T Nation

Mental Approach to Widowmakers

So any of you who have done these towards the end of a leg workout know it takes quite a bit of mental fortitude to get yourself under the bar and start your set. I’m just curious what mental approaches different T brothers take out there.

I’ve heard of guys who think of it as 4 sets of 5. While other people go all out continuously to 10-13 reps or so, then take their first big breather, after which each single rep is a fight. Tonight I tried a different approach going continuously only to 5 or so, thinking more about pacing myself and keeping my breathing as relaxed as possible between every rep. Seemed to work much better for me personally…the “fighting” didn’t really kick in until about rep 16 even though this was +5lbs on the weight I used 4 days ago when shit got ridiculous around rep 12 or so.

Usually the first 12-14 I do continuous… no tricks. Then I’ll usually split the last reps in half; 2 sets of 3 or 4. I also count down at the end, instead of up.

I’ve considered many times trying to just remain even with the old prescription of “take one breath between each rep; then, when you need to, take two; then three”. But when I’ve actually gone to do it, it’s never happened.

But maybe keeping a more even pace is the way to go. I’ll try it tomorrow.

[quote]LoRez wrote:
Usually the first 12-14 I do continuous… no tricks. Then I’ll usually split the last reps in half; 2 sets of 3 or 4. I also count down at the end, instead of up.

I’ve considered many times trying to just remain even with the old prescription of “take one breath between each rep; then, when you need to, take two; then three”. But when I’ve actually gone to do it, it’s never happened.

But maybe keeping a more even pace is the way to go. I’ll try it tomorrow.[/quote]

hmmm…I’ll have to give the counting backwards thing a shot. It really helps to FOCUS on the breathing…get your mind off the fatigue in the legs, upper back, etc. I also like getting a spotter and telling them to count for me…lol.

Do the counting let miss spotter do the spanking, it is my preferred approach !

I think of it this way : Im going to do what other guys that I will compete against wouldnt, this is what will make me better than them

i get the most anxiety by worrying about reps. around six reps i start to feel resistance and i worry that i suddenly got much weaker from last week and i wont be able to meet my rep quota. so before any exercise i tell myself to not worry about the number of reps, just to get some good reps.

for squats i plan to take a breath after every rep, i plan to, i dont have to. i used to do constant tension squats where i would be in constant motion but my rest breaks would be very long because i would not want to start because i knew i would be trapped squatting. so i plan to take a breath after every rep and say “that wasnt so bad”

I go all out until I feel like I only have a couple of reps left in me and then I’ll go in little sets of ones or twos until I get to my 21 reps. I have found one other way to make it easier is to tell myself I’m going for a set of 30 and then stop when I get to 21, it stops you from psyching yourself out at the end.

When I performed 20 rep squat sets in the past the things I kept in my head was how this is what nobody else is willing to do, in conjunction with the fact that if I failed to make 20 reps, not because of muscle failure, I’d hold it against myself and be let down/depressed because of it. It’s a fact that 20 rep squat sets are totally mental whether or not you are physically capable of actually making 20 reps. I’ve only back squatted 455 as my all time PB, but have performed 20 rep sets with 335 and 350. My 350 set was consecutive reps until the SIXTH rep! Had to really do a gut check to finish. The aforementioned reasons definitely made the difference for me though.

With all of my rep ranges I count up to half way and down the rest of the way eg. a set of 12 is 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 5 4 3 2 1. I didn’t set out with a plan to do this, it just happened, and seems to work better for me than just counting to 12. With 20 rep squats however the ocd goes into overdrive! I will count out the 12 as usual then tell my brain, ok three more, 15 is a good number, then when I get to 15 say, right 3 more, 18 is good, then be like, might as well do 2 more now I’m here. I don’t know if my brain is so stupid as to fall for this every time or what but it works for me. Straight counting to 20 does not.

Do you guys wear a weight belt on these? On the one hand it helps stabilize your core during the latter reps; on the other hand, it really fucks up my breathing. I have found myself much better off WITHOUT.

[quote]jskrabac wrote:
Do you guys wear a weight belt on these? On the one hand it helps stabilize your core during the latter reps; on the other hand, it really fucks up my breathing. I have found myself much better off WITHOUT. [/quote]

Pretty much up to 15ish reps, wearing a belt is better for me. Above 15, I’m better off sans belt for breathing purposes.

As to attitude, before basically any set that I know is gonna REALLY hurt, I just think of all the people who are pushing harder than me.

I wear my belt one hole short of normal.
I always try to get to 10 before I pause, from there I shoot for 3-5, then 2-3, then as required. I don’t stop at 20 if there is more there…widowmaker means failure. IMO…there should be a serious burden of your respiration; it should feel like drowning!

When I’m training with a partner/group the internal competition is enough to take care of motivation. When lifting solo it can be challenging. Find another lifter, that for whatever reason, just bothers you a bit. Maybe they are just ahead or right on your heels; and ask them to spot you. If the enemy isn’t available then an ally is my next choice, preferably one that can relate to what I’m about to do.

I always remind myself to ‘Finish Strong’!
I do not want to put myself through what it takes to prepare for something like a widowmaker and feel like my effort was anything short of ‘outright’ when it is over.

I’m with BlueCollarTrainer that a widow maker should be an all out set and that placing a “hard” limit/rep number isn’t always the best course of action. I always aim for a certain number of reps, but sometimes go over it or occasionally fall slightly short. The point is to push yourself to your limit.

As far as motivation goes, my advice is to change your perspective from having to “pay the price” to get the results you want to “enjoying the price”. In other words, try to get yourself to enjoy pushing yourself to the limit; enjoy feeling like someone is putting a blow torch to your quads; enjoy the sensation of feeling like your heart is going to pound it’s way through your chest cavity like an Alien. These things let you know you are alive. They also help you to realize that “hard/difficult” doesn’t equal bad and to push through self imposed “limits” and see that you are actually capable of much more than you may have previously though.

Anger, comradery, and competition can all be useful motivators as well, but getting in touch with that deep seated, primal will which we all hold inside us (the indomitable spirit) is the best course of action IMO because it is not reliant on external factors. But hey, whatever works for you, use it.

best thread idea in a good minute…