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7 Steps to a Bullet-Proof Mindset for Strength Training

Guest post by Andy Bolton of Deadlift Dynamite

1. Realize that strength training is a violent pursuit

You may have never thought about strength training as something violent, but it is.  Think about it: when you squat, you put a weight on your back that could potentially cripple you if it all goes wrong. When you bench, you lift a bar above your body that if dropped on your neck will probably kill you.

And the deadlift encourages you to lift weights from the floor that could break your back if you don’t have the correct form and know how to stay tight.

Indeed, if you don’t get a buzz from watching MMA, boxing, rugby, American football or some other “violent” sport, you are probably not cut out for serious strength training.  However, if you do get a kick out of watching those sports and have a passion for getting stronger, you need to develop…

2. Aggression

If you want to dominate the kind of weights that the average lifters can’t even hope to lift, you have to be aggressive.

When you are in the hole on the squat, with your max on your back, you have to drive that bar back to the start position like your life depends on it.

The same goes for the bench press: when the bar touches your chest, you have to crush it with serious aggression and drive it back to the start position.

And as for the deadlift, I don’t think any other lift is so dependent on being in the right state of mind. Watch my world record deadlifts and you will see my training partner slap my face beforehand for several minutes.  As Dave “Bulldog” Beattie does this I am allowing my aggression to build. When the time comes I push Dave out of the way (not easy to do given that he’s 300lbs) and then I unleash hell on the bar.

That’s the kind of attitude all the best guys have.  If you want to see aggression, watch me lift, watch Captain Kirk lift, watch Chuck Vogelphol lift, watch my training partner Brian Reynolds lift—all great lifters, all very aggressive.  You can get ok strength without aggression, but if you want to be super strong, you have to be an animal.

With that said, you also need…

3. Clarity

The ability to think clearly and see things as they are is of vital importance to the strength athlete.  Only when you think clearly will you be able to objectively work out your weaknesses and address them accordingly.

Only when you think clearly will you know when to push and when to hold back, when to get psyched up before a lift and when to just be aggressive when you are actually under the bar.  Only when you think clearly will you be able to stay injury free and ensure your own longevity.  Clarity is essential for success. Most people are unclear and unsuccessful. There is a pattern right there.

4. Visualization

Visualization is a simple yet highly powerful mental skill that all successful people have.  Science has proven that if you think about something over and over again and with enough intensity, your brain can’t actually tell the difference between whether or not you have actually done what you are thinking about or just imagined it.

So… the trick is to visualize yourself going for and SUCCEEDING with personal bests over and over again before you actually attempt them.  I “saw myself” lift 1,008lbs thousands of times before I actually pulled it for real.  When the time came to do it in competition, I actually felt like it was nothing new.  Embrace visualization and use it to help you get stronger.

At the same time…

5. Avoid excess negativity

The reason why I say to avoid excess negativity and not just to avoid negativity is because we all have negative thoughts and we always will have.  The difference is that some people dwell on negative thoughts and allow them to sabotage their success, while others quickly eliminate them and/or work out if there is a hidden message.

In relation to lifting, the biggest example of negativity is people who see themselves missing personal bests.  Never, ever do this and if you catch yourself doing this, stop it straight away and imagine yourself succeeding 10 times.  In order to ‘catch’ negative thoughts before they get out of hand, you must have…

6. Focus

Tony Robbins says that most people live their lives like a leaf on a river. In other words—they go where the river takes them, with no real control over where they are going.  If you want control over your life and your strength, you must be like the speed boat on the river; able to pick its course and do what it wants—instead of being dictated to by your surroundings and circumstances… you must take control and make things happen.

When you are focused, you will naturally take control and spend your time more wisely.  Right now, do a quick exercise that will get you focused…

• Take out a sheet of paper
• Write down three 30 day goals
• Write down three 3 month goals
• Write down three 12 month goals
• Write down a big, outrageous 3 to 5 year goal

Read these goals every day and tick them off as you do achieve them.  Finally, you must be:

7. Flexible

Bruce Lee talks about flowing like water.  You must be the same. No matter how well you plan, things will always need to be tweaked and altered along the way. That goes for strength training and everything you do in life.
Do not be stubborn, be flexible.  If something’s not working, be man enough to change it.

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