10 minute read.
So this guy, Brian Clark of Ohio University, he finds 29 people to wrap their wrists in surgical casts. Half visualise lifting, the others don’t. The people that imagined lifting, their wrists were twice as strong as those who didn’t. They imagined lifting 5 days a week, 11 minutes a day. Brian, he’s probably a swell guy, but he, in fact, was duplicating many studies before him. Similar studies have been done for decades, and it seems its largely agreed that the visualisation activates similar brain activity than actual lifting.
Your brain is part of the lift bro. You need brain gains to succeed long term.
The point of this article is an assumption that the negative is true. If you continually think you will not be strong, you will be injured, and you will not be the strongest guy in the gym, you are probably right.
A Lesson from Derek Viet
He probably won’t like me saying this, but I’m bigger than him. 12 months before he squatted a weight heavier than the world record at DBS, he had it written on the walls of his room. He stared at it every day. He was over 40kg off the record, but when we’d talk about, he had already committed to the success.
That is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’m old.
That one person’s belief is a huge part of the reason that over 15 members could squat 200 at the gym. Everyone just humanised success. We all had good reason to suspend disbelief.
At the same time, we had a new member join. He’d trained briefly at another gym and had confided in the coach he wanted to squat 170. The coach of that gym told him that was unrealistic. We can all safely assume that coach cannot squat 170 (despite training for many many years).
Its Later Than You Think – You need that mentality, now
Every one of us is capable of letting the days fly by. Yesterday you were 20, now you need to squint to read text messages. You need a sense of urgency to create inertia. You don’t need to be sprinting full time, but you need to be moving forward in a zombie-esque pace, just slowly moving forward. You need to recognize that every day, every workout, even every set must be worthwhile. Strength is a game of long term momentum. You need to believe that all those sets are going to add up, and that strength gains are imminent.
I have said this to a lot of people. If you don’t give up, and you don’t die, you end up strong. It's that simple.
If people took this idiom up, people would be far more realistic about the long-term gains possible in lifting.
Pragmatic Ways of Building Momentum and ensuring you end up, eventually, the strongest man in the gym
Here are some practical tips that help build a longer term plan. Hopefully these help
- Compete less often. After the initial stages of training, its good to have goals, but good not to put yourself in constant danger of breaking. Once a year is good. Once a year on a platform, once a year with your gym buddies, that’s plenty. Before you start each strength block, write out where you are going, and commit to it.
- Not all goals need to be about 1RM. Not all goals need to be about the big three. Regularly create blocks of training around accessory lifts. High bar, weighted dips and snatch grip deads, for 5RM – that could be an entire cycle easily
- Body build. You know you want to. Spend time working on muscular growth, which in turn, will lead to more strength
- Be perfect with your form
- Understand that a 10-year plan, is a sensible plan
Pragmatic was of Staying weak
Here are some practical tips that will help you stay where you are
- Thinking you are strong. Everyone is a weaker version of their future self
- Hang out with people who have lifted the same weights for years
- Hang out with anyone who says ‘I’m just not built to squat’
- People that say ‘being strong is young man’s game’
- Being that guy, or hanging out with that guy, who says everyone stronger than him is on the juice
Hopefully some of this article helps. I sincerely hope your lifting career is long, fruitful and ends with you being the strongest guy in the gym. As lame as it sounds, you just have to believe its inevitable.
About the author
Andrew Jansen is the co-founder and a director of DBS Barbell.
He has competed in equipped and raw powerlifting, and in Strongman comps.
His current best lifts are raw 237.5kg squat, 172.5kg bench and 290kg deadlift at 105kg bodyweight.
You can find DBS on facebook.com/DBSBarbell or instagram.com/dbsbarbell/