by Nick Hickey
It's squat day. Gut check time. You're staring at a loaded barbell with the potential to crush you under its weight. Do you have what it takes to push back? Do you have what it takes to keep coming back workout after workout, set after set, rep after rep? Few people can argue that the mind is a powerful tool. It's tough coming back each week and attacking weights you have never been able to lift before. Progress comes slow and with hard work. You have to be ready. When you walk into that gym to train, you have to be physically AND mentally prepared.
By no means am I an expert. In my opinion I'm not even an advanced lifter. I, like many others, have failed countless times in the gym. Think about the last time you missed a weight. How did you feel? Angry? Discouraged? If you are anything like me, you were probably fuming. There can be many reasons why failure occurs, but your failures can be parlayed into successes. That is, if you handle your failures with the right mind-set. Oftentimes a lifter will question his workout program, his diet, his recovery and many other things. If you are putting in the work you need to in order to excel in those areas, there is another ingredient that needs assessing: your mind.
I've recently experienced failure. The bench press is my weakest lift. I used to hate it. But over the last year I have made great progress. In my recent training sessions I have been trying to hit a given weight for sets of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. Week 5 of my training I missed the weight. Week 6 I came back and got it. Week 7 and 8 of my training I stalled with more weight yet again on the bench, but this week, I nailed it. I did not change my diet, program, or recovery practices whatsoever. I just convinced myself that I HAD to do it. NO OTHER OPTION. Get the weight or you're done.
I sometimes talk to myself in the gym. "If you don't get this weight, you're weak and not worth coming into the gym." Or, "You better get up from this squat because if you don't, your back is going to snap." And, "If you don't pull this damn dead-lift off the floor, you lose the right to train today." to name a few. This is some of the ways I try to psyche myself up. I am motivated by the do or die mentality. That may not work for you, but there is something that will motivate you to push yourself. You just have to find it. The only way you will find success in the gym and in life is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. No one ever got big sitting on the couch!
I'm sure many of you have read HouseOfMuscle.com Founder & Owner Joel Sward's story about determination, One More Set. If you haven't, you absolutely have to check it out! It is one of the best gym stories I have ever read. After passing out in the gym and being sent to the hospital he still came back to the gym that night and finished his workout! Talk about mental toughness! This is the power of the mind and the WILL to WIN. Joel was and still is a firm believer in training your mind to succeed. He has told me many stories of spending hours meditating and focusing on accomplishing his goals.
There are countless other stories about overcoming obstacles with mental training. Russian powerlifters are known for their superior mental preparation when it comes to weight training. We all know the success that they have had in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting over time. The key is to visualize. Spend time each day meditating about the workout to come and I guarantee you will have a renewed focus and energy in your training.
Training in the gym is as much a mind game as it is a physical game. You have to have your mind in the right place or you will fail. Convince yourself that failure is not an option; MAKE yourself believe you WILL succeed. Norman Vincent Peale says, "Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture." So, make a very clear picture in your mind of what you want to accomplish and then go out there and do it! Whatever you have to get done in the gym today, attack it with reckless abandon.
Don't give up! DON'T QUIT! Be relentless!
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