Self-Talk: Mars vs. Venus* –Coach Carmen

What goes through your head before a big lift?  Chances are the answer will be very different depending on what you have going on inside your pants.

Have you ever seen DM Blomquist, Andrew Moritz or Nike Germano attempt a PR?  If you have, you’ll know it.  Each of them let out this savage shout, grunts, walks up to the bar with purpose and unleashes a tsunami of brute force energy as they get that barbell to obey their command.  Seen Kevin Seaman lift?  I need to say no more.

Me, I’m a little different, and chances are, you might be too.

The clean and jerk is my favorite lift.  To me, it is the most impressive show of strength for a woman and I fought hard to break the three-digit barrier on the bar.  That morning in July of 2013 I strapped the weight belt down hard, I took a deep breath and locked down my midline and thought to myself “I don’t think this is going to happen”.  If there was a worse way to begin a lift, I don’t know what that would be.  Eventually, attempt and attempt, and much encouragement from Viv, I hit 105# but the voices in my head remained.

Fast forward to Friday Night Fights: Clash of the Classes.  Audra and I were the ladies repping the 6pm on the clean and jerk.  The music was blaring, the weights were clanging and banging – it was PR city.  Audra addressed the bar, hit a few good lifts and then went for a PR.  Let me say a few things first, in case you are unfamiliar with the beauty/beast that is Audra – she is amazing.  She has put in serious work as a CrossFitter and has made tremendous gains in both strength and skill work.  To see her attempt this monstrous clean and jerk with the same apprehension as I had made me think – are our brains sexist?

Time after time, I have seen strong, powerful, beautiful women get inside their own heads before their hands even touch a barbell.  We are defeating ourselves with “I don’t know” self-talk before we even start the lift.  I have rarely, if ever, seen a male lift this way.  Maybe they are better at hiding their insecurities, maybe it has to do with playing with G.I. Joes when they were little, maybe it is yet another evil side effect of the male dominated culture we live in (kidding, kind of) but these men approach the bar with an “I’m going to fucking lift this” attitude – and it works!

Let me put this challenge out to all of the ladies at Albany CrossFit – kick that negative self-smack-talking bitch out of your head and don’t ever let her back in.  Christmas Abbott, a well-known female CrossFitter and box owner, has a video on YouTube of her performing a metcon.  Before she starts, she shakes out her arms and yells “Get big!  Get bit!  Uh!!”  I have taken this on as my personal motto; my own little rally cry before I start something I think is scary at the box.  I encourage everyone to find one for themselves and say it, out loud, before everything you do that scares you.  Not feeling particularly strong today?  All the more reason to say your mantra out loud.   Fake it ‘til you make it; say it out loud and you’ll start to believe it.  Fill your head with such positive self-talk that there is no room for doubt.  Will this guarantee a PR every time you encounter the barbell?  No, but it is a great first step in evicting that negative self-talker and making a stronger, better, beastlier you.

*Unless otherwise noted, the statements in this article have no scientific or psychological backing other than the author’s own life experiences and observations.  But she’s pretty smart, so it’s all good.


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