands of times before, and you've just done it again in your head. What you do next is only a natural outcome of what has already happened. No big deal.

You Buddhists should drink some spirits read Morihei Ueshiba's stuff.


"Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the Way of a Warrior."

or

"The contest has already been decided from the beginning, Merely by having the intention to fight with one who embodies the universe, my attacker has fixed his mind on violating the harmony of nature itself. In other words, the moment my attacker fixes his attention on fighting with me, he has already lost."

Arden Cogar Jr.
11-12-2008, 10:22 AM
Same with me.

I've actually found that my ability to obtain that state is a lot easier when I'm lifting and competing. I have a tendency to drift when I'm performing my yoga and tai chi. I think it has more to do with the length and amount of focus I need to put myself under. If that makes any sense?

All the best,
Arden


Susie,
I think as "westerners" we tend to get into that state most easily through intense physical effort. The only problem with that is our ability to maintain that effort :) and the toll it takes on our body to get there.

Tai chi, and other related practices, will allow for one to remain there longer and quite likely make the body healthier over time (a long time!).

I like getting there both ways, yoga - gymnastics - OL all get me there a bit differently.

Dave Van Skike
11-14-2008, 02:42 PM
I've been thinking about this issue for a couple weeks now. I think like all things, the answer is..."it depends" I struggle with the mental prep part of competition a lot and for many years seemed to only hit big goals when I was least prepared and least expected it . I came into some my best bike races completely hung-over and shitty. My mental prep a was that I was pissed off and had nothing to lose.

Now, I do most of my training at a PL gym where all top sets are done with some degree of rage psych up as mental prep.. I find that most of the time, it actually is detrimental to the session...I get too angry and lose focus, or get too aggressive with the weight selection. Even if it let's me hit PR's every other week, the danger is that sessions will devolve to record poaching.

OTOH, I've had some amazing competition experiences where I went into the event relaxed, gradually worked my focused until I was completely jacked up and then nailed it. Doing this takes a lot of practice at turning it on and turning it off.


Here's what I try to do,

At all times be mindful of what you're doing and why you are there. If it's a volume day, getting you're Gorgoroth face on is not going to help. Focusing on perfect movement, staying at lighter weights if need be and really visualizing your practice between sets is the important mental prep.

OTOH, if it's a PR day or a competition, you've got to let yourself go a little at the right moment but stay relaxed until it's TIME. For me, it's ok to come a little unhinged. Just like with a true max effort lift, things look might get a little ugly or borderline, The mental state can be a little sharp and raggedy. It's OK to care enough about the outcome to get excited.

The key I think is to learn how to get yourself in and out of that state quickly without letting it rule every session. Use it as a tool.

Yuen Sohn
11-14-2008, 07:12 PM
In the Zen/Buddhism world its called samadhi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samadhi_(Buddhism)). If you've even been doing something so intently that you forget the outside world, that is a form of samadhi. I guaruntee if you lift weights like that, you will lift a ton of weight.


I remember feeling something akin to this at practice not long ago. I had arrived at LBH very late and didn't get started until well after 9PM. Now I'm usually very slow and methodical in my warmups so of course, only having about 15 total minutes to lift, I was pretty frantic to say the least. Funny thing is that while I was running around like a chicken with no head -- shuttling back-and-forth with bumpers and frantically loading the bar -- when it came time to setup for each lift, it felt like time had stopped. I was able attain an extreme sense of peace and focus in the moments before lift-off. I don't think I'd ever felt that focused while lifting and I ended up making all snatches, including 5 consecutive heavy (for me) singles at the end...and I never go 5 for 5 in the snatch at that high a percentage. I've tried replicating that feeling since, but have yet to match it.

There's so much variety in pre-lift behavior I've seen at comps so far. There are lifters who meditate and/or talk to themselves for a good 15-30 seconds, one guy I know who does smelling salt and charges onto the platform screaming (ee-yah!), and others who approach the barbell with the excitement level of Eeyore. All of them are very accomplished lifters who settled into a ritual that works for them.