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Muscle Evolution Editor, Werner Beukes

Training idiosyncrasies

What is the difference between a lifter pushing 100 kg and failing and another taking the risk of going for 110kg and succeeding?

There is a long conditioned false assumption that there is no link between psychology and lifting weights. What is the big deal? Just lift the weights, right.The mental side of things is often overlooked.The lifter who succeeds in the gym is a risk-taker. In the world of business those who take the risks may lose more often but they also win more often too.The same mentality applies to lifting weights. Too much and you might find yourself out of action nursing nasty injuries. Too little will mean you are going nowhere.The golden middle is where you should be.Only trial and error will tell you exactly where that is for you.

Lifting weights does not offer immediate gratification. You have to work damn hard for the results to show.The higher one goes the harder the gains.Bodybuilding is unique because it encompasses many different facets of training. Strength, power, hypertrophy, flexibility and balance are all interlinked. Preparing to lift is about getting your head in the game. For some reason most follow their own little rituals. An espresso before a workout, gripping the bar the same way, breathing the same way, turning your cap around on your head before you squat are all examples of these little rituals.Is there something behind this preparation phenomenon?In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning researchers looked at three preparation strategies: a warm-up on a bike, dynamic stretching and squats.Each method improved both the performance and the activation of the muscles tested.By following these strategies athletes primed their bodies for training. Is this the same as the psychological effect of a mental ritual? I think more research is needed to answer that question properly but in the meantime I’ll carry on with my little training idiosyncrasies.

Werner’s Weekly Tip:

The right way to squat is to look straight ahead, not at your toes or the ceiling because it allows for your chest to stay upright and your trapezius muscles to be under the bar.

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