“That dude is strong as an ox, he just ain’t got it between the ears.” As a coach I have heard this phrase more times than I can count. How many times do we see huge numbers in training only to have that same lifter choke on the platform? This occurrence is very prevalent, but it does not need to happen! Through the use of a few train to win principles we can hone and sharpen our competition skills.
Personal records should always be achieved during the course of a sanctioned competition, whether it be a powerlifting meet, track meet, highland games event, or strongman contest. There are three main principles that I have come up with that can help the strength athlete improve his performance on the platform, in the ring, or at the contest.
3 Keys to Competitive Success
1. Compete in practice as much as possible. When I was shotputting I would literally compete in anything I could with my training partners. If we had standing long jumps on our workout schedule, we would handicap each other based on ability and compete in the event. The winner would bring home the glory for the day (as well as a Chipotle burrito in most cases.)
This same method can be used in the weight room. If you have a prescribed number of sets and reps, have someone time you and try to lift it faster next set. Or if you are going to failure keep track in your logbook of the number of reps you got last time and try to beat that number. If you are going for a rep max, beat your previous rep record. Use your imagination, there are so many ways to compete with yourself or your training partner during your workouts.
2. Have faith in your training system. For an athlete to have success they must “buy-in” to the training system they are a part of. Even if they don’t have the best plan (or coach) the act of buying-in is powerful and can sometimes make up for the programs shortfalls. If an athlete believes that he has the best training system, come competition day, he or she is spilling over with confidence knowing that all the hard work is about to pay off. This requires you to have the confidence to program yourself or the wisdom to seek a professionals help.
3. Give your full effort each day. This kind of goes without saying, but be sure to give a full effort on every rep and every set. This optimally prepares you physically for the upcoming competition, but it also serves as a powerful mental tool come meet time. This not only applies to the actual weight room, but also to rest and recovery modalities. The biggest killer of athletic success is self-doubt. Wondering if you worked out as hard as you could have can be the nail in your competitive coffin. The athletes who know they have given full effort every workout can enter the competitive arena with supreme confidence.
One Last Tip
Keep a detailed logbook. I have logbooks that stretch back more than 15 years. Everything I did day by day is written down in them. On top of being able to look back in time and see what worked for me and what didn’t, the logbook also allows me to keep track of my personal records in every modality I have ever performed. This makes it easier for me compete against myself. The logbook is an indispensable tool in your training toolbox.