I see these three mistakes so often that I'm sure the majority of readers can learn from this post. This is not meant to be an in-depth, scientifically-based article (although I am sure there is plenty of research that supports all of my points).
All three of these tips come from "under the bar" experience. Those with it will know these are true and those still learning can ask an experienced lifter and they will tell them the same.
YES, these are SIMPLE. But look around and you will see how often they are not followed.
Stop thinking about your training session ALL DAMN day!
You are exhausting yourself. I understand looking forward to hitting the gym and wanting to get ready for Max Effort work, a new PR, or whatever else your training goal is for the day. I know people (and used to be one) that would spend the entire day looking forward to getting to the gym. When in school, my notebook was full of pictures I drew of barbells, guys squatting, and pulling.
Just let this shit go!
If you need to get jacked up for the gym, do it on the way there. I have learned, as have most lifters who have been around for a long time, that it is better to get your mind jacked up right before the actual lift and at no other time. I was once told if I had to get my head right for longer than right before the lift, then I lacked confidence and really didn't think I could do it in the first place.
This one hit me like a ton of bricks because when I looked deep, it was true. This isn't about how to build confidence in your lifting. This is about using your arousal only when you really need it. If you do this, your strength in the gym will go up since you will not be shot from thinking about it all day long.
Grab the damn bar and squeeze the shit out of it.
I'm talking red knuckles tight. Tightness is a lifter's best friend. The tighter you grab the bar, the tighter everything else will get.
1. The hand bone is connected to the arm bone, the arm bone is connected to the back bone.... Seriously. The tighter your grip, the more inclined you will be to tighten up your back, torso, and everything else.
2. The other thing a tight grip does is trigger your brain to get your body tight.
This is not that hard to fix - it just takes a focused effort and making it a priority when you set up. The best way I have found to do this is to start with the hands - just grip hard.
Make sure you are grounded.
This is another aspect of getting tight- but it starts at your feet. I don't give a shit if you are squatting or doing hammer curls - make sure your feet are grounded and locked into the floor. I really don't care if you have to think of screwing your feet into the floor, pushing the floor apart, or grasping the floor with your toes...
Whatever works for you. Just lock your feet down and tighten up.
If you are tight from hands to feet I will guarantee the rest of your body will tighten up and your strength will go up right NOW.
Next time you are in the gym, look around at how many people do not grab the bar tight or lock their feet into the ground. After you are shocked by this - realize the odds are very high that you may be making the same mistakes.