“To be a successful Olympic weightlifter my firm belief is that 50% is from the mind, 30% from sound technique and only 20% from power development.”
– Tommy Kono, 6x world champion weightlifter and 2x Olympic gold medalist
Same thing happened in this study, where athletes were told they received strength boosting amino acids pre workout. The result? Their lifts went up by 20%, despite chewing on simple milk-sugar tablets!
That’s right, you can boost your performance by up to 20% by just thinking you’re on something. By just expecting to have an advantage. This is also the sole reason to ever consider workout/ bodybuilding supplements. If you truly believe in them, they will do what they’re supposed to do. It’s not the particular product, the “clinical dose” of ingredients, or the scientific formulation.
This is the mind at work. Do you realize how powerful this innate mechanism is? How powerful you are, once you accept this universal truth and let it work for you.
Wolf or sheep?
I’ve seen many lifters come and go. Trained with a fair share of athletes. I’ve witnessed obsessive determination, courage and unapologetic drive. On the flip side, I’ve watched a good amount of “normal” individuals. The guys doing “alibi work” and obtaining lackluster results after months and years of training.
I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the exceptional.
What sets these people apart? What makes a champion? Why do some find the motivation to train and to take themselves through the grinder session after session, while others fail to make it to the gym, let alone put down the remote? We’re all only human, right?
Some people will never accept average. They’ll never “fit in”. They’ll never be like everyone else, because they chose to take the road less traveled. They chose hardship, discomfort and pain over normal.
When those select few individuals combine their relentless drive with unshakable faith they become unstoppable.
Discipline the mind
How do you make your mind work for you?
Control your habitual thought process. Do not allow negative emotions, images or ideas to take hold. Block out all negativity and set your sights on the task at hand.
Discipline the mind. Put it through the grinder by giving it complex tasks that require deep thinking. Make it work. As a result, you won’t have the mental energy to dwell on problems, fears and the reasons why you can’t be who you want to be.
The three pillars of mind control:
- Ideas: Problem solving machine
- Creative imagination: Every scenario, every solution
- Self-image and visualization
Your mind is the most comprehensive problem solving machine in existence. If you’re facing a challenging task (building muscle, paying for your kids school supplies,… anything), sit down, grab a pen and paper and make a list of potential solutions. Come up with 5, 10, 15 ways to conquer those tasks. Put some serious thought into it. Write it down. Dwell on it. Internalize it.
Train your creative imagination. Visualize key moments, interactions or upcoming events. See yourself in different situations, interacting with different people, and performing at your best. Go through the motions. Control that image. Control the outcome. You are the person you imagine yourself to be.
(Focus! Stay with me! Re-read this a 100 times if you have to)
The image you have of yourself determines who you are. How you see yourself, impacts your actions, decisions and your impressions on others. The good news is you have complete power over your self-image. What are you going to do with it?
The above techniques teach your mind, your “inner voice” to obey. To do what it’s supposed to do. When uncertainty, fear or negative thought patterns creep up, stop them dead in their tracks. Crush negativity by consciously putting your mind to work. Make this a daily habit. Some people refer to this as meditation or priming. I call it mental ass-kicking.
You’ll be shocked at how effective these strategies are in controlling your emotions and allocating resources. Use your mental equity wisely. There’s no time and energy to be wasted on negativity, fear or doubt.
Stimulation= maximum performance
Have you ever noticed how you can lift more weight or perform more repetitions when your favorite song comes up on your playlist? Same happens when that cute girl walks by while you try and lift that heavy ass load off the floor. All of a sudden the weight feels light and you crank out rep after rep (while checking out her ass in the mirror).
You can also artificially fire up your neurons by ingesting psychoactive stimulants like caffeine. (your performance will thank you)
Where does that “hidden” strength come from?
Music stimulates the mind in profound ways, allowing you to access additional, previously unsuspected resources. Music is only one way of stimulating the mind, however. Sexual stimulation has an even greater effect on your performance (the cute girl, remember?). Stimulants (i.e. coffee) and narcotics can also be used to amplify your work output, although, for obvious reasons, the latter isn’t recommended.
When the mind is stimulated, its capacity is limitless.
Harness that power. Consciously use mental triggers to reach a higher state of mental and physical performance. What drives you? What are you in this for? Think about it before you enter a heavy set. Think about it when you sit down to eat. Think about it before that crucial business meeting. Think about it in times of confusion, fear and desperation. Use it to fuel the fires of growth and success.
You have no faith
Let me guess. You read the above thinking I’m high on some illegal street drug. Obviously, what I’m saying doesn’t make any logical sense…right? I mean, why doesn’t anybody else talk about this? (they do by the way, oh and read this)
You’re trying to connect the dots, trying to make sense of what I’m saying, but you come to no sane conclusion. Doesn’t agree with your understanding of the world or your logic, and I’ll tell you why.
Because you have no faith.
Do you believe in yourself? Are you confident in your ability to deliver? Are there doubts and insecurities clouding your thoughts? What’s holding you back?
When will you learn to trust yourself and just let go? When will you learn to silence that inner voice? When will you learn to ignore the doubters? When will you begin to believe?
But you’re scared. You let others define what is possible. You let them do the thinking and reasoning for you. You give them absolute power over you. The result is paralyzing fear.
Remember the mind stimulants/ triggers we talked about? Fear has the exact opposite effect. It robs you of your energy and dumbs you down. Fear brings out the lowest, weakest version of yourself.
But fear has no power in the light of faith. Crush fear! Take its head clean off!
Use the mind as it is intended. Train it and let it do its job. Let go and trust yourself fully. Believe in yourself with every cell of your body.
Body and Mind
The mind and the body are inseparable. Focusing on a positive outlook, a benevolent mindset or specific mental techniques is useless when your body is broken and your physical stress manifests itself in fatigue, bad mood and depression.
As powerful as it is, the mind alone is not enough. It cannot do its job properly in a state of physical degeneration. It’s time for you to adopt a new lifestyle and carry yourself like a champion.
Chin up, chest out. Now go. You got shit to do.
Thank you for reading
Behncke, L. (2006). Mental Skills Training For Sports: A Brief Review. Volume 6, Issue 1
Kono, T. (2010). Championship Weightlifting: Beyond Muscle Power- The Mental Side of Lifting. HKC
Davis, J.K./ Green, J.M. (2009). Caffeine and anaerobic performance: ergogenic value and mechanisms of action. Sports Med. 39(10):813-32.
Kalasountas, V./ Reed, J./ Fitzpatrick, J. (2007). The Effect of Placebo-Induced Changes in Expectancies on Maximal Force Production in College Students. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.
Pollo, A./ Carlino, E./ Benedetti, F. (2008), The top-down influence of ergogenic placebos on muscle work and fatigue. European Journal of Neuroscience, 28: 379–388.
Trojian, T.H./ Beedie, C.J. (2008). Placebo Effect and Athletes. Current Sports Medicine Reports: Volume 7 – Issue 4 – pp 214-217