These things are all important, but in my humble opinion, the most important aspect of any training program is something that cannot be quantified: the mind. I truly believe that the mental aspect of training trumps all else. You can control all the outside variables you want and have a perfect recipe for success on paper, but if your mind is not where it needs to be, you will be spinning your wheels.
This post is going to focus specifically on getting in the right mind frame to lift a weight. How often do you hear someone step up to the bar and say “I’m not sure if I can get this but we’ll see.” Or how about this one: “I’m going to shoot for somewhere between 8-12 reps on this set.” I hear it ALL the time, and I’m sure many of you have said it yourselves. While it may be normal, it sucks, and it pisses me off.
While a training program may prescribe a rep “range” on any given set, a lifter should go into the set with a clear goal in mind. Saying you will get 8-12 reps gives you an out anywhere after the 8th rep. Trust me, you don’t want to have an out because once the pain kicks in, you will take it. Instead, tell yourself you are going to get 12, and more importantly, believe it. Fight tooth and nail to get those 12 reps and don’t accept anything less of yourself. Set your sights too. You would be surprised how often you will hit your goal when you take this mindset.
I cannot stress how important it is to believe you can lift the weight in front of you. When someone asks me for a spot because “I am not sure if I can get this,” I tell them to come get me when they are sure. If you go into a lift thinking you won’t get it, you won’t. Of course, believing in yourself does not ensure you will succeed, but it gives you a fighting chance. I go into every single set completely confident that I can complete the task at hand, whatever that might be. Every single set. If I am unsure of myself, I step away and don’t come back until I convince myself that I can do it. This is not to say I don’t fail, because I do all the time, but I never expect to fail. When I do, I get pissed off and use it as motivation to do better the next time.
To break past strength barriers, you have to lift with confidence, authority, and swagger. This does not mean you have to go around the gym yelling and beating your chest. In fact, please don’t do that. But it does mean that when you step up to that weight, you better be fully convinced that you can do it. I you do this successfully, I promise you will progress at a far greater rate than you are now.