T Nation



I have always noticed that my performance in the gym is as much mental as it is physical. Usually when I am able to psyche myself up like crazy prior to a set, I perform much better and feel a much better pump as a result.

Question: What do YOU guys think about prior to an important set? I'm just curious..

It's quite funny some of the things I think about prior to a set. Most of them are rather savage immature thoughts.. but whatever it takes to get that surge of mental energy I guess.. :slight_smile:


I try to clear my head as much as possible. I find it's the best way for me to stay focused.


I don't visualize myself lifting it like many people say you should. I just think to myself,
"This is your only choice. There is no other way out. PUSH IT! PUSH IT! PUSH IT! YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE GAINS IF YOU DON'T LIFT THIS FUCKING WEIGHT! NOW SHUT THE FUCK UP, PUSSY, AND LIFT THE FUCKING WEIGHT!" During that time, I set my breathing and usually, if squatting, start shaking the power rack uncontrollably. If I am dling, I roll the weight back and forth and scream, "AAAAAHHHH! EASY SHIT!! EASY SHIT!" I usually get pretty psycd. It is def mostly mental.


I like to picture a violent thunderstorm brewing. Low boiling clouds, heavy rain, then the lighting usually corresponds with my effort.

Or Sometimes I picture nothing, a void, with just the weights sitting there wasting away, just waiting for someone to come move them.

The usual ramblings of a malformed brain.....


I'm with ND on this one--empty mind

just before a max double on deadlifts or squats, my brain function is around the level of "thinking bad, lifting good"--even that is a distraction

everyone is different though, and some people I know like to think about their bosses or someone else who makes them angry--anger can be a good motivator



I tend to be along the lines of ND. I dont think!

However, lately I think about my ex's new jerk of a boyfriend. The one who has called and threatened me and drove to my house in the middle of the night when he was drunk to quote on quote, "fuck my face up on the curb"...ALA American History X just because he is an insecure jag-off who cant deal with the fact that my ex and I are still friends. That kinda motivates me to get the weight up at times...haha


haha tony

that's some good motivation and I am sure it felt good to get that off your chest


This doesn't exactly fall in to the category of getting psyched up but I thought I would share it anyway. The best workout I ever had was immediately after my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. That workout I set new personal bests on every exercise, some by 20-25lbs. So if you can get someone to freak you out before a workout it definitely works.


... yeeeah, I'd say Bob's just about right.

If I'm not coining new obscenities under my breath, then I'm pushing myself into an approximation of that 'fight or flight' panic state. And just like Joe Average lifting a tractor off his bud, I put up more off the rack.



I visualize the weight moving up, visualize the action of the muscles, visualize the feeling where a heavy weight falls into the groove so smoothly that all you have to do is push, and visualize myself coming to look and perform more and more like I want to with each and every set. By the time I'm done with all that, watch out. Jesus, I just got back from the gym, and now I want to go again!


I mostly focus on not farting during the set. A serious rip will throw your form off pretty fast.


SteelyEyes, you're on the right track about trying not to fart. If you're squeezing your asshole, you will most definitely be squeezing your glutes and will stay tighter in the DL and squat. This is a good thing.
Sometimes I tell myself, "Get mad!" right before my set, but usually as I'm chalking my hands, I visualize I'm rubbing strength into my body and I'm saying to myself, "Strong, powerful, in control."


haha that's right steelyeyes, i always get psyched before a lift. 2 times i farted during a lift, once a dl and once a squat... i could stop laughing for like 10 min... not to mention that that set sucked


i dont actually think about anything when pschying up but can feel the adrenalin hitting me nontheless.
usually focus on performance cues like ;
"tuck elbows, keep but on bench, break the bar etc"
"sitting back, squeezing glutes"
whatever needs to be done in the exercise


My motivation begins before I go to the gym. I've found that I need to be prepared for the session, mainly because I train no later than 5am.