By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
“Man I’ve been doing really heavy bench presses lately… like 300 pounds. I walked into the gym on Monday and did it, no sweat. Then on Friday, my next bench day, lo and behold I didn’t get the 300 pounds that I easily got on Monday. I guess I was still tired from my last bench routine??
Then I came back in the gym again on Monday and I blew away my benches again. I pretty much have been gearing my whole workout towards that 300-pound bench press.
If I hit the 300-pound bench, my workout seems to go much better compared to those days when I miss it. It even affects my attitude when I leave the gym.
My attitude pretty much “SUCKS!” when I miss. Do you have any suggestions?”
Your muscle doesn’t have a brain. Your head controls the muscle. The muscle doesn’t control the brain.
So you’ve got to say, ‘O.K., I’m going to work my bench and my poundage is going to go up.’
You MUST change your mental attitude about your training. You can’t take anything negative that you are doing in the sport of bodybuilding, weightlifting or anything else and turn it into positive results, it just won’t work.
Everything you do in the gym (and on the field) has to be done on a positive note. You must condition your subconscious mind to think that you are getting stronger and training with more intensity and your body will have to respond accordingly.
Here is something you might try next time you go to the gym. I call it Mental Imagery-Rehearsal.
Mental imagery-rehearsal is conducted approximately 10-15 seconds prior to each set of an exercise. While standing or sitting, however you feel most comfortable, close your eyes and take in and exhale short breaths of air as you mentally prepare (with selective focus) for the moment at hand.
You must go to that place in your consciousness where there is no pain, no negative influences, no fear, a state of mind where only positive forces dwell.
Your mind must be time-locked (cohesive) with the muscles in order to do battle with the heavy iron.
Begin by picturing in your mind’s eye the bench, the bar, the plates. Imagine this so intensely that you can smell the sweat, feel the knurling on the bar, hear the plates rattle, and so forth.
Since you are going to be performing the flat bench press, for example, recreate all of the exercise mastery techniques that are necessary for the successful completion of each gut-wrenching rep of the set.
The more organized and detailed you can make this ritual of mentally focusing in one-set intervals, the better chance you will have for training to the outer limits of muscular size and strength.
Here’s another way to explain it. Think of how organized and detailed the ritual of mental imagery-rehearsal would be if it related to making love to a beautiful woman. The details are never slippery or vague. They’re always clear and vivid.
As the magnitude of mental imagery-rehearsal for the upcoming set becomes more and more vivid, you will begin to feel torrents of unleashed fury and your heart will beat in a manner that reflects your ability to dominate and prevail in the moment.
Open your eyes. You are now 100% mentally focused and psyched. Go for it! It’s time to lift the HEAVY IRON!
Tip: During your workout, play your own favorite high-energy music to trigger strong energy responses. Who cares if it’s the same song that triggers your best effort. Use it until you find others to add to the mix.