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Fearing The Weights?


Fearing The Weights?
Written by Former Invictus Coach Sage Mertz

If I had to pick the two questions that I have been asked the most in all my years of coaching, they would be:

Question #1: “How can I fix my snatch”?

Question #2: “What can I do to get past my fear of the weights”?

The answer to Question #1: That’s what she said.

The answer to Question #2 takes a little more time to cover.

The first, and most important thing I have to say about fear is that you’re not alone. If you think you’re the only person in this world that is scared when they walk up to a barbell, then you need to find better and more honest friends.

Fear is one of the most natural feelings human beings can experience. It’s our bodies way of warning us when we’re about to walk out of our comfort zone. But instead of letting that fear flash red “warning” signs in front of your face, you need to learn to say, “thanks for the adrenaline rush, Fear, but I got this”.

As cheesy as that sounds, it’s a perfect example of how Olympic Lifting is all about drilling the skills – that includes changing the way your mind operates around barbells.

If you’re familiar with the Burgener Warm Up (which you should be or else Coach Burgener is going to give you some SERIOUS motivational consequences), you know that during each segment of the warm up, you’re supposed to call out the purpose of the movement. For example, when you perform the “down and up”, you must call out “speed through the middle”. When you perform “elbows high and outside”, you must call out “bar close”.

We do this every single day in hopes of instilling correct muscle memory for the actual lifts. It gives us a routine, which keeps us focused on the task at hand. If we can drill our skills physically, we can drill our skills mentally.

Each time you address the weight, every movement you make towards the barbell needs to be done with a very specific purpose.

Let’s write this out Burgener Warm Up style:

Movement #1: Chalk your hands.
Purpose: Breathe in confidence (and possibly some chalk), breathe out doubt.

Movement #2: Stand face to face with the barbell.
Purpose: Visualize the end result of your SUCCESSFUL lift, which is you holding the bar over your head with a smile on your face (and possibly a back flip or a pony ride around the platform).

Movement #3: Walk up to the bar
Purpose: This is the time to recite motivational words that you love so much you’d get them tattooed on your forearm like 90% of the female population.

Movement #4: Grab the bar with purpose (and a hook grip).
Purpose: “I am in control of this weight”.

Movement #5: Lift
Purpose: You’ve successfully overcome your fear.

This is what my Dad (Coach Burgener) does when he overcomes his fears.

If you drill these mental skills, your mind will be so focused that there will be no room for fear or doubt to creep in.

This will take practice, and lots of it. But, let’s be honest… we’re all CrossFitters… and that means that we’d be willing to quit our day jobs and move into a gym if that’s what it took to get just a little bit better at something.

For more articles by Sage, check out her blog at The Sassy Sage.

Published on Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 2 Comments

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