Invictus Athlete, Lalo Torres, drops a successful lift in competition from overhead.

Weightlifting Mental Hurdles – ATTACK Them, Don’t IgnoreThem!
Written by Jared Enderton

There are more mental hurdles encountered when lifting than we can probably count. However, I’m just going to bring up a couple of the most common ones I’ve seen and some counters to combat them.
Mental Hurdle Number 1
You have already made your mind up whether you can make or miss the lift when the bar is only a few inches off the ground. Your body gives you feedback and you either think “OH NO CHANCE” or “Oh yeah I got this.” How? Your body gave you feedback and you either put the governor on so to speak, or you decided you can make it and attack with reckless abandon. Don’t believe me? How about your back squat or front squat 1RM…By the time you even start to descend in the squat you already know 100% whether you’re going down with the intent on ATTACKING it – or – you just go down and catch a small bounce while knowing you were going to bail from the second you unracked the bar. Ha! Now you believe me. I’ve been there hundreds of times.
Try this:
ATTACK the unracking of the bar (back squats, front squats, split jerks, etc) like it’s a 1RM in itself. Take a huge breath, brace, and get AGGRESSIVE! Too often we are trying to conserve energy when unracking to save it for the lift. But that in itself can cause a lazier mindset and can make the bar feel WAY heavier because we aren’t braced properly AND we aren’t in an aggressive mindset of attacking the bar yet! Again, an analogy to prove I’ve been there with you before – Ever done snatch pulls or clean pulls around 90-100% of your max? Ever think HOW IN THE WORLD DID I EVER SNATCH OR CLEAN THAT? It’s because of your mental arousal level! You are nowhere near peak mental arousal so you don’t have the same muscle fire rate or aggressiveness. So, attack the unracking of the bar as a lift of itself and I bet your next 1RM attempt will go much differently!
Mental Hurdle Number 2
The lift right off the ground getting in your head or its “feeling heavy today.”
Try this:
Dial in your start position! There are several things you can do to get into a STRONGER start position where the weight distribution is more advantageous. I go into detail about that here in this video. By dialing in your start position, the bar is closer to our center of mass, and, when you lift the bar, you can make the combined center of mass between YOU and the BAR shift more into YOU. AKA you can win the tug of war and naturally the bar feels lighter because you’re starting in a better position and not allowing the bar to pull you forward right away!

Mental Hurdle Number 3
This one is a bit out there so bare with me. Something I started doing 6-7 years ago was fully acknowledging the days I didn’t feel great and when the bar felt heavier early on.

Try this:
Instead of running from it, embrace it. I have a mental thing I do to convince myself to give it a REAL shot (not to just make it look like I actually committed to the lift haha). I simply make a “flipping a coin” gesture with my thumb before a lift. IF the lift before it felt maximal, the next lift I know may get in my head. So to take the pressure off and to EMBRACE the fact it might not feel achievable, I lighten my mood before the lift and say “flip a coin.” What that means in my head is there’s a 50/50 chance this feels too heavy, but dangit I am fully committing to it anyway! That way when that bar is a few inches off the ground and everything is telling me no – I have already thought through that process and it allows my brain to override that negative feedback. If you watch the 2018 CrossFit Games Clean & Jerk ladder – you can see me doing it before the last two barbells as I approach them. It’s a bit funny looking haha, but it works for me!

Invictus Weightlifting Program

Is Olympic lifting something you want to get stronger at – whether it’s physically or mentally? Check out the Invictus Weightlifting Program with Coach Jared Enderton. With this program, you’ll receive either 3-days or 5-days a week of programming, plus access to our private Facebook group where you can upload videos to be reviewed and receive feedback from the Coach himself. Start today and see improvements tomorrow!

In-House Invictus Weightlifting Competition

Notify me of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top