Overcoming Your Demons by Monster A powerlifter comes across many things in their lifting career that impede their progress, from training plateaus to physical injuries that slow progress, to the struggle to find a training method (from among the MANY ones available) that works for them to train a particular lift. But one thing that can bring progress to a grinding halt is fear. When I speak of fear, I am not just speaking of the traditional "scared" fear, though that is included… I am speaking of fear in the context of a psychological and emotional response to lifting that manifests itself in a variety of ways. Some people are perfectly capable of taking a certain weight, but when they take it out of the rack they find they cannot move it, or they cannot make depth or touch with the weight. Squatting is an excellent example of this, as I see many people who succumb to fear when they squat. Once the weight is on their back, they either do a pitifully shallow squat and then re-rack, or they take it out only to return it with an excuse. In both cases these people were most likely defeated by their own fear. The worst part of it is that even if they try to focus on whatever their problem is to defeat it, they cant see it, it's a devious and tricky thing that is almost invisible to us until pointed out by someone else, and even then it can be very difficult to overcome. How many times have you seen someone miss a lift in a meet that they can easily hit in the gym? Maybe even hit it in the gym for triples? That person has fallen to the Demon Fear! There are a lot of different methods to combat this Demon, and the lifter who is aware of its existence is one step ahead of it by being able to take preventative measures to protect themselves from it as fully as possible. The number one way to fight this Demon is through being prepared when you lift. Being prepared is kind of a general statement which needs to examined in detail to really understand, so we'll take it step by step. 1) Equipment. Have the equipment you need, and see that it is in good working order. If you need to wrap your knees, be sure youre knee wraps are in a condition that will afford you the support you need. Don't wear a suit or shirt that is ripped and obviously ready to blow out. If youre wearing a belt, make sure its fitted right and tightened up… you see what Im getting at? If any of these things are left undone, they may be nagging at you in the back of your mind, and those are the things that can ruin a lift for you. Those are the things that give the Demon its power. 2) Trust Your Spotters. This of course makes the assumption that you have good spotters, which you should. If you need multiple spotters (in big lifts its really a must) then use multiple spotters, and leave the job of spoting to them. Don't try and take the weight from your hand off, let it get handed off to you, and then perform the lift, Don't worry about what youll do if you cant make the lift, let the spotters handle that. I've taken 700+ lbs on my back (wth a bodyweight close to 300lbs) and stalled out at the bottom and been ably spotted by three guys all of whom are under 200lbs. Good spotting is a team effort, and a good spotter is a rare commodity. I happen to train with a group of people who I trust implicitly to pull me out of the hole if I fail, so I can go as heavy as I want to and not be concerned… 3) Don't Be Afraid To Make Some Noise. A member of the junior team is haunted by this Demon. He is overly concerned about dropping the bar off of his back, and it is hurting his form. A lot of people have that concern, and as Joe aptly stated it in the gym "That's what t he pins are for." I said "Then dump it, who gives a f**k?", but Joe's statement is probably better... In either case, don't worry about dumping weight. We all do it. Its part of the game! It might be a little unsettling to hear all of that iron come crashing down, but in the end, who really cares? I would rather dump a 700 lb, ass to the floor squat than not dump some pansy 225 lb quarter squat like you see most people doing. I think that once you dump your first big lift, you worry less about it happening again… so why not just take my word for it and not worry in the first place. 4) Weight Is Irrelevant. Now Im not going to give you some wishy-washy bodybuilding crap about "Its how much effort you put into the lift, not the amount of weight," Bullshit. Its completely about the amount of weight. 100%,without a doubt. The above statement is the mantra of those who are afraid to lift and need a reason to stick with the pink dumbbells, But that's not what Im talking about anyway. What I mean is that weight is irrelevant to the lift, its all about the form. You don't alter your form for lighter or heavier weight, it's the same form, right? So the weight on the bar is irrelevant. Youre going to lift it the same way no matter if its 200lbs or 700lbs, so if you follow rule two above along with this one, you can make your lift that much easier by conquering two of the Demons favorite points of attack at once. 5) Don't Try… DO!. A wise man once said (it was either Joe or Yoda), "There is no try, there is only DO." Don't enter into your lift with a frame of mind that you'll "try". That is a self-defeating attitude, and it carries negative subconscious undertones that are in themselves self-defeating. Just grab the bar and lift. If you make the lift, great, if you don't then you have something to shot for next time. 6) Have A Plan. Have a plan when you go into the gym. Don't rely on yourself to get everything done that needs to get done… its too easy to forget or talk yourself out of things, and usually your auxiliary work will be the thing that suffers. Know what you plan to accomplish when you get to the gym, and then accomplish it. As a powerlifter, you are in competition with yourself as much as with anyone else, and because of that you can be your own worst enemy. If you treat powerlifting as a journey, you can overcome your Demons and begin down a path of self-mastery. That may sound hokey or new agey, but powerlifting involves mastering your emotions, your mind and your body, so the better you are at those things, the better you will be at your lifts. So keep lifting, keep fighting those Demons and keep breaking your PR's!