Your name is called. It is your third attempt. An attempt that will give you the total you need to win. Are you confident in your skills? Do you have your routines in place for anxiety management? I am not talking about a slap on the back to distract you from the task at hand. I am talking about the mental strength. You have done the physical work to prepare, but you need to take the mental reps to solidify your success.
Through his work, A.S. Prilepin determined the optimal number of reps at or above 90% to be about four. But what if I told you that you could take infinitely more than that? The body is limited but the mind is unbelievably more powerful. Positive mental imagery (visualization) can help you take successful rep after successful rep with a weight you have never even touched.
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You are now able to practice future max attempts in any venue. Anyone wanting to improve their workouts or competition should be practicing. There is no wear and tear on the body. It takes minimal time to run through two or three reps per day. And most importantly, you can always (don't visualize missing attempts) be successful. I have used the techniques below before meets and even between attempts. I like to see, feel, and reinforce my own technique, visualizing it as if it already has happened. I am now watching a mental video. This reduces my anxiety and boosts my confidence.
I have been collecting parts of this exercise for the last 25 years, keeping what has worked for me and cutting away the excess. A few of my clients have used these as well to get ready for their meets. It won't be easy to stay focused every time, but you must practice. Any mental edge you can give yourself is still an edge.
Until you are fully comfortable doing this, I recommend you practice in a very dark room with as little noise and light as possible. It will help keep out the distractions and increase your focus. After practicing and fine-tuning your skills, practicing anywhere will be possible. Once the skill is mastered you should be able to turn it on and off very easily.
If you find any section isn't connecting after a few minutes, move on to the next. You are learning to develop your own process so you will need a few run-throughs before it may flow naturally. I used a guided video in high school to build my connection.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. The room should be dark and quiet. For the next two minutes, clear your head by focusing on diaphragmatic breathing. Breath in through the nose for a six count while filling the belly. Hold for a two and exhale through the nose for six. Only focus on the breathing. You can choose to breathe longer if needed.
Connecting the Mind and Body
Start at your toes and feel them tingle. You don't want a pins-and-needles, asleep tingle, but an awake, pre-workout kind of tingle. They are awake, activated, and ready to go. After your toes are tingling, the feeling moves to your whole foot. It should start to tingle up to your knee, then your whole leg. If it doesn't happen immediately, stay in that area.
The lower half of your body is now awake. Now it is working up your back and chest. Feel it move down your arms to your fingers. Everything below your head is tingling. It moves up the back of your head, to your scalp, your ears, and now your face. Your whole body is aware and tingling. Your body is now primed and ready.
There are two views you can use during this part of the exercise. I like to use both the first and third person views. Most of my reps are viewed in the first person. Though it is important to view from outside your own body, I will only walk you through the first person view.
We are trying to plant the seeds that this has already happened and we have practiced it a thousand times. It does not replace the physical training you need, but will complement it at the most important times.
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(You can use any self-talk, lift, or sequence you like. Add as many details as you can to your own visualization.)
With your eyes closed, I want you to envision meet day. See yourself. See what shirt you are wearing. See the singlet or squat suit. You are aware of the air temperature and humidity. Hear the crowd in the background. Feel yourself being excited and confident. Hear the announcer as he calls your name. You are on deck to squat.
You stand from your chair and approach the chalk bowl. See yourself at the chalk bowl. Smell and feel the chalk as you rub it on your hands. (Keep breathing deeply.) Feel your handler rub chalk on your back. Feel the squeeze of the knee wraps.
“________ is the lifter" is blasted over the speaker.
The bar is loaded. You approach the platform. You grab the bar. Feel the knurling in your hands as you get set. Your feet are set and you duck under the bar. You squeeze your back tight, take a deep breath, and flex your abs against your belt.
You stand up strong. You feel the weight on your back. It feels light. Your lats and abs are rock solid. The head judge yells "squat." You push your hips back. Your knees are pushed out to the side as you descend. Everything is solid. You hit depth. "Up" is yelled from your handler. Driving your head first, you blast it out of the hole. You reach lockout and hold the weight. “Rack” comes at you from the head judge and you are helped into the hooks. You rack the bar and climb out. You turn and watch the white lights shine.
Repeat this one or two more times. Use both the first and third person views.
This kind of imagery can be used for any attempt or lift. I use it for personal record attempts and setting myself up to be successful. When I find myself getting anxious or getting a boost of adrenaline thinking about the meet, I know I need to spend some time going through this process.
Reps in the gym are not enough. Learn to put yourself in a positive place. You will learn to keep your composure and make adjustments without panic after a missed lift. Mental practice and strength will help you recover from those misses. Fine-tune your process and it will help you become even more successful.