I think we can all agree that lifting weights can be incredibly empowering. Whether you’re male or female the battle between you and the weight is very rewarding. However, no matter how much of a badass lifting makes us feel moving big weights takes confidence. Whether you’re getting under a heavy squat or setting up to rip a PB deadlift off the floor you must have belief in your abilities and strength for it to happen.
With all lifts, there is a perceived stress attached to it. The bigger, more complex or newer the lift is the higher that stress tends to be due to fear of the load, fear of the lift due to lack of confidence in your technique or being an inexperienced lifter and fear of potentially getting injured.
This perceived stress will always be higher with the Big 3 (Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift) than it will be for a Bicep Curl or a Lateral Raise due to the above factors. The perceived stress with these lifts lowers confidence and often causes fear of a lift.
So how do you combat this fear, increase confidence and keep progress moving forward?
As a Coach my first strategy is no-brainer.
1) GET A COACH
This isn’t a shameless plug to boost business.
If you want to master anything in life the fastest way to do it is to get guidance from someone who has the knowledge and experience to help you achieve it.
Having a Coach teach you how to lift properly, program the appropriate lifts and progressions for you and monitor your progress every step of the way will do more for your confidence than anything else you can do.
Receiving technical feedback whether in-person or via video submission from a Coach is invaluable. Getting your technique right and the lift feeling good rather than looking like a dog pooping on a lawn when deadlifting for instance is crucial. Knowing your technique is solid boosts confidence no end as it reduces the perceived stress of injury and just allows the lift to feel right.
A coach will take you from a Dog pooping on a lawn to a Deadlift machine faster than going it alone or using YouTube as your Coach.
2) SHIFT YOUR MINDSET
We’ve had it drilled into us that the Back Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift are the most important lifts to be doing and if we aren’t doing them we’re failing and won’t make as much progress without them. This puts a lot of pressure on people to attempt these lifts when maybe they shouldn’t be.
Yes, the Big 3 often allow us to move the most weight granted but if they’re not suitable for your goals, abilities, limitations and confidence they’re likely to do more harm than good.
It’s time to shift your Mind-set.
There is nothing that says you MUST do the Big 3. If they currently cause you a lot of stress or hurt your confidence then there are several other exercise variations that will allow you to be successful and will help your lifting confidence increase.
The Back Squat is just a bilateral Squatting pattern. Other bilateral Squatting Variations include:
- Front Squat
- Goblet Squat
- Plate reaching Squat
- Double Kettlebell Front Squat.
One of these variations may suit your abilities better and allow you to train with a better technique.
The Bench Press is just a bilateral Horizontal Pushing pattern. Other bilateral Horizontal Pushing Variations include:
- Push Ups
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Single Arm DB Bench Press
- Floor Press
One of these variations may allow you to challenge this movement pattern better as you have more confidence with it.
The Deadlift is just a bilateral Hinge pattern:Other bilateral Hinge Variations include:
- Trap Bar Deadlift
- Rack Pull
- Romanian Deadlift
- Kettlebell Deadlift
One of these Variations may allow you to put yourself in a position to be more successful due to movement, mobility or flexibility issues that you may have.
Once you’ve let go of the notion that you MUST do the Conventional Big 3 you can select a Big 3 that is more suitable for you based on your:
So, your Big 3 might be:
- Goblet Squats
- Push Ups
- Romanian Deadlifts
If we select appropriate lifts based on where you are right now this will reduce your perceived stress and fear factors allowing you to feel more confident with your lifts.
If you’re more confident you will own it!
If you’re more confident you’ll push yourself harder and use more challenging weights because you’ll feel as though you own the movement pattern. This will allow you to maximise your training.
Now if you’re like some of my clients you’ll be keen to learn the conventional Big 3 so my job as a coach is then to bridge the gap between those lifts that you have high confidence with and those that are maybe new or that you have low confidence with.
Enter Skill Work – otherwise known as Lifting Practice.
3) SKILL PRACTICE
Yes, that’s right, you’re going to practice lifting during your training week. People often forget that lifting technique is a skill and like all skills, if you wish to master it you must put in the time to practice that skill.
Now don’t worry, you do not need to spend your entire training week working with light weights focusing just on technique. We still want you to clang‘n’ bang the iron, we’re just going to start each session with some skill practice straight after your warm up and before your main strength/lifting series.
For skill practice lifts I personally like to use the each minute on the minute approach (EMOTM). It keeps the work focused and ensures it doesn’t eat up too much time into the training session.
For those of you who have never experienced EMOTM lifting it’s where you perform a certain number of reps every minute on the minute for a particular period of time with your rest being the amount of time left after completing the reps before the next minute starts.
Over time all this movement practice will pay off and your skill and confidence levels will increase with the conventional Big 3 but whilst you practice them it’s important you still push your own individual Big 3 to progress your training. Own those movements, refine your technique and get as strong and as confident as you possibly can.
4) VIDEO YOUR LIFTS
As often as possible!
Videoing your lifts has more value than just content to post on Instagram. It allows you to check your form each set in the absence of a Coach’s eye on you. Once recorded play the video of your previous set back during your rest period. You may see something that looks off with your technique and this allows you to correct it next set improving your lifts for the day.
You may also, and this has happened to me so many times, have a lift feel slow and downright crappy. If you’ve videoed that lift often you’ll view it back and be surprised that it moved well and doesn’t look bad at all. Seeing this will boost your confidence going into the next set. Ultimately, you’ll attack the next set with renewed confidence, technique will feel better, the weight will feel lighter and it’ll usually move faster.
All of this just from watching a video of your own lift. If you’re recording it for content great, but also use it for something more rewarding than just likes; technique and confidence improvements are worth a lot more.
So that’s it;
1) Get a Coach
2) Shift Your Mind-set
3) Skill Practice
4) Video Your Lifts
4 simple strategies you can use to help develop your lifting confidence so that fear of an exercise doesn’t stop you from progressing towards your goals.
As always folks please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at [email protected]