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How To Be Confident With Heavy Weights


When testing 1rm and coach or friends say “add more” something inside me tells me “ok i try” or “i hope i can do this”. I would like to be more confident and just think “fuck it i will do it”… i know this might sound stupid but as a beginner i still need to build that mindset. I am not afraid of hurting myself because i have spotters but not trusting myself for something i am might be capable of is something i want to get rid of.
I would like to know from experienced lifters how they approach maxing out or attempting weights they never lifted with more self confidence. Do you have rituals or something like that?
Thanks in advance


Part of powerlifting is learning how to get under a ridiculous weight when every fiber in your being says “no don’t do it.” Sometimes the fear of getting crushed can be a great motivator in hitting that squat PR. That being said, don’t be a moron and add 50 lbs to the bar when you barely finished that last rep. Be smart and push your limits.

Also, check what you got between your legs and stop being a pussy. Hows that?


I have this idea that it takes a while to learn what heavy actually means. I don’t mean it terms of a certain amount of weight, but the feeling. It took me maybe two years to learn it.

So, in answer to your question, you don’t know what heavy feels like yet - or you probably don’t - and you aren’t going to learn the mindset you’re referring to until you know what heavy means. If you get under a heavy weight just hoping you’ll get it or thinking about trying I can guarantee you won’t make the lift. Likewise, if you aren’t afraid of getting hurt, you aren’t even close to maxing out. Spotters don’t mean too much when you’re maxing, because they won’t always catch it in time.

There isn’t really a ritual, it’s just knowing what you’re in for and getting ready for it. Some people get really angry, I try to go very, very still and calm. Either way is getting you ready to not get crushed. You only learn that over time.

TL;DR don’t think and don’t hope. If think you might miss, don’t take the lift. Don’t hope because hope means you think you might not make it. Until you’ve hit a few lifts where you stopped being conscious of anything apart from the weight, you don’t know what heavy means or what a max really is.


You have to know your body. Some lifters are good grinders while others are really fast. For both, the weight is heavy. Just because it moves fast doesn’t mean it wasn’t heavy.

My advice is always to take baby steps when nearing a max and learning to be patient and realistic. If it’s there that day, you’ll feel it or know it. If attempting a 1RM, just go 5lbs more than your PR if its there. No need to be greedy. That way there’s always room to improve and you didn’t blow your load for the next few months by getting a 20lb PR.

Remember, this is strength building, not strength testing. Save the big ones for competition.


Just takes time. As a beginer you wont realize how hard you actually can push. The mental strain I went threw on a max as a beginer is not even close to how hard I try on max efforts now. Going to take some time but youll get used to it. I pulled 655 in training and did a comp two weeks later with thin plates so it was harder. I knew I had the strength to pull 660 at the comp but it was going to take everything I had. I just told myself to pull as hard as I could. It went up! Though got redlighted for downward travel at lock out.


I don’t max out very often. When I set my last PR for dead lift, I felt like my spine was going to crumble. But for day to day training, my heavy work sets are doubles and triples. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and know I don’t bounce back from injuries like I used to, but I pay close attention to minor muscles threatening to rip on me, too.

My point is, you want to hit a sweet spot between doing better than your last workout but conserving yourself for your next workout. From time to time, you will naturally feel ready to go all out and try setting a new personal record. The confidence will come with practice.


It sounds to me like there might be some issues with your programming if you are supposed to be testing your 1rm and you aren’t ready. What does your peaking phase look like? If you have been training with light weights and suddenly you are expected to set a new max then of course you won’t be prepared. Personally, I spend at least a few weeks before a meet or test day working up to a heavy single (about 90-95%, can start lighter) on the comp. lifts before regular work sets. That way my opener feels like just another training day - minus the fatigue if you peak right - and the next two attempts aren’t that much heavier and the only real difference is that I will have to strain more, which I will be used to from my work sets in training. If I didn’t touch anything over 80% and then attempted a new max I wouldn’t feel confident either. You don’t need to use singles at all, that’s just one method, look at old school linear periodization for another example. The point is that either way you will have lifted something at least close to your opener in training so that you are mentally and physically prepared to set a new PR.

If you just get nervous with heavy weights then that’s a different story, you need to focus on lifting the weight and following the commands, get all other thoughts out of your head. If you unrack the bar and start thinking “shit, this is heavy!” or thinking about how much weight is on the bar then your mind is not in the right place.


That’s what I realized. The weights don’t get lighter, you just learn to push harder.


Heavy metal helps. But when the weight is a real challenge I always think of my father. He died two years ago and was the toughest s.o.b on the planet. He always attacked things without a second thought and if he was ever unsure you wouldn’t know it. Before a big lift I imagine how he’d approach it and what he would be telling me if he were still here.


Concentrating on specifics of the lift/technical cues can help you focus, repeat them over and over in your head as setting up "head up, quick hips, push the ground away"etc.

You also need to learn how to mentally fire yourself up and what point is too much. Playing around with supps, preworkout, double esppresso and the like can also help


It’s normal to feel scared of heavy weights, especially the ones that you haven’t done before.

Personally, I max out every week, so I’m used to approaching heavy weights. And on top of that, I lift close to my one-rep max the rest of the week. Maxing out or lifting close to my max feels normal to me, since I do it with extreme frequency. I think such a method will help, as long as you maintain strict form.

I’ve added 40 pounds to my squat in 4 weeks, going from 335 to 375 with my method of training.

If you have more questions about what I do, I’ll gladly explain things to you.

Best of luck.


Thanks a lot guys. You have been all very helpful.
I started a few weeks ago a max out every week approach so i am new to being under heavy weights that often. I work up to a heavy single and then do some drop sets until i am tired (for example 5-6x3 with 70-80% of the day)
I squat on tuesday, bench on thursday and Deadlift on saturday.


First, I calculate a reasonable weight for training. Then, from a day to a couple of days out, I just start imagining lifting that weight and executing everything perfectly down to the finest details and the weight just popping right up. Than I imagine this many many many times over the day(s).

So when I walk up to the bar, I’ve already done this weight a thousand times so it’s no longer a big thing to me.

Sometimes, I’ll also just count the number of plate to put on the bar and not even calculate or think about the number. Let’s say 405 is the number your looking for squat.

Well, don’t load up 4 wheels per side. Try 3 wheels per side plus the change it takes to work up to that number. It doesn’t seem as big a deal and I find I’m less likely to psych myself out.

Yet another technique is the future method. You can use reverse bands or chains or shortened ROM to put the weight you want to hit. Do that and you’ve at least felt how heavy it is and know what to expect so it doesn’t intimidate you when you walk up to that weight to lift it for the first time through the whole ROM.


All great points , I like holds for squats. Overload with a heavy weight, just unrack get ready to squat, get your air, then rerack. It gives the feeling of a heavy weight on your back. For BP ,I like rack lockouts. Reverse band DL gives the feeling of a heavy lockout