5 Ways to Improve Mental Focus
This blog was written by Jake Horst, a 69kg weightlifter for Garage Strength. Jake has won national championships at Youth, Junior and Senior levels.
When going up for a big lift, or even a heavy squat in training, all that should be running through your mind is making that attempt. A lot of times I find myself questioning a lift right before I attempt it. It either goes good or it goes bad. If I only told myself I could do it, then it would be done. Visualization doesn’t just happen right before a lift, it has to be done on a daily basis. Before you go to bed, lay there and visualize where you want to see yourself for 10 minutes. Only good thoughts should be running through your head. Visualize yourself being a champion and achieving all the goals you have set for yourself. This is only one small step in mental focus.
2. Calm your mind in training
When training try to be as focused on that task as possible. Don’t get sidetracked by side conversations and consume yourself in them, stay quiet and focus on each attempt. When going heavy sometimes, it’s good to not focus so hard on technique. We train technical days so when it’s time to go heavy our body is ready. Don’t overthink a lift. Sometimes too much analyzing can cause you to think too much and overcorrect. Just realize the problem that has to be changed and fix it. Don’t let thoughts of failure run through your head. The only thing you should be thinking about is making that attempt. I challenge myself by trying to turn off my mind on big attempts. This is something I still struggle with today as I am very scatterbrained. This is one of the big factors to why I am not as successful as I want to be, but as I grow as a person, I will grow as an athlete and learn to develop this form of mental focus.
3. Your body's recovery
You feeling good physically won’t only positively affect your body’s performance, but it will positively affect your mental performance. It’s hard to feel like crap and mentally feel strong. The more you take care of your diet and recovery on the physical side, the more your mentality in training will be positive. A lot of the times feeling beat up is mental. Try talking yourself out of a bad day with positive mental feedback. We know our bodies can perform well after being really beat down. So if you never tell yourself you are feeling tired, you might not feel tired! I challenge myself everyday by finding time to do these things. Protein intake is a huge factor in how my body performs. I took my daily intake from 150 grams of protein to 210 grams of protein and noticed a huge difference in how I felt. I like to think of the human body as a Ferrari. You would never put the lowest grade fuel in a Ferrari, so why put the lowest grade fuel in your body?
4. Breathing methods
The Wim Hof breathing method is something I started using to help control my mind. This is a way to clear your head after and before a lifting session to then better focus on the task at hand. I challenge myself everyday with finding time to do these breathing drills. It’s not hard and will not take a lot of time out of your day. Once in the morning and once at night is key to mental success. The breathing fills your body with oxygen, only allowing thought of air to run through you. It calms your nerves and makes you feel like anything is possible. It was hard for me at first to believe in a breathing method. I never thought breathing would help me be successful at my sport. Once I started doing breathing drills, I noticed a dramatic difference in my body and mind and will now always practice my breathing.
Nothing will ever beat being positive. I have a lot of things I could feel sorry for myself about, but once you look further into it everyone does. The more you remind yourself of failure the more you will fail, and the more you remind yourself of success the more you will succeed. Most situations can be handled with positive thinking. I used to find myself saying that I couldn’t hit an attempt and later discovered that if I think positively, the outcome will be a lot better. I challenge myself by trying to bring positivity from everything, even missing. I can positively reinforce myself after a missed attempt by looking at my technique because the closer I am to perfect technique the closer I am to hitting that weight.