Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GET MENTAL! - By Krista Brittan


Originally posted on NaturalStrength.com on March 10, 2001, (Editors note: This could have gone in the Mind Strength section, but since it is primarally directed toward women, I put it in the Hard Training Women section.)

Ladies! Its time to get mental! If you don't already know it, your mental state is KEY to the success of your training, lifting and progress.

There is a whirlwind of information out there about diet and training and most of it is crap. (Editors note: Especially the zero and very low carb diets!) You wont find squat (pardon the pun) about getting mentally prepared for your workouts in the mainstream training magazines. (Only in the good magazines like the ones in NaturalStrength resource section.) Your state of mind is everything! If you tell yourself you cant do something than guess what? You cant! I know you have heard it before, but dont just hear the words, actually listen to them, understand them and actively change the way you prepare for your lifts as a result.

It doesnt even start first thing in the morning when you get up. It starts while you are going to bed and thinking about the day you have ahead of you. If you know the next day you will be taking on a new, challenging exercise or attempting a weight you havent achieved before, use visualization.

See yourself walking into the gym (or where ever you train) with confidence, knowing you are going to have an incredible workout. Dont bring with you memories of a past poor workout or lagging negativity about missing a new PR your last workout. Feel the surroundings; look and listen for any possible distractions and be aware of them so you cant use them as an excuse. Go through the motions of your workout. Load the bar or pick up the dumbbells or grip the handles. Choose your weapon that you will use to destroy the mental blocks that you have set up for yourself in the past. Visualize yourself just kicking the shit out of that weight! Perfect form, perfect execution you nailed it and focus for a few minutes on how great that feels.

Visualization is only one ingredient in the recipe of mental preparation. You have to take that vision and make it a reality. Do exactly that when you enter whatever pain domain you call your gym.

Refuse to believe any misconception, myth, stereotype and down right CRAP that you ever grew up believing about women and lifting about women and anything for that matter. Get utterly infuriated inside when you hear a fellow sister say, "I dont want to bulk up", "Women dont dead lift", "Chin ups are for men", "I just want to get toned" or "I really dont need any more than 5 lb. weights". Get mental when you hear anything remotely similar to that and use that frustration to fuel your workouts. Use those comments as a challenge to prove them wrong. Women ARE supposed to dead lift and squat and bleed and sweat and swear and be damn good at it!

Remember when you were a kid or a teenager and anything and everything you couldnt do or werent allowed to do, you wanted to do even more! But, when you did you always ended up in trouble, right? Now is the opportunity to do all the things you stereotypically shouldnt. Plus, the added bonus is you wont be "grounded" if you do. You will become a conqueror, a heroine, a fighter, a role model, and a stronger person both mentally and physically.

Getting mental is all about confidence in your abilities. You need to understand and believe that there is no threshold on what you can do or what you can lift. Believe that there is no maximum. With that state of mind you will be able to accomplish tasks and feats you never ever thought possible. The human psyche creates its own ceiling. When you mentally tell yourself, "I bet I can bench 125", even though that is a positive thought, you just set yourself up for not being able to lift 130. It is great to have a goal of a certain poundage but dont stop there. Tell yourself "I will be able to squat 200 by fall, and 225 by winter" and so on and so forth. Dont put a cap on it. Invincibility is the mind-set you want to establish for lifting. Only then can you truly start to discover what you are capable of lifting.

Confident is not a four-letter word. Do not confuse confidence with conceit. When someone calls you cocky, simply say, "thank you". Take that as a compliment.

Eliminate the words cant, wont, couldnt, wouldnt, shouldnt, will not from your vocabulary please. That is an excellent place to start on the road to positive thinking. Out loud, right now, say "cant" and be aware of the inner feelings that occur as a result. Negations produce similar type feelings within. They make you feel crappy. Now, out loud say "can". Feel the difference? Your head is held a bit higher, your heart feels a bit lighter yet stronger, and your posture is more erect. Keep that in mind. Make an effort to go about your day without using negations in your sentences. You can say the same thing as a positive. Rather than "I cant go for a walk tonight", say, "I will go for a walk tomorrow morning". Try it!

I want you to picture the most mental guy or gal at your gym. The one who walks in to the gym with a purpose and gets right to work. They dont socialize or really speak to anyone. They hardly even smile. They are focused and it is very obvious that they are thinking very hard and seriously about what they are about to do. They may make a lot of noise or deep breathing or have little rituals. They may stretch in the same order and place, they may have a very systematic approach and have to do everything a certain way. Or, diversely they may approach the bar with amazingly little noise, breathing or preparation. Basically, they are in the right state of mind for ultimate results. Try to get inside their head and think what they may be thinking. Give yourself the task of developing your own system for getting mental.

If your training and diet are right on track, you get ample rest, dont over train, you have great genetics, but you still feel like you are just spinning your wheels then you may need to get mental. You may be lacking a key ingredient in the training recipe mental preparation and self-confidence in your lifting.

The only way to gain self-confidence in your strength and abilities as a lifter is to overcome your fears. If you are telling yourself you cant do dumbbell presses with 40 lbs., then DO IT! Maybe it is only one rep, but next time it will be three, then five and before you know it youve done a set of 6-8 at a weight four weeks ago you told yourself you could never handle.

Most of our female role models are those who have achieved things we never would have thought possible. They take a challenge and make it a reality. They make us proud that they are women and that they represent us. They acquire possibly the physical, mental or emotional attributes we personally are lacking. They have no fear of their fears and are not hindered by their weaknesses. Learn from them. That is why we have role models. To use them as a source of inspiration and motivation to be more like them. Dont just watch them as they succeed and dream of being like that. Be like that. Everyone has the ability to be a role model for others too. That is the ultimate reward to have your accomplishments recognized and mimicked by others. In order to do that, you have to have what it takes mentally. Get metal, and know you can do it; whatever "it" may be or mean to you.

Although, remember that you are responsible for your state of mind only. We can try to be role models for others but each individual is 100% responsible for how they chose to think and feel. Once you have discovered the power of your positive thinking you will not be able to understand why others are so hard on themselves and negative. You will want to try and make everyone feel the way you do. Focus on yourself first. Confidence is very contagious. You will influence others without even trying.

I would like to share with you my own personal experience, a recent one where I was letting mental barriers block my progress:

I have always been very jealous of those who could perform wide grip pull ups on their own, especially women. It was a primary goal of mine to be able to do one, just one on my own. I had only been properly training my back for a short period of time and figured that it would be a year before I would see my vision as a reality. You see I put a mental block on my progress I told myself it would be a year. Mistake. For months I was doing bent over rows, chins and assisted wide grip pull-ups religiously. I was very pleased with my progress in the rows. I had excelled from doing reps of 5 at 25 lbs. to over 80 lbs. But, I was still only doing sets of 8 pull-ups with a chair. One day I was in my gym showing a friend of mine how to perform wide grip pull-ups. Without even thinking about it, I put my hands on the chin bar and without a wiggle or struggle lifted myself up to the bar and back down. After a few seconds I realized it "I just did one on my own holy shit!" I started jumping up and down in the gym and hugging my friend. I was elated. And I did it in about 3 months of me establishing that as a goal. I kept saying "I thought it would at least 6 more months before I would be able to do that." That was my problem. I never tried! I kept putting the chair under me because it wasnt enough time in my mind anyway. It wasnt until I literally forgot about the chair that I discovered I was underestimating my abilities. That was just last week. So tomorrow when I am scheduled to do chins I will not tell myself how many I will be able to do, I will tell myself I there is no limit to the number I can do! Ladies you really, truly can do whatever you set your mind to do. But that is the key, you must first set your mind to do it. All the old cliches are fact. My mother used to tell me "Krista, you must think before you act!" Usually my Mom was saying that because once again I messed up. Now, I consider that one the eleventh lifting commandment. I make a conscious effort to do exactly that before every lift I perform and every challenge I am faced with.

It is not about merely getting psyched. It is about sheer self confidence, absolute conviction and utter determination. Get Mental! Great things willfollow.

Think - Act - Achieve!



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Bob Whelan

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