7 min read.
Ok, this one has the potential to get a little weird… and deep…. which is what “she” said. Once again, I will state that I am not an expert in human psychology, or a life guru – far from it. In fact when I first started my Coaching website & facebook Page I always said I wanted it just to be a source for training techniques and demonstrating movements, but lo-and-behold here we are a year later on and I’m doing side planks in my pants and pistol squats with sledgehammers…
As a coach I suppose it’s hard to not develop an intricate set of people skills that make you come up with the weirdest explanations to relate to people, allowing them perform a certain way. From: “Stop snatching like Michael Jackson” to “Imagine your feet are shotguns” if a cue helps someone to do something better, you are doing your job right. No two people react the same way to words and one great cue for one person might be the biggest roadblock to another.
A coach is generally in charge of the atmosphere of a session. You have to be able to invigorate people, diffuse situations, inspire, set fires up asses, console, discipline, the list is endless – especially interesting if you are doing a guest session somewhere else you don’t know and have no control of the surroundings. Teaching beginners is often the most rewarding, most exciting and in many ways, the easiest. But what happens when you get past the “technique” phase of training? What happens when you have the moves nailed and you’re getting stronger? What happens when you have passed beginner?
Things get harder.
Let me introduce you to “yourself”
You are a mess, you’re full of doubts, wandering thoughts, needs for cookies, you hate your job, you wonder what people think about you… you don’t want to get up in the morning, can’t be bothered, want to watch twenty box sets in a row, scared to speak up about things, have bad days all the time, unsure of your opinions…. the list goes on, how the fuck could you even lift? Especially that heavy ass weight? That’ll break your bitch ass!
How do I know you so well?
Because we’re all the same. We all have thoughts like that, but the wonderful thing about it is – if you’ve created all of those thoughts, you can create more! Different ones! Better ones!
Think about it, you have a bunch of personalities. You do not act the same way with your parents that you do with your friends, you don’t jump around the same way at school as you would when you’re at a club drunk. When you’re by yourself you are completely different to what you are like when you’re with your lover. Try to be glad about everything you have and resentful about everything you don’t at the exact same time – you can’t, you can only focus on one feeling at a time.
So how does this apply to training? If you watch your favourite athletes, do you really think they are the way they are on Social Media 24/7? I’ve lost count of the amount of times people I know who have met their favourite weightlifter and have came back saying “They’re actually really nice!!” Like they’re surprised! What did you think was gonna happen? They were going to shout in your face and throw you over a mountain? The most down to earth, chilled out people you’ll ever meet are big ass strongmen and Powerlifters.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ronnie Coleman actually lift a “light weight” it’s the persona he created that shouts stuff because it gives the internal feeling of confidence and strength. It’s not something to laugh at or think of being silly, it really works. Watch the best lifters screaming before lifts and slapping the shit outta themselves, look at their eyes, genuine belief in what they’re about to do, is it put on? Yes, and no.
Read any successful trainers progress posts, what do they all say – not only have they lost inches, weight blah blah blah but their confidence levels are through the roof and they’re doing things they never imagined themselves doing. That mindset of wanting to be better and actually accomplishing little goals every day is the personality shift that makes the new person, the body just happens to adapt too – because of the new habits.
When heavy lifting is concerned, you have no room for doubts, no room for thinking about the spaghetti you didn’t finish on Thursday. The beast that you create doesn’t have time for that shit, it lifts, it destroys, it conquers. It may feel like acting at the start but with a little work you can have a secret tool that does the scary stuff for you. A lot of people don’t think they have it in them, but imagine if you were a parent and some random person smacked your child for something… you would END them. I’m telling you now there is an uncontrollable monster inside you that you can tap into.
I used to laugh at “visualisation” techniques years ago. Like, I was a big strong boy, I don’t need to pretend to be strong. But in the back of my mind there was still a self conscious Tom. Being a little bit cocky or imagining you’re a fire breathing dragon are two different levels of strength, being just little bit cocky doesn’t cut the mustard when you get to a certain point.
Whatever makes you feel amazing, you never need to tell anyone what it is, but if it gives you an intrinsic feeling of strength it will work for you. I used to get really nervous public speaking so something I used to do was put the “man of steel” soundtrack on, clear my mind and imagine I was Superman for 10 minutes in the morning before a seminar. Sounds really silly when it’s written down but it really helped me stop freaking out for 10 minutes which made calm the fuck down. (Notice how I use swear words when saying something personal, silly embarassed brains)
When going for max lifts it depends on the lifting personality you create. Some people need a clear head and have no emotion and others need to think about decapitating their boss….. again, we’re not here to judge. The big thing to take away from this article though is that nothing is stupid, seeing what works for you and what doesn’t is supposed to be what training is about, finding yourself, experiences and all that. You are in charge of the person you create so why not add some badassery into the mix? Just because it seems forced at the time doesn’t mean it won’t become a cool part of you and something you enjoy!
For many people that hour at the gym is somewhere for them to escape from themselves and their worries, so why the hell not imagine your sick pump is you turning into the incredible hulk or your max back squat is you escaping from a trap room with a ceiling that’s trying to crush you. That max deadlift is a gigantic fallen tree that’s crushing your friend and you have to save them – whatever makes you FEEL strong.
Express yourself more and don’t ever be afraid to put yourself out there! If you can’t do something, invent a you that can. You will still be that you when you’re back to being you, because you came from you… you see?
If you enjoyed this blog I would really love to hear some things you tell yourself before going for a max lift! There are no rights and wrongs, everything is perception and we can all learn from one another.