What’s going on in your head when you train? Not much?
Don’t be so quick to assume that even though there isn’t a conscious thought, or at least one that you can recall, that this means you aren’t thinking about something.
And I love all the studies that show how mindset effects outcome, specifically when it comes to performance.
But what’s going on when we talk about mindset and sports performance? Is there anything real or measurable going on here what can be attributed to enhanced sports performance?
Well when you think about it what we’re trying to do ellicit a better response from the neuromuscular system. Not the muscular system. Not the skeletal system or cardiovascular system.
Sure all of these play a role but not independently. And therefore it makes sense that if we have more neurons firing we will have more muscle fibers contributing to the lift.
And conversely, with less neural input there will fewer muscle fibers innervated and thus lessor muscular work to be done.
So how does this work?
Well it can be as simple as the thoughts that go through your head before you step under the bar for a lift. Are you focussed or distracted? Are you seeing yourself complete a successful lift? Or are doubting yourself?
And here’s the thing…the shorter, more intense the effort you are shooting for the more focussed and dialed in you need to be about the task at hand.
Here’s what I mean about this.
Imagine a sprinter settling in the starting blocks for the finals of the 100 m. And imagine as well a marathoner stepping up to the line.
In a sprint the race could be over in about 10 seconds. The marathon will run at least 2 hours. If in the sprint you aren’t completely ready at the start it’s game over. In a longer race you still want to be on task with the job ahead but even if there’s a distraction that momentarily breaks your focus there is still time to get back on track.
For example if you were to stumble in the 100 m it’s game over. But there are instances in marathons where runners will get crossed up and one will fall. They could still get up, recover and be in the race.
Resistance training is similar to sprints. If you are going to attempt a PR in the gym you can’t go in with anything but complete focus.
One way complete focus has been described as imagining your workout as a movie. There are numerous camera angles and views.
You can see yourself lift from the front, the back and both sides. You can even see yourself from overhead. And with each of these views you see yourself complete a successful lift.
Your technique is flawless. Your tempo is ideal. There are no sticking points. You know what your breathing will be like. The vision you have is everything you are working towards.
Next all that needs to be done is to step up to the bar and reproduce the movie you’ve already scripted in your head.
And for a mantra? Well that’s going to be unique for everone. For me, I like ‘we’re here to win’. It’s basically acknowledging the fact that I’m willing to do what it takes to succeed and that I’m going to achieve success. I’m not here to go through the motions. I’m not satisfied with mediocrity. I want to know I gave my best effort and that this give me the best chance to win.
So what about you, what’s going on in your head? What’s your mantra?