Revamping Mental Focus: Keeping Your Eyes On The Prize

19 Apr

Herp derp.

After setting a PR for myself on squats today, I took some time to sit back and think about my updates in relation to my performance.

Is my sharing of goals and PR’s actually negatively impacting my performance at competitions?

When one sets goals and tells the world about them, you feel a sort of obligation to hold up to those standards and goals. Because if you don’t, even though the only one you are actually disappointing is yourself, you feel like others are too. And that is not good for confidence at all. If anything, it is what causes you to want to throw in the towel.

(Note: This doesn’t only apply to lifting. This can also hold true with physique goals as well.)

However, keeping goals and PR’s made around meet time hush-hush is a good way to keep focused and bring your best to the platform without feeling like you have an obligation to yourself and others to perform at a certain level. You must honor your body and you must also honor your current experience and capability level.

We are seeking progress – not perfection!

Squats especially have always been a very challenging lift for me. And though I feel great when I share PR’s with people, I am coming to find that having over-confidence in a weak area can actually hurt you this close to a competition.

If you glide through the last 6-8 weeks leading up to your competition sharing PR’s and being over-zealous, it can sometimes make you too confident and unrealistic come meet day.

Though confidence is a great thing, we must be humble as well. That way, should something go wrong for whatever reason, you are not severely dissapointed. And you also don’t look like a huge asshat for telling everyone that you were going to dominate yet didn’t come close.

Don’t be “that guy”. Or girl. (Admittedly, I have been and am rather embarrassed by it.)

It’s easy to get excited when your training starts going your way. You’re seeing big leaps in progress and it feels good to be getting somewhere. But you must remember that by becoming too excited over small feats obtained on the way to a bigger goal can really set you back both mentally and physically. While you should believe in yourself and your abilities, you should also keep in mind that you still have a long way to go, and we are constantly learning and growing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

We already tend to over-analyze a lot when it comes to training. Sometimes when we don’t get exactly what we expected on meet day, we tend to think there was something wrong with the way we were training. Most of the time it’s a mental thing. And yes, you can definitely burn yourself out prior to competing with over-confidence.

The trick here is to focus on what happens on the platform – not what happens off of it.

“What we do in the gym means shit if we can’t bring the package to the platform.” – my wise fiance


Be happy for the progress you are making, but don’t let it cloud your vision!!

So that being said, I will be keeping PR’s to myself for now to help me stay more focused leading up to this meet. Though I unfortunately already posted what I wanted to hit at this competition, in the future those goals will be kept to myself as well.

I will still be posting how I feel with my workouts, and once the meet is over I will go back to posting regular training updates. But for now, eyes on the prize, comrades!!


What helps you mentally prepare and stay focused for a competition or physique transformation?


2 Responses to “Revamping Mental Focus: Keeping Your Eyes On The Prize”

  1. Anu April 19, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    Ah, this thing about not letting others in about your goals? That’s totally my modus operandi. It’s like a charm that breaks when I let the word out that I’m gonna do this or that, and then the fact that I’m supposed to do it kinda gets me. Yea.

  2. Sam April 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Hey, long-time reader, infrequent commenter, big fan here. I LOVED and needed to hear this post as I have my first track meet of the season coming up after an injury, and I really do not want to sabotage myself by setting a time goal. In the past I’ve absolutely destroyed my performance on race day by fixating on 1/2 of a second or 1 second instead of considering the technique of the race, the effort level… all of the things that will help in FUTURE competitions. Goals are like a withdrawal from the bank… effort is like an investment, if that makes sense.

    I also know so many runners and lifters who fixate on PRs and sometimes I think it creates an artificial barrier, too. It also devalues the experience if you don’t hit the number.

    And don’t get me started on those who brag about ‘I’m going to lift this weight SOMEday’ or ‘I’m going to go sub-17 NEXT time’ and it’s like dude… put your money where your mouth is! Sometimes claiming you will do something makes you feel like you HAVE done it and you stop putting forth effort. I have an annoying friend who constantly talks about how fast he will be. Shut up, dude.

    So basically you are spot on. I read to hear about how your training feels and your technique tips; I don’t care so much what weight you’re lifting as how you’re lifting, and it is very instructive.

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