T Nation

The Mental Aspect

CT, over the years have you found the mental aspect to be critical, literallyin a physioglocical sense?

I’m observing that my mood, how I perceive my workouts, my energy level etc. DRASTICALLY effects performance and even body composition. I remmeber reading Skip Lacour’s stuff and 80% of his materials were about the mental aspect of bodybuilding and at the time, I hated it and thought it was bogus.

So in that vein, do you have any optimal recommendations? Some of this stuff can be counterintuive (i.e. pumping music, slapping face, being overly caffeinated could be in effective LONG TERM) but what I’ve found to produce the best results are:

  1. Music (you dislike this), paritculalry in commercial gyms.
  2. Pre-workout neutropic - coffee, tyrosine, spike, etc.
  3. An inflated sense of confidence (i.e. high energy/strutting around)
  4. Keeping pace up
  5. Pre-set “clearing” of mind (rigid rep/set prescriptions just kill this). It’s like your saying the cerebral/analyzing has to turn off. Maybe some physical cues but it’s really just “attacking” the bar.
  6. CHASING PERFORMANCE and never grinding. Sometimes I get to eager with your ramp and jump in huge increments. When I hit a set where the weight felt uncontrollable, my entire mood and desire to train sank.

For workouts when I’m “moody” and low energy, the pump, strength, and performance contrast are shocking. And certain days when I’m elated, I literally get euphoric and “ignore” pain. Its like a massive rush where “training to failure” for a rep range becomes meaningless because I just keep going. I’m not sure how many of THESE kind of workouts I should have and whether I should be chasing this “elated” state for long term gains.

I’m starting to understand your previous comments about “nervous system is king”. Like poundages are important but an external variable whereas stimulatoin/performance all comes from the “CNS”…

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
CT, over the years have you found the mental aspect to be critical, literallyin a physioglocical sense? [/quote]

Most definetly… your psyche is strongly linked to your hormonal system. For example it has been found that being down and taking a beta male posture (slouched over) decreases testosterone levels while an alpha male posute increase it.

Similarily, while in Colorado we had to film the high pull… bright camera lights, the importance of it all, positive words by Tim and I got a 20kg PR (over a previous PR that I established roughly 3 days prior).

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:

  1. Music (you dislike this), paritculalry in commercial gyms.[/quote]

I’m not a big fan of music or any external stimulus to improve your performance. But it is true that whether you like it or not, it can affect your performance when it is in the background. And it isn’t even related to how hard the music is, it really depends on what leads to a strong emotional response for you. Personally I always responded well to Irish drinking songs believe it or not!!!

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
2. Pre-workout neutropic - coffee, tyrosine, spike, etc. [/quote]

I don’t like them, artificial arounsal that can lead to several issues if used too often.

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
3. An inflated sense of confidence (i.e. high energy/strutting around) [/quote]

I call this the “prison phenomenon”… strutting like an alpha male definetly can increase your confidense and even testosterone levels.

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
4. Keeping pace up [/quote]

Cannot be emphasized enough… this is especially important once you are in the zone. Keeping a good pace is the best way to stay in the zone and get the most out of your workout.

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:
5. Pre-set “clearing” of mind (rigid rep/set prescriptions just kill this). It’s like your saying the cerebral/analyzing has to turn off. Maybe some physical cues but it’s really just “attacking” the bar. [/quote]

This is especially important with more complex lifts. Thinking too much is one of the best way to disturb perfect lifting mechanics… I call that either paralysis by analysis or castrating yourself.

Just this morning I had a lifter take too long to start his snatch once set up and I told him to walk away, shake it off and re-set.

Feeling the hormonal cascade!

[quote]-Sigil- wrote:

Feeling the hormonal cascade! [/quote]

Actually that is EXACTLY the song I used pre competition when I did olympic lifting!!!

That and “Home for a Rest” by Spirit of the West, which isn’t technically an Irish group, but it is Irish style.

Great questions sigil and great answers ct.And i thought i was odd with my music choices that make me feel good and in the zone.Love several songs from the last of the mohicans sound track.haha…

I had an experience with music today at the gym. I train at a commercial gym largely dominated by elypticals, treadmills, and machines. I was doing a high pull session today. I used to listen to my own music during my workout but I don’t anymore plus I don’t like anything in my ears or attached to my arms, iPod for example, and ear buds. But, today on the radio they were playing pop music like Call Me Maybe and crap like that. Really makes it hard to focus and stay in the groove.