The gym can be more than just a place people go to get big and strong, the gym is as good of place as any to train the mind to achieve greatness. I once heard a quote “lead with the mind, and the body will follow”… I will be honest I don’t know who said it but none the less the statement stands true. As athletes we must learn to control the mind to be successful.
How many times have you been on a team or watching a sport as a fan and seen that one crazy guy on the sidelines hitting his head, yelling, jumping, and basically hyperventilating, getting pumped up for the game? What we must understand is that there is a right and wrong time to turn on this high intensity and a right and wrong time to turn it off. When we are in this high intensity state like the person I described we are exerting a lot of energy, this is wasted energy and often causes the person to burn out before that energy is really needed. We need to know how and when to turn it on, and just as quickly turn it off. Taking a look at Football, the game is made up of lots of extremely high intensity, short bursts. During the play the athlete needs to be in this high intensity state of mind, but as soon as the play ends he needs to turn it off and conserve his energy for the next play.
How do we train this in the gym?
It is fairly simple. First you need to determine your work space. I will use a squat rack as an example. That squat rack is your work space, or your office. When you’re in your office there is only one thing on your mind, and that is work. When you are done your work, you don’t waste any time in leaving your office. In other words, when we are in the squat rack we are there for one thing, to squat. Nothing else exists during that time you are in the rack. Once you are done your set you get out of the rack and don’t return until you are ready to squat again. WE NEVER REST IN OUR WORK SPACE. During your rest period it is extremely important to calm yourself down and turn off that high intensity state of mind. You can practice visualization by visualizing yourself successfully completing the next set but don’t allow yourself to get amped up. This is called classical conditioning, we are training the mind to turn itself on when we need to work, and we are also training the mind to turn itself off when we need to recover. By practicing this technique over time you will have trained your mind to control when to be high and when to be low without even thinking about it.
Justin Andrushko, SSC-ISSA