You are about to do a heavy lift. Your mind is racing… “Keep my elbows up, make sure my knees are out, squeeze my butt, stay tight…” and this is repeating over and over again in your head. As your mind is saying everything you need to do, you walk up to the bar, ready, set, lift…and fail. Now your mind is filled with disappointment. “How did I fail? I knew everything I needed to do…” We have all had these moments, and it sucks! So how can we avoid this?
Timothy Gallwey is a respected tennis coach who understands that athletes need to control their body and their mind. Gallwey’s theory is that you have two selves. Self 1 is your mind, your subconscious, and Self 2 is your body, actually performing the movements. The problem with the situation above is that your mind is saying over and over what you have to do because it does not trust your body will do all of those things and that doubt causes your body to fail. By thinking too much self 1 is causing tension and muscle conflict in the body and self 2 undermines its own confidence. The key to becoming a better athlete is to improve your relationship with self 1 and self 2.
Think of a time when you had the best workouts. Maybe you PRed on Fran, had a 25lb backsquat PR. What were you thinking? I bet your body and mind were in harmony so you reached peak performance. “Quieting the mind means less thinking, calculating, judging, worrying, fearing, hoping, trying, regretting, controlling, jittering or distracting. How can you quiet your mind and trust your body?
Try this: Next time you step up to a bar, stop your mind right there. Sit where you are in a thoughtless state.
Stop judging yourself. As you start to think about the lift, do not just think of the lift positioning but visualize your body doing it. Warm-up the range of motion while you rehearse proper technique in your head. Bring the mind and body together before attempting the lift. If you do have a bad lift, or movement, let it go. “Letting go of judgments does not mean ignoring errors. It simply means seeing events as they are and not adding anything to them.” You didn’t keep your knees out on your last front squat? Okay, move on! You are aware of what happened and can improve, but do not over-think it. Go back to visualizing yourself successfully completing the lift.