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Old 03-05-2014, 12:39 AM   #1
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This evening, I went in to squat. I typically squat on Monday rather than Tuesday, but the gym closed early yesterday. When I go into lift, I have a pretty clear idea of how many sets and reps I'll be able to hit that day. Of course, surprises come, but today was no different. I knew I had worked a midnight shift, got 5 hours of sleep, and had way fewer than 100g of carbs(I'd assume I eat up to 300g a day most days), but in my mind, my performance wouldn't be hindered.

I get to the gym, warm up. My friend tells me my form isn't as solid as normal- primarily the bar moving forward. I spent from 225-460 thinking about doing it perfect each time. My mind was no longer focused on hitting 460 for 4 or 5 reps.(5 being quite a longshot, but 4 was certainly doable) So what happened? I walked out 460. My walkout was the worst walkout I believe I've ever done. My stance was wider than normal, and the weight shifted forward a lot. 2 reps. I should have had 2 easily, but I struggled with them. Despite thinking of every minute detail I know, I squatted horribly.

Then I did 385 paused for 3x3. Form was a little better, but still bad. The only thing I had really done right at this point was keeping my knees out.

I decided to start with the bar, and go up some in weight just to get some technique work in. Bar and 135 were great. I got up to 225, and still thinking of every cue I know, I had awful walkouts and squats with it. 225! I say down, and thought of calling it a night; knowing that I could do better next week. Then, just before I stripped the plates, I decided to just squat, and think of nothing other than crushing 225. I did. 275..315.. Then 405x3 for some solid, strong reps. To hell with it, 460. As I had done in the past few attempts, all I thought of was getting tight in the set up. Walked out to my normal stance, and squatted two reps easier than the first time.

What happened? I quit thinking, and I did what I knew. I don't encourage anyone to approach a lift lightly, and without any use of brains. In fact, my last lift of the day was approached aggressively, with self-cues in my most troublesome areas. No more was I thinking "Head back, elbows down, air, step, step, step, shit I'm off balance, hips back, knees out, knees out, chest up, elbows down, elbows down..." In a nutshell, "Get tight, squat", was my thought process.

In the first round of squats, my over thinking caused awful technique, weakness, and a nearly awful day. When I decided to simply do as I always do, my squats were strong. Albeit, the top set wasn't what I wanted(4 reps), but I had already done the planned squats for the day.

I've had to learn this lesson before, and I hope I don't have to again. A couple of take away points:
1. Technique is crucial, but over thinking during the lift is harmful.
2. Getting a mentality of simply doing the lift as strong as possible will carry you very far, even when you've already fatigued yourself.

Shooting for a couple of 5 rep PR's this week. We'll see if I can't throw my thoughts out the window during those lifts.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:07 AM   #2
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Good take aways Davis. Free your mind and smash those 5 reps out.
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Old 03-05-2014, 06:39 AM   #3
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Yo will certainly have that 5 repper ... Get it next time ...
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:11 AM   #4
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Thanks for posting this.. I have been doing the same thing lately.. Thinking myself right out of getting the work done. It is frustrating as hell, I shot a video of myself squatting and then critiqued myself to death and couldn't concentrate..

Finally had to do the same as you and just keep it simple and lift.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:20 AM   #5
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The key with any big movement like that is to become so ingrain in your form that it is natural. I have a mental check list that I do as I set up and approach the bar. Once that happens my mind/motor pattern takes over. I have done so many reps that I no longer have to think about it. It just happens. That is what you experianced. You no longer need to think about it, you are doing the correct things.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:24 AM   #6
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Indeed, you have to have faith and confidence in the skills you have developed over the years, and that usually your body will just naturally deliver good form. I quickly think of a couple of form cues after unracking, then clear my mind as I focus on a spot on the wall, and then just do it.

Nice post Davis. That is how you get it done.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:43 PM   #7
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as some other people have mentioned after doing 1000s and 1000s of reps the motor patterns become so ingrained that they become natural and we do not have to really think about it anymore and when we do think about it it actually becomes a hinderance. the same can be said for other daily activities. next time you are driving and you have a passenger try to explain what you are doing to them, driving just became a whole lot more complicated
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