GPF: It Takes More Than Strength To Lift Heavy


Welcome to “Guest Post Friday”! I will be featuring posts from individuals who have solid input about the mental side of fitness, training, and life. I tend to gravitate towards witty and honest posts, that actually give you tips to help you improve. This post gives an awesome breakdown of how to attack a heavy lift (both physically and mentally).

Check out the post below written by Jake Mannion

[Editor’s Note: this post was originally posted on]

Lifting heavy is hard.  Lifting heavy without the proper mindset?  Even harder.  Everyone has such crazy strength potential that it absolutely kills us (your trainers) to see athletes miss lifts due to a lack of proper focus.  Sure, at lighter loads weight lifting is all about physical abilities.  Most guys can shoulder press 95# over their head without giving it a second thought.  Lifting at maximal loads, however, is a different story.  I doesn’t matter who you are, if you aren’t hyped, focused, and even a little nervous beforehand, successful lifts will be few and far between.


For starters, actually caring about the impending lift is a must.  If not, no trick or routine in the world is going to help you overcome your physical limitations. The mind is a powerful thing, but only if you let be.  In order to actually be better, you have to first want to be better!

Once an athlete is mentally engaged, the tips below can be used to gain a slight edge sure to elicit PRs.  Some may sound a bit quirky, but don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try ‘em.

Scream – A Jeremy Kinnick favorite and a CrossFit Kinnick staple.  Nothing gets the body and mind going like a loud scream.  Don’t worry, our box is loud-scream approved; you won’t be bothering anyone.  Heck, it’s darn near expected of you!

Foot stomp – One of my personal favorites and probably the easiest.  A double foot stomp sends a jolt of energy throughout the body.  I’ve received my fare share of strange looks for this right before moving some ridiculous weight.  Needless to say, those strange looks went away.

Chest hit – Also known as the Marky Mark (if you’ve seen the movie Fear you’ll know what I’m talking about).  Banging on the chest will definitely wake you up.  And, depending on how hard you actually hit yourself, it might even make you a bit angry.  An angry you will definitely try harder than a casual you (Note: this may be better suited for the fellas).

Head/face slap – Wake up!  I’ve tried this a couple of times, and it works.  To each his own.

Talk to yourself – A time-honored classic.  Positive self-talk can never hurt.  The box might also be the only place you can be seen talking to yourself and still thought to be perfectly normal.  Remember, whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right.

Get angry – The bar doesn’t want you to succeed.  It’s your enemy and it’s keeps you from your goals.  Be creative.  Pretend it’s an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, a former boss, or your most hated pet-peeve.

Isolate yourself – Stop talking.  No, don’t be a debbie downer, but also try not to lose sight of what you’re about to do.  Walk around, maybe comment on somebody else’s lift, sit down somewhere, but always keep your mind on the task at hand.  Fun and games can come later.  Nobody’s going to complain that you’re being too quiet during a lifting session.

Get away – Take a step outside.  Walk around a bit a get some fresh air.  Envision a successful lift (Note: screaming, foot stomping, and chest hitting may also take place while outside).  Don’t come back until you’re ready to give your best.  This is especially true if you keep missing a weight you know you’re capable of nailing.


Through no fault of their own, beginners and women tend to have the hardest time approaching heavy lifts with the proper mentality, but it’s nothing a little time and experience can’t fix.  By offering these suggestions I hope to speed up the learning curve a bit.

You might also be thinking that mental focus, as I’m describing it, seems to sound eerily similar to “acting crazy”.  You’re definitely not wrong.  Perhaps that’s why so many people are afraid to “focus” when lifting.  Are you afraid of looking stupid?  I assure you, all of us are already a little crazy for putting our bodies through CrossFit.  You can’t be afraid to let that craziness out every now and then.  Besides, your personal growth is far more important than how someone at the gym might look at you.


If you’ve been around the gym for a while now you’re probably familiar with, or have seen, many of these.  Lots of our members are using them daily and with tons of success. In fact, I invite everyone to watch a CFK trainer take part in a lifting session at some point.  You’ll quickly notice each has their own awkward/strange routine that they’ve developed over the past six years.  One thing you can always count on with them though is that no matter how whacky, or long winded, their routine might be, not one of them will miss an attempt because of a lapse in focus.

About the Author

Jake Mannion has been CrossFitting for 6 years and has been a Trainer at CrossFit Kinnick for 4 years (when this was originally posted in Oct 2013). His Certifications include: Level I CrossFit Instructor, USAW Sports Performance Coach. He earned his BA in Political Science from Cal Poly Pomona.

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