Intimidate the Weight

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You know what’s the limiting factor preventing many people from attaining their strength or aesthetic goals?  Anger.  People need to get more angry when they train.  It’s as simple as that.

Granted, I’m a little spoiled in that I train (and work) at a pretty kick-ass facility where it’s common practice to brag about how many callouses were ripped off during the last training session, you don’t have to “sneak” chalk in, people request Slipknot when going for a PR (sorry, no Michael Buble), the only acceptable excuse for having your cell phone on the gym floor is if you happen to be texting with Jessica Alba or a Victoria Secret model, and when in a pinch, battery acid is an acceptable substitute for protein powder as a post-training shake.

Okay, so that last part was a bit of a stretch, but nevertheless, the training environment at CP can be pretty intense.

Alternatively, walk into most (not all: yes, Dean Somerset, not all commercial gyms are walking piles of fail) commercial gyms and it’s hard not to recognize how bored and disinterested people look.  What’s more, if you take a minute or two and just watch how people train – just going through the motions and training with no effort or purpose – it’s not hard to put two and two together and understand that people need to grow a pair and train with some freakin conviction.

I mean, seriously.  Take a few minutes and actually watch how people train.  Many will just gingerly pick up a pair of dumbbells, do their 8-10 sloooooooooooooooow reps, delicately put the weights down, and then go off and take a sip of their electrolyte enhanced Vitamin Water before heading over to the elliptical machine that’s attached to a Bose theater system.

And, even if someone is making somewhat of a concerted effort to do something worthwhile – like squat – it’s like watching a butterfly kiss a rainbow.

Jesus people –GET ANGRY!!!!!!

I watched one guy not too long ago just go through the motions while squatting and it was just painful to watch.  By the time he loaded the bar, un-racked the weight, checked himself in the mirror for the umpteenth time, and performed his “set” (if that’s what you want to call it; I did my entire training session, watched Titantic three times, read Atlas Shrugged, played in a cricket match, arm wrestled a grizzly bear (and won), and washed the dishes.

So, to say that his set was pretty much a waste of time would be an understatement.

You see, that’s one component I feel many trainees miss the mark on entirely:  BAR SPEED!!!

Chad Waterbury has written on this topic extensively and has noted on several occasions that, when it comes to the Central Nervous System and performance, so long as the “effort” to be fast is there – meaning, you tell yourself to be fast, even if the load is heavy – you’ll then recruit more high threshold motor units (which also have a greater propensity for growth), and as a result, you’ll increase muscle mass, burn more fat, cure cancer, you get the idea.

Dumbing it down even further (because obviously it’s a lot more complicated than this blog post):  load a bar with whatever weight you’re going to use + make an effort to lift said weight quickly = good things will happen.

I don’t care if you’re deadlifting, squatting, or benching – approach the bar and intimidate the weight!!!.

Shake it.  Make it your bitch.  Tell it it’s ugly.

Grab that mofo with your hands, and grip it like you mean it.

Now when you actually lift the bar – lift it like you mean it!  Don’t just go through the motions.  I’m not kidding, you want to try lift the weight so fast that people destroy the back of their pants.

Note:  again, it’s about effort.  Even if the load is heavy, so long as the “intent” to be fast is there, that’s what we’re looking for.

If you’re squatting, get your ass out of the hole and snap those hips through at the end.  Try to make the plates rattle as you stand up.

If you’re deadlifting, trust me, if you don’t somehow fire yourself up, that bar isn’t going to budge off the floor.  Shake the bar.  Get your air.  Pull your shoulders down and lock them in, chest tall, and rip that bar from the floor like you mean it.  Again, snap those hips.  Make the plates rattle!

The same can be said whether you’re benching, lunging, goodmorning’ing (?), or even doing tricep pressdowns – I don’t care.  Lift with some balls will ya?  Or, if you’re a girl, lift with some fallopian tubes.*

For those who are more visual learners, here’s a great example:


* Credit to Nia Shanks for the awesome line…….;o)

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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  • Yes!!!! Nice post Tony. Plus, you get 10 points for the Ayn Rand nod.

  • I don't lift with balls, for obvious reasons. I do, however, like to engage the power of my fallopian tubes when going for a max deadlift.

    Speaking of deadlift – I LOVE your new article on T-Nation. It's no secret you're one of my favorite fitness guys, and combine that with you talking about my favorite lift. Perfection. ; )

    I'll stop cyber-flirting now and get back to work . . .

  • JacobP

    Damn straight. I know when I'm deadlifting I've got an NC-17 bubble around me – you'd be surprised at the novel and innovative ways you can string profanities together when going for a new PR.

  • I think my testosterone just went up about 82% reading this. I want to go street fight a pack of rabid wolverines and chew through a brick wall now.

  • Matt

    Well now I'm packing my gym bag and heading to the gym to deadlift with that Magnusson video replaying in my head.

    I find that if I vividly visualize beating the shit out of every guy checking out his abs and flexing his “guns” in the mirror I can slap another 20+ pounds on the bar easily. Great post Tony!

  • Scott

    Well played Gentilcore, well played.

  • Get angry seems to be a thing from powerlifting. Olympic lifters are quite the opposite and are almost Zen like before a lift – silent, & focused.

    I think it varies sport-to-sport. Golf and fencing are quiet whereas football (obviously) is not.

  • Kelsey

    Did you hear that? That rumble? It's the plates shaking with fear in anticipation for the beating they'll get during my training session today.

    Great post!

  • Chad

    So since we're talking about bad assery in lifitng music i have a question… The song “Sometimes When We Touch” wouldn't be a good song to dominate the bar to but what about when the King of Bad A$$es, Manny Pacquiao, sings it?

  • SO glad I read this before going to the gym for heavy squat day!

  • R Smith

    Entire article: What he said AND said very well.


  • Tony great post. Really enjoyed your deadlift article on T-nation as well. Keep up the great work!

    Coach Gaglione

  • Daniel

    A very similar post was put up at

    Goes into more of the science and research behind how anger increases testosterone, and thus your PR.

    Site is incredibly not safe for work however.

  • Steve

    Great cue: “Make the plates rattle!”

  • Nice post Tony. This reminded me of a study from the 90s that I stumbled across a while ago. Participants trained each leg explosively, but unilateral where one leg moved against resistance while the other was restrained (isometric). At the end, both legs improved similarly with respect to rate of force development, even though the one leg was trained only isometrically. The authors concluded that as long as the INTENT to contract quickly was there, the ACTUAL movement speed didn’t matter all that much. Applying this to training, like you said, we need to coach to attack the weight, because adaptations that promote power can still happen when weights are heavy and the movement speed is slow. Here’s a link to the study, older but a classic IMHO.

  • Great post Tony, so right many people go through the motions. Interestingly I have also observed the opposite in fairly new trainees. That is some kids that get their CNS so hyped just before a big lift that they kind of 'overcook' the intensity before they get to the bar.

    Great post as always!

  • ori

    that deadlift was very impressive, moreso to me though than the pull was on the way down how he was able to control and lower the weight like it was nothing

  • Tony Gentilcore

    @ Nia: HA, nice!! I totally put your “train with some fallopian tubes” into the post.

    @ Dean: you and me both.

    @ Matt: Honestly, I don't know how you do it dude. Whenever I train at a commercial gym, I want throw battery acid into my eyes. It's painful. Glad I could provide some inspiration for you, though.

  • Tony Gentilcore

    @ Neil: I get what you're trying to say, but really, I'm just trying to fire up the regular folk who read this blog.

    @ Dan Ogborn: thanks for sharing that link!

    @ Thomo: true, very true. Namely because a lot of those kids drink Red Bull like it's water. It's problematic to say the least!

  • I put this on my ipod to get in the right mindset:

    Works every time.

  • That is badass my friend

  • I absolutely agree with you here!

    I love to listen to System of a Down and getting FIRED UP before lifting! 😀

  • Eric B

    I will be re-reading this before I rip some sumo deads off tomorrow