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Hyping Yourself Up - Pros/Cons


Since I dread tomorrow's workout (with the 165 squat for 50 in as few sets a possible), I thought we could discuss this:

How do you feel about getting amped up about a workout? Does it help you or is it counterproductive?

The longer I train, the more I understand that for me, getting the adrenaline flowing is a stupid move. It doesn't make me work harder than saying 'do work son' before going in, and on the contrary, if I start anticipating a workout or anything really too early, by the time I get to it the excitement has been replaced by anxiousness and fear (I'm mainly talking about leg work, conditioning and scheduled fights).

Jim Wendler called it 'not being a cheerleader'. So what about you?


This is a bit tricky for me. I have love getting my adrenaline going an getting psyched up before a session all my lifts are dramatically increased and my biggest PRs have been done this way.

I listen to some loud ass music all the way to the gym getting ready and when I get there I kinda start to settle down and bottle it up if that makes sense I don't want and cant go balls to wall on every movement of every session. But I pick a movement for the day and I unleash all hell on it.

This allows me to honestly push and kill and break a PR with out burning my CNS and all out. If I get all hyped up and kill it on every movement I will be completely burnt out in week tops and need a recovery week.


My old wrestling coach would smack us as hard as he could in the back, ass, or legs every opportunity he had during practice or before a match. A lot of people hated it, but it always got me pumped up. To this day, I still smack my thighs whenever I attempt a new pr. I don't know whether it actually releases adrenaline or is a placebo, but I do know it helps. I also save music for the drive to the gym. (I hate lifting without hearing everything around me.) On a similar note, does anyone regularly use ammonia inhalants? I'd like to try it once I'm able to pull or push enough weight that would warrant its use.


I haven't really figured it out.

So far, I've gotten best results by relaxing and getting my mind into a calm, meditative state, focused on the present here and now. Each rep is the ONLY rep there is, and you do it, and then the next rep is the same, and so on.

I know it sounds a bit hokey, but it's helped with the 20 rep squats. My biggest problem with it is I have to consciously make sure I keep up a decent pace. I tend to do my reps too slow and get worn down from the bar on my shoulders.

Hyping myself up for sets that take awhile, time-wise, doesn't seem to do any good.

The anticipation is killer though. Some of the sessions I've dreaded for awhile. I'll let it build up, and then get annoyed... and then actually just go do it.

(Also, 165 for 50 reps in as few as sets as possible... why?)


I guess I don't really think about getting hyped up before a workout. But, what I do try to do is get hyped up right before set starts.


It is one of the core elements of Dan John's Mass Made Simple (the ebook version, not the stuff you find on tnation). You take a weight and squat until you have 50 reps under your belt. If you need a quick break, you rest pause with the bar on your traps; if you're fried, you rack the weight and do another set whenever you feel ready. Ideally, you work up to 50 straight reps with a weight predetermined by your bodyweight (in my case = 185 on the back).

I've never done anything worse in the weight room... And I've never seen my legs grow faster. Right now, I can only go to the gym 2x/week due to other commitments. squatting to fifty is a very time-efficient way to get legs to grow.

However (as I implied), I must not think about it too much, otherwise I won't dare enter the gym.


bodyweight for a set of 50 sounds brutal. I'll try it next week, @185.

I like what Reed said. Obviously over-hyping for every lift, every set, every rep, every day doesn't work. You'll die. Maybe even super-die. But reserving that extra something for a particular lift makes sense, especially on what would be an 'all-out' set like this one.

For me, on a set this big, I would use that hype to get through the first 15-20. I really get my adrenaline going as much as possible, and unrack the bar aggressively, take my 2 steps and get started quickly. Get mad, bang them out without thinking, before the burn sets in. The hype will wear out, and the burn will start, but at least you've got a big chunk of the set out of the way. It's likely a grind after that point. For me, it turns into an inner dialogue of "I can't do this" versus "5 more... 1 more... ok now 10 more..."

Anyway, have fun :slight_smile:


Strictly speaking, it's not bodyweight. Dan John says something like "anyone between 160-185 - do 185. Anyone between 185-200 - do 200." etc.


Nailed it.


Everybody has a different optimal level of arousal, so experiment and find what works for you. I know a guy who lifts his heaviest and best when he's blissfully stoned. I'm on the other end of the spectrum. I like to be as absolutely psyched as possible, as long as I'm not so psyched that I lose proprioceptive sensitivity.

How psyched is optimal may also vary depending on the movement or reps. For example, I prefer getting really psyched before heavy squats, but relaxed (yet focused) for heavy OHP. I, personally, don't really like getting psyched before high rep stuff. I only do it on the heavy set(s) of my main lift of the day. Getting too psyched for everything is exhausting and not in a good way. I learned this the hard way.


I know what you mean. This is only reserved for max effort work, and the only other thing I get in the right mind set for is DE work/if I work up to a top set on a supplemental exercise. It however is not close to what I'm like on ME day. ME=I get a (sometimes)large emotional response, DE work/working up to a rep max on a exercise=intensely focused

For volume work I approach it normally and think about the rep number, or whatever I plan on doing then go after it.


As others have said, everyone's a little different. IMO if you are going to get psyched for something, it's important not start to too early, i.e. if you are "dreading" tomorrow's workout you can't start trying to pump yourself up for it now. Same thing with a scheduled fight/event. I find it's way better to do the work and then pretty much put it out of mind as much as possible. Otherwise I find peak too early and/or over-think the whole thing.

This is actually something I really enjoyed about xfit back when I was into that. I'd go to sleep not knowing what needed to be done tomorrow so I wouldn't give it a second thought. Because the WOD's are inherently pretty random there was no pattern to anticipate so I'd just forget it until I woke up at 0dark30 clicked on the home page and just went out and did it (whatever "it" happened) before I had the chance to really think about how much it was going to suck. No muss, no fuss, no bother and very little mental energy tied up in working out. Come to think of it, that's why I like my job. I rarely know what we'll be doing til we show up on site, get our briefing and get directly to work. We're usually done any given project in a day or less then I wake up and do it all again so I'm rarely stressed out anticipating this or that. But I digress...

On the other hand as part of a group/team effort during training I can become very vocal about pushing/encouraging my teammates. I find it useful because people can feed on each others' energy and train harder while having it feel less like "work". This has been my experience both in team sports and group PT sessions. Of course, this naturally works a little better in a group setting because if I were to scream at myself like a football coach/drill instructor while I was by myself doing burpees in the park or sprints at the track, I'm pretty sure someone would call the cops before I made it too far.


I try to get myself hyped if I feel my focus slipping.

Usually I can get myself into this one mood--its hard to describe. It's not an aggressive mood where you're attacking the weights, it's more like a place of total focus where I'm really concentrating. There, I feel that I have complete control over every single muscle fiber. I'm not angry, I'm not excitable, I'm not compromised in any way--its like I'm inside every single part of myself and I have one goal.

Of course I sound like a raving lunatic but that's to be expected.


Yep, that's exactly what I was talking about above. Good description.


On that tough set, I lose myself in a certain song, clear my mind and get some primal rage going. It definitely takes a bit of effort to get into this state, so I have to save it for 20 rep squats, or my last set of heavy bench.


In the beginning I used to NEED music to pump myself up, now it distracts me - I like hearing the plates smash together. If I'm attempting a new weight I'll visualize myself 50lbs heavier and zen the fuck out.


What I do for maxes is hype way up, and then give myself about 15-30 seconds to clear my head I just take the plunge. During that time I'm clearing my head, I imagine that I'm not lifting anything more than a bamboo pole with a feather on each side. How much I amp myself up depends on the lift. With squats, it isn't a whole lot because of how technical the lift is but I hope that will improve as the movement starts to feel more and more natural. With deadlifts, I do it as much I can without passing out before, during, or after the set including slapping myself in the face pretty hard a couple of times. Bench is somewhere inbetween. Another cool trick to put a really cold water bottle directly against your stomach.

I never got anything out of ammonia besides feeling nauseated and light headed... not so good before a max lift.

For regular training, I'll hype up for ME lifts more and more as I get closer to taking maxes. So at the beginning phases, all I do is clear my head without amping up. At the later phases, I might amp myself up to like 70-80 percent of what I would for real maxes.


since saying "everyone's different" for one more time I'll drop here my reason on why I actually STOPPED actively trying to hype myself up before big lifts/games.

I actually learned this the hard way on football games, when I was younger I'd go apeshit on warm-ups/pregames and by the time the first quarter started I was so unconcentraded and out of tune that foolish mistakes would happen. As the time past and I finally accepted that details make all the difference, I dropped the act altogether.

Also, I find that if I hype myself up, my energy 'leaks' out very fast. Right now I just try to relax and concentrate as much as I can before games/heavy sessions, and just let it rip when the time is right. At first you come across as a dude that's 'not feeling it' for so being so calm and collected, but find the sweet spot to flip the switch and you'll be ok.