Another week of training has gone; weights have been lifted, grunts have been made, toes have been squashed, but above all – gains have been achieved.
I hate to rub it in to anyone’s face who is on a summer shred right now, but being in a caloric surplus is brilliant. Everything goes up! Your weight, the weight you are lifting – it’s awesome!
However, one thing I noticed in my session yesterday was that there is a difference between lifting heavy, and actually lifting heavy heavy.
One a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being “Why are you even here?”, and 10 being pretty fucking beast – I’d give myself a five, maybe six. At 65.3kg (144lbs/ 10st 2oz), I would say I am fairly strong for my level of experience. Deadlifting 137.5kg for 5, squatting 105kg for 4, and benching 65kg for 6, I’d say that is not bad.
Yes, I PR every week, but what I found yesterday was that I can go further, and did go further, and I have a couple of tips for people who are maybe just getting in to lifting heavy weight.
After reading a number of weight/powerlifting articles online, one thing I see as being paramount is committing to the lift. In weightlifting, this is paramount. If you are going to try and do a 130kg snatch, you have got to be 100% behind the attempt.
Remember, a lot of your barriers will be mental. Look at the plates on either side of the bar and think: “They’re thin as anything! I am going to lift this”.
Leave any doubts you have behind before even considering stepping up to the bar. It is a piece of metal, it is not going to bite you. When you step up to that bar, you are going for it.
2) Get that weight off the floor…NOW!
What I have found is, yes, I was lifting heavy weight, but was I putting every ounce of effort I had into it? Maybe not.
It is easy to deadlift a big weight, doing it slowly…reaching the top…going back down…touch…and repeat. What will stimulate muscle fibres and leave you feeling broken at the end (which is a strange thing to be seeking) is blasting through the concentric phase of the movement.
At the bottom of your squat, once you have gone parallel or further, push through the floor like you are going to blast through the ceiling. You won’t, but it will really wake your legs and ass up, say: “Yo! Let’s beast this! Let’s get strong!”
3) Find the beast within
It’s different for a lot of people. Mental preparation, and getting “in the zone” is a technique that is often unique to everyone. You cannot push or pull a weight thinking of daisies. You have to be in a place where it is just you and that weight.
In my mental prep, I sometimes take time to breathe, roll the bar in my hands, and go for it. But the minute I go for it, it is time to work, and nothing is going to stop me.
Other times, especially when I’m squatting, I go to the back of the platform and bounce on my feet, staring furiously at the bar. It must look like a one man army about to charge into battle, but that’s what gets me psyched. This method of preparation gets me more pumped, angry and determined than the calm strategy.
Once my watch has told me rest time is up, I run at that bar, grab it and blast it.
However, you’re way of awaking the beast may totally differ to mine.
4) Don’t get bogged down in too much reading
I have read numerous times in articles by bodybuilders saying: “When I go to the gym, I know I am there to lift heavy”.
If you do not feel like this, that is cool. However, if it comes to the point where you are at the squat rack and still feel that way, then it’s time for some serious waking up.
I leave the changing room, with the Rocky IV Training Montage playing every day, and warm-up. For me, warming-up is essential both for physical performance, and getting ready to lift weight mentally.
I will at times go up to the rowing machine thinking, “Ugh! | cannot be bothered today”. I’ll be honest: I hate warming up, but that is good! If you get through the warm-up, you will be getting impatient and want to get in and lift!
I do a warm-up knowing that I will benefit from it when I am lifting, but during it I cannot wait till it is over.
I guess what I am saying is: do a warm-up. After it you will feel like working hard, and will see the results from doing so.
I hope these tips help anyone who is like me, and is either just starting out, or has under a year or so of lifting experience. Never underestimate what you can do.
Set a goal, make a plan, work hard, and see the results at the end!