Quick Tip #12: Five Things that Should NOT be in Your head as You approach a loaded bar!

By: Brian Carroll

Read other “Quick tips” HERE

1. I can’t lift that much weight. I am not strong enough for this. You already won’t make the lift, because you’re a pussy; this is a given if your thought process tells you the previous. This should be plastered on every gym worth a damn around the world. If you are second guessing your ability to smash a weight, especially near your max, then it’s probably not a good idea to get under the bar. We all have bad days, but if you are a pussy more than a fighter when under the bar, you might should find a different hobby entirely. We all know the self-proclaimed paper champions that are completely terrified of big weights under the hot and bright lights. They get mind-fucked every time they are at a meet. It is fun to talk about it and look hardcore to those who are fooled. The ones that ‘get it’ see past the façade they are presenting to you.

2. Fear of getting hurt. I’m going to get hurt (again). This will hold you back from anything great. We’ve all been injured, some more than others. You have to get over this sensation of fear and past injuries. Getting hurt is going to happen, and thinking about it all the time will most likely make it happen more often. Overcoming is what life is about. If everything was easy, this world would suck. Some people come back from severe injury and succeed, some do not. Some of this is luck of the draw, but a lot of this is mental fortitude. It is your job to make it happen against all odds, with smart training and confidence.

3. Do not be casual, ever. Dr. Stuart McGill HAMMERED me about taking things too lightly in my approach to the bar. Thought process like this should never enter your head: This weight is light, I don’t need to be locked in, I got this easy, this shit is just a warm-up. Westside Barbell is one of the most popular training systems in the world. Lou has the strongest gym in the world. He is credited with the term max effort for their heavy work. I’ll take this a step further; everything we do in the gym HAS to be MAXIMUM EFFORT, THE INTENSITY IS THE VARIABLE, NOT THE EFFORT. DO NOT COAST WITH ANY WEIGHT. This is a huge mistake people make. You want to be confident when approaching a light weight, but all across the world, people get hurt daily lifting tiny weights. The day you take a weight lightly, and are high stepping before you’re in the end zone, will be the day a weight severely injures you. Always be aware of what you are doing and know that getting under a bar is dangerous. Risk is what makes taking huge weights and smashing them feel so rewarding! At the same time, don’t get so amped up that you lose your composure and change your game plan, or accidentally touch someone’s sweating back as you shove them when approaching a max weight deadlift, and realize that your chalked hands are now slimy as you drop your PR. Too late to fix that, use your head and be aware at all times.


4. Personal drama and life situation; you know the typical problems we all have as adults. Leave this shit at the door. The strong can turn off the turmoil that is going on in their lives and leave it outside. I’m not talking about tragedy here, I am talking about shit like your boss pissed you off, you just had a fight with your girl or Chipotle didn’t give you enough chicken. I’ve been a victim of this in the past. In my first Senior Nationals meet in 2004, my girl decided to date someone else, kicked me to the curb and I let it destroy my training cycle and was completely distracted on meet day. You can use the bad crap in your life as motivation, but do not let it control or dictate your actions. This is a fine line for sure, but it is done time and time again by the mentally strong. We all have distractions and drama in our lives to certain extents, and we all have stress. Channel it and contain it. Let it out at the proper time, but only if it makes your lifting better and more focused.

5. Your pre-lifting ritual didn’t happen, time to panic. I was rushed to the meet, and I didn’t have my 5 shot venti, 2/5th decaf, espresso shot, 1 pump Vanilla, 1 pump Hazelnut, 1 sugar in the raw, with whipped cream and caramel drizzle on top, free-poured, 4 pump mocha-crapachino. Forget about your stupid pre-training ritual that may or may not have happened. This could be a certain food or a drink, a certain time period to warm-up, a talk with someone, something as meaningless as a stupid song on the radio, the list is endless. If you are mentally weak; your training session, or meet day, is crap and ruined. With that said, you should approach training sessions and meet with a certain consistency, especially with diet. Life happens!! You may not get to go to IHop and get your favorite (my favorite is Rooty Tooty Fresh N frooty) so what does this really matter? Not a damn thing; get over yourself, pussy! If you have to hit McDonald’s in a hurry and get a deluxe big breakfast instead, so be it. Does it really matter once you get under a big squat? No, it doesn’t unless you’re a fragile minded wimp. Make the most of your situations in life in general. Learn to flip the switch, and turn it on when it’s time to lift. This really comes down to mental toughness. Things will not go your way sometimes, this is when you have to be more determined than ever. You never know, your stupid ritual may end up be accidently replaced by something more efficient and productive…. Like lifting the damn weight!


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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian is a retired world-class powerlifter with over two decades of world-class powerlifting. From 1999 to 2020, Brian Carroll was a competitive powerlifter, one of the most accomplished lifters in the sport's history. Brian started off competing in bench press competitions 'raw,' then, shortly into the journey, he gravitated toward equipped lifting as there were no "raw" categories then. You only had to choose from single-ply (USPF) and Multi-ply (APF/WPC). Brian went on to total 2730 at 275 and 2651 at 242 with more than ten times his body weight in three different classes (220, 242, 275), and both bench pressed and deadlifted over 800 pounds in two other weight classes. He's totaled 2600 over 20 times in 2 different weight classes in his career. With 60 squats of 1000lbs or more officially, this is the most in powerlifting history, regardless of weight class or federation, by anyone not named David Hoff. Brian realized many ups and downs during his 20+ years competing. After ten years of high-level powerlifting competition and an all-time World Record squat at 220 with 1030, in 2009, Brian was competing for a Police academy scholarship. On a hot and humid July morning, Brian, hurdling over a barricade at 275lbs, landed on, fell, and hurt his back. After years of back pain and failed therapy, Brian met with world-renowned back specialist Prof McGill in 2013, which changed his trajectory more than he could have imagined. In 2017, Brian Carroll and Prof McGill authored the best-selling book about Brian's triumphant comeback to powerlifting in Gift of Injury. Most recently (10.3.20) -Brian set the highest squat of all time (regardless of weight class) with 1306 lbs – being the first man to break the 1300lb squat barrier at a bodyweight of 303 lbs.
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