Sure, we can go ahead and blame Eminem for blessing us with arguably some of the best pump-up songs of all time.
 
Often times you see a bunch of elite athletes getting #hyped before a big game or training session, and you figure that that is the necessary ritual to make magic happen in the weight room.  
 
“I’VE GOT THIS!”  “I’M GOING TO CRUSH IT,” an athlete aggressively yells at himself in the locker room.  However, not everyone performs best with that kind of emotional arousal, AKA “mental pump-up”. In other words, Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” may be literally causing your performance to collapse.
 
There are three types of ways people go about mental preparation before a lift, check them out below:
 
I need laser focus.  Don’t talk to me, don’t distract me.  See the weight, be the weight, I am the weight. 

This is your low cognitive (emotional) arousal group.

Let’s make this lift a dance party, everyone! *Cue: “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld*

This is your high cognitive arousal group.

I’ve got this.  I can do this.  Focus, but get #hyped because I feel a personal record coming.

This is your moderate cognitive arousal group.

Most of us will fall into the moderate cognitive arousal category — you need to build up enough energy to feel unstoppable, but you also need to stay focused on the task at hand.  Not every one of you reading this will respond to cognitive arousal and anxiety the same way, though, and that is OK.  

This is where things can get tricky… You see an Insta famous bikini athlete brag about how she gave herself the best pep talk to pump herself up, today, leading to her slaying the game, and now you feel like you need to do the same.

No way, Jose.

We’re all different, and what works for you may not work for me, which is why it is very critical that we have a mental toolbox we can grab from when we’re forced to train in a gym that doesn’t accommodate how we mentally approach a lift.

Some gyms have people yelling at themselves to get ready.  Some gyms are very serious and concentrated.  So, it’s up to each of us individually to know how, and be able to practice self-talk, imagery, relaxation techniques, and goal-setting skills to cope with the arousal surrounding us.

 

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At the end of the day, when you go into a lift, it is 100% OK to be selfish and prepare the way YOU need to.  At that very moment, nothing else matters.  It is just you and the barbell.

Find what works for you and run with it.  Whether that be blasting High School Musical songs to really “Get Your Head in the Game,” or completely tuning out your surroundings to dial in and concentrate, it is all how you respond best to pressure and how your performance is positively effected by it.  So, sing songs and have a dance party, or don’t talk to anyone at all.  We’re all different.  And that’s perfectly fine.

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About The Author

NYC bound, but currently a junior at Miami University, Eileen gets through long hours of studying Public Health and Nutrition by drinking at least 4 cups of coffee a day. When she's not looking up cute animal videos on YouTube, she can be found intensely picking things up and putting them down at her school's gym. One day you will be able to pick up an issue of her health and fitness magazine at your local newsstand, but for now, check her out @simplyeileen_fit on Instagram!

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