T Nation

Lifting Rituals


I was at the gym today and my workout partner layed his lifting belt across the bar that we were using. Now that would be okay if the weight on the bar was his, but this was my set and only my belt can be on the bar before my set. That got me thinking about all the rituals that I have acquired over the years under the iron.

I was curious to hear from some of you guys on the topic. I wonder if some of us have some of the same ones and am alwaysinterested in hearing about new ones. (really I just want to know that I'm not the only crazy one)

Below is the short list that only scratches the surface on the many that I have.

-The biggest one has to do with the collars on the end of the bar. My gym uses the type that you squeeze and they release. The ends that you squeeze MUST be turned upward. In my mind the weight will go up if the ends are turned up.

-Only on max effort lifts I have to touch the bill of my hat right before I pull, press or squat.

-Only on max effort lifts I have to make sure that I cover my entire palm of my hands with chalk.

-I have to arch three times before starting my count for the liftoff on the bench.

-Only on max effort lifts, I have to be able to first visualize myself lifting the weight before I can attempt the lift. Sometimes this is difficult and may take several minutes of standing there looking like an idiot with his eyes closed.

Maybe I just need a really good shrink.



-If I am waiting for 60 seconds between sets, at 50 seconds I begin to setup and at 57, I lock my hands on the bar.

-I will slap my hamstrings right before back squatting or deadlifting two times.

-I take three deep breaths before I lay down to bench and I take three more before I grip the bar. I stamp my feet three times and then lift off.

-the collars must be perfectly tight; the plates cannot clatter.

-I always pace between sets near the rack.


I share the two above with you and damn cant beleive Im drawing a blank there are so many little things I know I do but its habit and you kind of dont notice them.

The Bar MUST be perfect centered on the rack before I will grab or shoulder the bar. MUST be.

More of a pet peeve it ME day I have a rough plan I know what I am there to do. I know waht Ive hit prior and what I need to beat. Sure encourage me talk yell at me while im lifting if you like. Dont talk to me about life problems, etc. Dont try and give me pointers or things to change during this session. Not that Im opposed to hearing it and things that may help me but it wont make a difference today and will just get me of focus.

I sit at the end of the bench prior to taking position and take three nice long breaths rocking back and forth, relax and at the same time get fired up and focused. Then take position.

On the DL for some damn reason I will get my grip. I stay in a full on stiff leg rounded back form during this. Get my breath I will then drop my hips, and arhc back into position and then back out. I do this one time. then will do it again but this time is go time.

Oh and the bar on the dl no matter where I am and waht kind of floor etc. the bar has to be in line with something STRAIGHT. be it parallel to marls on the flooring. parallel to the nearest wall. Perpendicural to something. It is in line perfect with something and not just rolling round out there.

Thats all I can think of.


There are tons but one main is I also pace...but I have a route that I follow in the gym. It's the same all the time when it's a max day. Other days I still pace, but in no pattern.


Yup there 2 of mine too. Also when I'm benching the ar must be parrallel to a line in the roof before I lift off. I'll get up and move the damn bench if I have to.

Oh and when squatting, my belt always goes on first, but I don't close the lever, then my right wrist wrap with the loop on my thumb, then my left wraps with the loop on my pinky. Then it's time to chalk my hands, grab some ammonia, go ape shit and only then will I close my belt and get under the bar.


If I'm doing something exceptionally heavy, I'll talk to the barbell and call it weak prior to each set.

The truth hurts.


I thought of more...

-I always have to wrap my left leg/wrist first then the right.

-the bar must be perfectly even on each side of the uprights on the bench and squat rack. I then move it around once I lay down or get under the bar.

-I circle the bench at least once before a big press

_ I always hit whomever is working out with me when they are going for a PR. (that one isn't a ritual. I just like hitting people)

-My gym uses the plates that have flat sides on them (not round plates). All the side MUST be lined up before a lift.



Those are the absolute worst fucking plates. You cant do shit off of the floor with them. My main gym has them and they are terrible!

The only ritual I have is to pace around when I'm in between sets. I cant just sit there on a bench or seat. I have to keep moving.


weights have to be in descending order. Heaviest nearest to me. Also, all plates have to be the same type. No mixing ivanko plates with other makes.


I have to agree with you about the plates. I much prefer the round ones. I guess they made those for people too weak to pick up the plates from the sides. They have those holes in the sides for carrying. As for pulling from the floor, they are horrible. after each rep you have to readjust the bar because it's always angled to one side or the other.



one of the guys who trains with us has that same one. I think it's more OCD than a ritual. If four of us are training together he will line the dumbells up from heaviest to lightest.



I do that too. Sometime I'll visualize some negative force in my life in place of the barbell and I'll say the nastiest things. I imagine it looks really creepy seeing me pace back and forth in front of the barbell while mumbling obscenities to it.


On max effort day i face the bench, pray and as i lay down on it and start to set up i yell "tight".


I think most lifters have a touch of OCD. I was discussing this with Derek when I made it out to one of his outdoor strength sessions (sorry I never made it back if you're reading this, dude... basement still has all my free time tied up).

My gym, like most, has an unfinished ceiling. When I'm on a bench, the bar MUST line up with the ceiling beams. I also need to visualize the lift and be "ready" before I can do it.

If I happen to become "aware" of the music being piped into the gym, it usually screws me up. I have to wait for the song's chorus before I start my lift. I don't have this problem if I'm wearing headphones, but the cords annoy me so I usually don't.

If I'm wearing a belt, I usually wrap it around counter clockwise.

Outside of the gym, I definitely have a bunch of OCD traits. I will often count my steps, particularly on stairs. If I'm walking from point A to point B (say, the mall exit to my truck) I will start counting down from 100. I may check on a door lock two or three times before I'm satisfied.

The big one for me, though, is if I have any question about food I'm about to eat being tampered with, I cannot eat it. One time, a few years ago, I opened a new jar of pickles and had one. Then, it occurred to me that there was no plastic seal or "pop top" on the jar. I immediately started feeling faint and dizzy. I literally had to drive to the supermarket to make sure that none of the jars had plastic seals or pop tops. Once I confirmed that they were all the same, I felt OK.

Guess I'm a little fucked.


You just made me feel a whole lot better about myself...



-Oh yes, how could I forget, the bar must be perfectly centred in the rack !

-My snatch-grip or mixed-grip deads (I am a conventional deadlifter) must be JUST outside my feet.


Pacing for sure is one. I didnt even think of that as I just do it. more so as the loads start to get to the work sets.

That and Ill pace and stop and bounce kind of just off my calfs, then pace repeat. Get very quiet and focused. AS I get closer to when say im going to squat the pacing gets shorter until I do just a few back and forth the width of the rack. Get in and go.


Oh visualization and talking to my self for sure. Not so much talking to the bar you FREAKS!!!


Mine is actually functional. I have to wipe my towel back and forth across the bar before heavy deads and overheads. It's a calming, focus ritual but also makes sure I'll have a clean, solid grip.


I'm definitely a bar must be centered before I lift it. All plates packed in tight, no rattling. Three deep breaths, exhale, count two, inhale and go, before any set, ever. The bench must be aligned perfectly with the ceiling beams, this is definitely true.

I hold up my hands into the mirror of how many reps I want before a heavy set. Say I want 6 110 lb dumbbell incline presses, I will hold up six fingers to myself in the mirror, making it click in my head that I WANT six reps.

Max days I wear all black. The old PR's have to die and I'm going to their funeral.

I think I'm nuts like the rest of you.