Mindfulness For Lifting Heavy On the Platform
If you ask any elite athlete to talk about the key elements for successful lifting or competing, 9/10 times they will talk about having a strong mental edge. If you approach the barbell with doubt in your mind or second guess your ability to complete a lift- chances are you just decided you aren’t going to make it.
What distinguishes high level athletes, and people that compete successfully is their ability to perform under stress, in environments where they cannot control every variable, and their ability to keep the focus when distractions are high. Competition days are only a one day snapshot out of your lifting career, but being able to stay focused is what gives us the potential to make them the highlights.
We talk about mindfulness often, usually in regards to stress management, but the same principles can be applied when leading up to a big lift or competing. The same pattern of recognizing when the mind is drifting and bringing focus back to the breath is how you stay in the zone while lifting. The ability to regain focus to your breath or a positive visualization of completing the lift is how you tune out the distractions and doubts.
Creating habits and rituals in the gym, no matter how much weight is on the bar also builds confidence when you are going for a PR or a challenging lift. If you have a strict set of cues that your body follows, rather than focusing on how heavy the lift is, you focus on your checklist. This is going to be different for everyone, so take the time to recognize yours.
Grab the bar, pressing the heel of my hand into it
Set up under the bar
Breathe out, breathe in, brace.
Tighten upper back, unrack the bar
Right foot, left foot
Breathe out, breathe in- descend.
At no point does this change from the warm up to the top set. Focusing on the breath, focusing on the patterns you can control turns your attention to the variables you can control, and the variables you have mastered over time.
If you haven’t developed any sort of mindfulness or meditation practice, you can start with a guided app like Headspace, or simply begin by sitting quietly for 10-15 minutes and tuning in to your breathing. Like lifting, it’s a skill that takes time to refine- so stick with it. Your performance will thank you.
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