T Nation

Tip You Can Use Today

This may be a little abstract for some. Also, this may be more suited to less experienced lifters. But it still has application for advanced trainees too.

Theory part:
O.K, motor control theorists have known for years that an external focus of attention when performing a complex motor task / skill can potentiate performance as well learning and retention of the skill. Interestingly, said theorists have also demonstrated that an internal focus of attention is detrimental to performance (in less skilled individuals, and, to a much higher degree, to skilled performers).

In the world of strength an internal focus of attention would be anything that relates specifically to you (while performing a lift!). An external focus relates to the environment. Essentially this relates to the parallysis (sorry sp?) by analysis cliche.

Tip:
When performing an exercise / lift, instead of focusing on yourself when performing the lift, focus on an object in your eyeline and aim to

  1. throw the bar to it (in the case of benche presses, military press etc).
    2)move away and move towards it (squats etc)

By not focusing on yourself you, according to motor control theorists anyway, allow unconscious higher order processes to take over the movement and you, after a period of time, intuitively find what works for you!!

For some, this has been shown to improve performance (albeit no research has looked at strength skills). Try it and see if it works for you. Obviously, you need a decent degree of skill / aswareness of techniques to perform the lifts etc, however by not focusing on the minutae during each lift you may improve performance.

This is a good tip. I notice the same thing when I play guitar, when I think about making my fingers move a certain way, I’m much slower and less coordinated then when I think about what I want to accomplish and just let my subconcious mind control the fine motor skills.

[quote]jtrinsey wrote:
This is a good tip. I notice the same thing when I play guitar, when I think about making my fingers move a certain way, I’m much slower and less coordinated then when I think about what I want to accomplish and just let my subconcious mind control the fine motor skills.[/quote]

I’m the exact same. I seem the play the best when I’m day dreaming about something completely different (I guess not EXACTLY the same since I’m day dreaming…)

[quote]vision1 wrote:
jtrinsey wrote:
This is a good tip. I notice the same thing when I play guitar, when I think about making my fingers move a certain way, I’m much slower and less coordinated then when I think about what I want to accomplish and just let my subconcious mind control the fine motor skills.

I’m the exact same. I seem the play the best when I’m day dreaming about something completely different (I guess not EXACTLY the same since I’m day dreaming…)[/quote]

same concept, letting your subconcious do the work.

always do that “push” myself away from the bench or pull myself “INTO” the floor when deadlifting.Punch “THROUGH” your opponent. All very good mental cues.

Thanks, I will mull this over. This is very timely for me.

Great post. I’ve had a few experiences where i was focusing on something else and my lift just flew up effortlessly using weights i had previously struggled with. I’ve never really looked into it but this post has aroused my curiosity again!

If you think this is cool, search around for
sensorimotor system
sensorimotor pathways