#1 Mistake You Make While Strength Training

“I don’t count my sit-ups. I only start counting when it starts hurting. When I feel pain, that’s when I start counting, because that’s when it really counts.” – Muhammad Ali

Imagine this scenario.

You’re in the gym, you’re psyched, last week you completed 3 reps of the same weight. You approach the weight with a pre-written goal of hitting 5 reps. No one is watching. It’s just you and the weight.

You pick it up – it’s heavy, but you’ve done this before and tell yourself you can do it again.

You complete the 1st rep – it was a little rough but you’re okay.

You complete the 2nd rep – yikes, that felt a little off.

You complete the 3rd rep – you’re sweating bullets, but your form was good.

You grind through the 4th rep. It was slow. Your mind wanders and says, “That’s it I’m done.”

You set the weight down, never attempting the 5th rep.

The #1 mistake you make while strength training is this: Your mind quits before your body does.

When the weight starts to get difficult they stop, quit or move on to something else.

This is when the real growth comes in.

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

We’ve learned that Grit is the passion, perseverance and stamina for long-term goals. This applies directly to strength training and performance in sport. While we would never ask someone to push past REAL pain, the burn you feel when the blood rushes to your muscles is a different kind of pain. It’s a test of your mental attitude.

Fortunately, this weakness can be trained out of you. Here’s how you can conquer the #1 mistake you make while strength training.


Building Mental Strength


The prowler is a tool that has powerful effects on the mind and body, yet it is rarely ever used for this purpose.

There’s something about pushing a prowler that produces a feeling within the body and forces people to literally push past their limits. Call it adrenaline, call it dedication, call it a survivalist’s instinct – I call it Grit. It’s a feeling that floods your brain that tells your legs to keep moving while your legs scream to stop. It’s automatic.

So if you have a prowler lying around in your gym, throw 90lbs on it and push it as fast as you can until you can’t. Then do one more. Then another. Push until you really can’t do anymore.

What if your gym doesn’t have a prowler?

Pick a low impact, low technique exercise (eg. Farmer’s or Suitcase Carry). Pick a weight that you’re comfortable with. Walk as many lengths as you can until you can’t do anymore. Take a second to catch your breath, then do a few more.

You’ll find that when you’ve completed that additional rep you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished the impossible. It’s an amazing feeling.

Runner’s call this a “runner’s high”.

This technique will build your mental durability and mental strength, allowing you achieve more in your main lifts in the gym, on the field, on the court, or on the water.


Striving for More


In my opinion, CrossFit does this well. However, strength training is not CrossFit, nor is it about continuously putting yourself in a state of extreme fatigue.

This is a mental exercise being hidden as a physical feat.

“What blocked the path now is a path. What once impeded action advances action. The obstacle is the way.” – Ryan Holiday

Strength training and performance is about striving for more. For that extra millisecond, for that inch, that pound, that step, that goal. You might not get it the first time, but you can’t beat yourself up for failing either.

Focus on building your mental strength and go finish what you set out to do.

In the end it’s about you, the obstacle, and what you leave on the table.

So make sure you leave 110%.


Photo Sources: snatchtirebench

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