Today's post is about something that each of us can do right now that will get us better results from our training. This applies whether you are doing our training, your own, or someone else’s. Your mindset and how you approach each and every rep is often the missing ingredient that separates the athletes who lift and only get stronger, from the ones who transform their athleticism. Today’s post is all about intent.
Being in the Moment
Focused intent is the ability to be in the moment and dialed in. Let’s take a typical squat workout for example. Most will see a programmed set for the day, of let’s say 4x5 with 80% load. They will load up the bar and simply do the lifts. There is no thought of attention paid to how the do the movement. Sure they may remind themselves of their form cues, and make sure they are being safe. What I am referring to goes beyond just doing a lift with good form.
Intent is the understanding of what you are trying to accomplish. In our case, jumping higher and getting more athletic is probably our reason for lifting in the first place. So when we do our sets of squats, how we are doing them from an intent standpoint is definitely going to matter.
There will be times where the coach may have specific tempos (movement speeds), in mind. They may say to use a slow (4 second) eccentric phase (lowering) followed by a 1 second pause and a 2 second concentric (rise), for example. But, what if they don’t? What do you do then, do you give it any thought at all? Or, are you only concerned with getting the reps done. The best results will go to those who have clear intentions and give a focused effort to each and every rep. They will treat each single repetition and though it is the only that that matters. You get it, you need to be “focused”, but what does that mean? Keeping it on squats for now, let’s go though it together.
Intent Starts Before You Touch the Bar
Remind yourself what you are training for, picture you landing that dunk or spiking a ball straight down with so much force that it hits the ground before you do. Grab the bar, paying attention to centering your position. When you rise up into the bar, tension your core and back muscles, pull that bar into you tightly. Big bracing breath, unrack and step back into position. Another big bracing breath, and we descend. When we lower, we are keeping attention on our torso and weight positioning, we are being sure to keep our balance. The mind is on pulling yourself to the bottom is great position to give it your all on the way up. We hit the bottom, and without bouncing, we are trying to reverse direction as fast and aggressive as we can. The mind here is on pushing the ground away from you, and throwing that bar (your shoulders) up through the ceiling. Now that we are on our way up, we should be focused on continuing to fire harder and accelerate that bar. At the top of the lift, if you have great intent, the bar is likely to way to fly up off your shoulders, so keep squeezing that bar tight to keep it on your back. Now we retrace and get ready for the next rep.
This was just a warm up with the empty bar… I say that seriously. Intent starts right away and matters no matter the load. You have to be able to keep focus on each and every rep, all the way through a workout to get your best results. Great programming is very important, but if you don’t give each rep of each exercise the attention it deserves even great programs can lead to sub-optimal results. Meanwhile, an extremely basic, poorly designed program can still lead to results of your intent is there. You, and the way you approach training, is the most important and most overlooked key to your success with a program. Keep that in mind, refocus your efforts and watch the successes stack up.
Mindset and intent is just one aspect of the Project Pure Athlete 360 degree approach to training. All of the aspects together will help you maximize your results in the shortest amount of time.
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