Jedi Mind Tricks to Make You Instantly Stronger
Today I have a guest post by St. Louis based personal trainer Ian Fagala. Ian actually reached out to me right before I left for vacation about writing a little sumthin sumthin for the website while I was away, but unfortunately I dropped the ball and forgot to put it up.
In any case, when Ian forwarded the article to me and I saw the title, he had me at Jedi.
Some of the tips may see obvious, but they’ll still serve as a nice reminder that we don’t need to make things more complicated than they have to be.
I’ve been at this lifting thing for a while now, approximately 14 years, which is hard to believe. Now I’m no weightlifting prodigy, but having been in the game that length of time I’ve learned a thing or two.
Learning is a funny thing because we come armed to the teeth with information via google and the internet, but how much of that knowledge actually turns to wisdom? Because wisdom I contend is much more about putting knowledge into action, than simply knowing answers.
However, I don’t believe your reading this article to listen to me wax philosophic about knowledge and wisdom, you want to find out how you can instantly get stronger. Your goal might be to deadlift a Mac Truck, or bench press a volkswagen, but the distinction between knowledge and wisdom is an important one.
The reason is, I can list these two simple hacks to make you stronger, and you can know the answer of how to improve your lifts, but without actually putting them into action they don’t mean didley-squat. (It’s only a bonus that I’ve made a Star Wars reference to illustrate them!).
You’ve seen it before, confidence that is. For a prime example check out Ronnie Coleman below, arguably one of the best bodybuilders of all time.
The phrase “lightweight” is an example of it for Ronnie.
It doesn’t mean you psyche yourself and scream, yell, and sniff ammonia caps (you don’t’ want to be that guy), but you get ready for a tough set or PR by setting your mind on the task at hand without any other distractions.
You have to be confident that when you walk up to or slide under that bar and start to crush it with your grip, you know that you know that you know the only acceptable outcome is success.
This can tie pretty intimately to number one.
Visualization, as I’ve started practicing it, before tough sets usually increases my confidence before a lift. Many pro and olympic athletes use visualization to increase success in their respective sports, and if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me.
Before you un-rack the weight, take a few seconds and play a tape in your mind of every step of the set or lift attempt. Start by stepping up to the bar, gripping it and feeling the iron in your hands, imagine yourself getting into optimal positioning, and go through your entire setup.
Then continue through the set or attempt in your mind, each and every rep, and when you finish your set conjure up the same feelings you would have if you actually succeeded.
#3 Whole Body Tightness
I’m sure at this point some of you reading may be under the impression that I sit in the corner of the gym in the lotus position before I lift. Far from it. I actually do lift heavy things, and one of the concepts that I feel many trainees fail to address is whole body tightness or stiffness.
Getting tight is an easy way to instantly add more weight to the bar. Tony’s talked a lot about things like irradiation and the importance of gripping the bar hard, by adding the same advice to the rest of the body you can likely slip a few more pounds on the bar during your next training session.
Note from TG: here’s a video I shot for BodyBuilding.com which helps explain how engaging the lats – and gaining more TENSION – can have profound effects on deadlift performance.
Note from TG (continued…sorry I’m hijacking your article Ian): The same idea or principle can be applied to any lift, but it fits perfectly with the “big three” (deadlift, squat, bench press).
Bringing the conversation to the squat, one major mistake I see a lot of people make is how they approach the bar and set-up. Many will just haphazardly approach the bar without any intent or care in the world as if they’re Dorothy skipping down the yellow-brick road, duck under, un-rack the weight, and then perform their set.
Major, major mistake.
How you set-up for a lift is going to make or break the set. Always. No Discussion.
Don’t you roll your eyes at me mister!! I’ll send you up to your room with no supper. I’ll do it!
For a better idea of what I mean, check out the video below on how I coach someone to set-up to squat properly. The theme is TENSION!
It’s uncanny how surprised people are with how much more weight they can handle once they understand and grasp the concept of tension. It will take some tinkering around, but it’s not at all uncommon for people to add 10-25 lbs to their lift in one session.
About the Author
Ian is a Fitness Professional that has been working in and around the St. Louis area for the last 10 years or so. Most days you’ll find him at the gym or spending time with his family. He has worked with people from all walks of life and is passionate about helping regular people reach their fitness goals. You can read more about him at his blog or you can find him at his Facebook page HERE.
About the Author Who Hijacked the Author’s Article
Tony trains people, and writes stuff. Outside of his cat, Dagny, he’s obsessed with Matt Damon, Star Wars (obviously), and cheese. God, he loves cheese.