Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Written By : Scott Bird
Filed In : Articles

FocusLose not yourself in a far off time, seize the moment that is thine.
Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

This is the second part of this month’s series on the mind; a collaboration with Run to Win‘s Blaine Moore.

focus [n] : a centre of interest or activity.

David Hinchliffe
recently wrote a great piece on the subject of focus (as it applies to athletes) over at Harrow Drive. He gave a couple of examples that clearly demonstrate just how effective focus can be in our everyday lives :

Look around the room you are in now for anything that is the colour bright red. I guarantee you will be able to pick out even the tiniest speck now you are looking for it, even if there is hardly any red at all.


Maybe you have bought a brand new car sometime in your life. How many of those cars do you suddenly see on the road once you start driving around?

Wouldn’t it be great to have this level of attention whilst lifting weights? Running a marathon? Playing football in the park?
Achieving focus, essentially just a form of heightened awareness, requires 3 things :

  • goals to have been set
  • visualisation
  • freedom from distractions

Once these three are in place you will find it much simpler to focus on the task at hand. In many cases it will be automatic.

Goal setting
The concepts of goal setting seem to be often misunderstood, or simply ignored. Essentially, select something which is slightly out of your current reach, and aim to reach it via regular improvement. This may be a particular weight for a given lift, a time for running a certain distance or a pulserate following a chosen activity. Whatever it is, stretch yourself toward it.

Once you’re almost there, set a new goal; a little further away. Stretch toward that one, and repeat the process.

If you’re not quite sure what your goal should be, pick something. Work toward it, and you’ll soon discover whether it feels right to you or not. If it does, keep going. If not, pick something else. Rinse and repeat.

NB : for a slightly more in-depth look at motivation and goal-setting – particularly for fitness goals – take a look at Dan John‘s 2004 piece on T-Nation,
Goal setting for hard asses. A great read.

Visualisation and freedom from distractions
Both of these subjects will be covered in more detail later in this series, but briefly :
Visualisation : imagine yourself achieving your goal, and reaching it becomes a little easier.

Freedom from distractions : this doesn’t just mean throwing out the people who talk constantly whilst in the gym (although that would probably help), it’s a matter of constructing a mental ‘cone of silence‘.
Now the fun begins.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via Twitter, Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.