Approaching The Bar

14 Mar

I got asked yesterday what I think about right before I go for a lift. It was a rare occurrence. Someone I had never spoke to before in the gym came up to me and asked a good question. Kidding…sort of.

How you approach the bar is important. You have to be there mentally, as well as physically to execute at a high level. (Note: if it’s really heavy for YOU, it’s still a high level. If you don’t squat 600lbs this is still important!)

My mental fortitude, and ability to perform under pressure, has always been a strong characteristic of mine. Playing baseball at a high level, and my training with the military have definitely helped me work on these attributes. While in some respects I think a mental edge is something you’re born with, it definitely can be trained. As I approach my first power lifting meet, I have been careful to approach the bar in a systematical manner every set. The same way I did for the thousands of at bats I took on the field, and countless training exercises with the ARMY.

So without further ado here is my answer.

Aside from thinking about something similar to the picture below, here is what I do:

1. I do a quick check list.

Before every lift while I’m under the bar, or looking over it, I hit a check list of everything. I usually start from my hands and go down to my feet (Squat and Bench), the deadlift I approach a bit differently. I’ll put my checklist for each lift in part II.

2. I focus on my breathing, and remind myself to be patient.

It’s a little different for each lift, but between the checklist and what I’m going to talk about next, taking the correct breath, as well as taking the time to settle the weight and get comfortable assures me I am going to do well. When I’m not patient, I suck. Don’t rush things, proper set up is crucial. Hard start, easy finish. I will go over how and when I breathe in part II.

3. Right before I lift I pick ONE thing to focus on.

It’s something different for each lift, but at this point it’s always the same thing. If you’re still figuring things out, you may have a different ONE thing each time. I advocate sticking with a single cue for a whole training session though, so you can hone it in. I focus on the one thing that is the most crucial to me executing the lift well. If I do “this” right I know I am giving myself the best chance at success. I will share my top cues, as well as what my ONE thing has become in the next segment.

Stay tuned tomorrow and I will talk about my mental check list, by big cue(s), and how I breathe / stay patient.


3 Responses to “Approaching The Bar”


  1. Approaching The Bar: Part 2 « Greg Robins - March 15, 2012

    […] Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday: […]

  2. Approaching The Bar: Part 3 « Greg Robins - March 16, 2012

    […] to part 3 of this Approaching The Bar series. If you missed Part 1 and Part 2 click the links and catch […]

  3. Good Reads of the Week: Edition 5 | LaVack Fitness - April 1, 2012

    […] Patrick Ward Intermittent Fasting: Part 1 and  Part 2 – Kiefer John Approaching The Bar Part 1 and Part 2 – Greg Robins You Are Setting Yourself Up to Fail – Greg Robins Managing […]

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