By Mike Gillette
You’ve experienced this before, whether you realized it at the time or not. It starts when a certain song comes on the radio. Then, the next thing you know, you’re in a better mood than you were just a moment earlier.
Or, it starts when a certain song comes on the radio. And then, the next thing you know, you’re in a much worse mood than you were just a moment earlier.
How can this be? Well, it goes much further than the idea that some songs are either inherently good or inescapably bad. It has to do with a psychological term known as an “anchor”.
An anchor is any stimulus that can trigger a particular psychological state. And a song on the radio is just one example of a psychological anchor. Anchors occur throughout all of our sensory channels (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory [taste] and olfactory [smell]) in an almost infinite number of ways.
If you ever took a psychology class, you probably remember reading about Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiment with dogs. Using food and a metronome, Pavlov trained a group of dogs to salivate whenever the metronome was triggered.
For those dogs, the anchor was the association between hearing the sound and the food that they’d been conditioned to expect after hearing the metronome. Psychologists describe their salivation as being the result of a conditioned response.
So, an anchor is a stimuli, which brings forth thoughts, emotions or a combination of both. We actually create anchors throughout our lives.
And many of them are created without any conscious thought or intention on our part. Think about the feelings you get when you smell a certain type of food or perfume.
Or the associations you have with a particular time of the year or location such as a house. These are the kinds of anchors that develop and are reinforced over time. And this is an important point because anchors ultimately exert a significant influence on our lives based upon the decisions that they lead us to make.
So, if the ‘Psychology of Strength’ is about the intentional control of the mind, how can we use the phenomenon of anchoring to our advantage? Very simply, by intentionally creating new anchors.
So here are some simple, effective steps for anchoring positive associations to your training regimen. These steps are so simple that most people will read through the list and that will be the end of it. But remember, mental exercises are just like physical exercises. It doesn’t matter if you know them, it only matters if you do them.
1. Create a mission statement for your training.
It could be related to improving performance in a given sport, improving your appearance or, if you’re like me, you just want to be stronger.
So I might write out something along the lines of, “Every day I train I’m getting stronger and stronger.”
The key here is to make your mission statement specific to your goal(s) and build it into a concise, positively-phrased statement that you can both write down and repeat to yourself. For example, before each set, repeat your mission statement in your head or even out loud.
2. Make a list of songs you love that also put you into a powerful mood.
Then create a master MP3 “power playlist”. Whenever you train, play that music and let the powerful, positive associations take you to new levels of accomplishment.
3. Spend five to ten minutes before you train by reliving a strong, positive memory.
A memory of an experience when you were performing at your best. Recall every detail of that memory. The time of year, the time of day, who else was present, how you felt before, during and afterwards.
Make it as real as you possibly can. Practice this with different positive memories, as many as you can recall. With practice, you will get better and better at putting yourself into your own peak-performance state. The results may surprise you.
Howdy partners. I did this sweet interview with former swat commander and executive bodyguard Mike Gillette who is the creator of an extremely kick-ass program called the Savage Strength Training System. Are you prepared to be entercated? That’s right you get entertained and educated at the same time…..boom! I said it. Enjoy.
Me: In your experience are strength and size of a muscle correlated?
MG: Research suggests that a larger cross-section of muscle tissue will yield greater contractile potential than a smaller cross-section of muscle tissue. But if this was all there was to the strength equation, then bodybuilders would also dominate the realm of strength sports. But they don’t. The chief strength variable that almost everyone overlooks is the Central Nervous System. Often-times a smaller but more neurologically-efficient athlete can outlift a larger one.
Me: Why do you feel it’s more important to train for strength than it is for looks?
MG: Because I need a body that PERFORMS. After having had so many big, impressively-muscled guys come up to me and say “What you do is amazing…” , it becomes apparent that deep down, what everyone really respects is CAPABILITY. Meaning what you can DO rather than just how you LOOK. I am 49 years old and I am still out on the road. And whether it’s for bodyguard work or a presentation of mind-body feats, my body has to be able to do WHAT I want it to WHEN I want it to.
Me: What would you say to someone that is intimidated by the Savage Strength program and claims to be too old, or has a bad back or just isn’t ready for something like this yet?
MG: I would say “Just try it out…” While it’s true that there are some very tough exercises taught in the program, I specifically included some easier ones too. And that’s because (as long as you pay attention to the detailed instruction) this program can be for ANYBODY. You just have to work within your present level of capabilities. You have to be smart about it. The program is self-calibrating. No matter how strong you are, you can adjust the intensity level by manipulating various training parameters which are explained in detail in the program manual.
Me: What are the advantages of becoming stronger and more functional?
MG: Simple… in a physical context you can do what you want You learn how to become the master of your body and not the other way around. Get strong and gain the strength to live the life you want… the life you’ve always wanted.
Me: Briefly differentiate between muscular endurance vs. muscular strength.
MG: Endurance refers to output capacity sustained over a period of time. The longer the time-frame, the lower the intensity level. Strength refers to MAXIMUM output capacity. In my world, endurance is a quality I associate with “wellness” or “health”, strength is a quality I associate with “taking action” or “saving lives”. Strength give you on-demand usefulness to the world around you.
Me: Mike, as former SWAT Commander was there ever a time that your strength training proved to be an asset?
MG: Too many to possibly count. For every meth-lab door kicked, every street thug I ever fought with, every suicidal person I wrestled a weapon away from and for every frightened child who took my hand and needed to know that everything was going to be okay… each one of those people needed to feel all my strength… for different reasons. And for all of them, it was my DUTY to become as strong as I could be.
Me: On page 28 of the Savage Strength manifesto you said that when you were in your early 40s, your body felt like it was training all the time, even when you weren’t. What did you mean by that?
MG: Primarily it was the time I had left law enforcement and I was working in the private sector running some very large training projects. Lots of deadlines and lots of travel. My training had unfortunately become routine. So routine in fact, I was sometimes losing track as to whether or not I was even doing it. I had lost some of the imperative to train, I had lost that edge. This was also around the time that certain overuse-related injuries had started to crop up.
Me: Do mentally tough people get stronger than those who aren’t?
MG: They absolutely do. Strength training is hard work. And strength training performed at the ragged edge of your own capabilities is even harder. It is the ability to develop mental toughness that separates the STRONG from the merely “fit”. You have to be able to break barriers to achieve something meaningful. And if you aggressively seek opportunities to REALLY break through to whatever your own “next level” is, you will likely get a glimpse of your best self.
Me: Tell us something most people don’t know about Mike Gillette.
MG: Between the scary resume, the bending and the breaking and the mind-power feats I do, some people have a hard time approaching me. It’s interesting that kids have no problem coming up and asking me for pictures or an autograph or just to talk. But a lot of adults seem uncomfortable making that same overture. So, while I understand that a lot of what I do strikes most people as “unusual”, it’s not unusual to me. This is simply who I am and what I do. And it is vitally important to me to share what I do and the things I have been so fortunate to learn… all these unconventional techniques, methods and teachings with others.
Me: In closing, why does the world need more strong men?
MG: Strong men, by their very presence, make their little corner of the world “better”. What I mean by that is they make things safer, more stable, more sensible, more… BETTER. Discipline of BODY, Discipline of MIND, Self-Control… the world is always a better place when more men possess these qualities.
Me: Thanks for your time.
MG: My pleasure. Check out the article below to get 4-keys to savage strength.