STEP THREE: VISUALIZATION
Visualization has been utilized by elite athletes for decades. Just watch any Olympic broadcast and you will likely see an athlete mentally rehearsing his or her entire event before the starting gun goes off. What might not be as widely known is that these athletes visualize their performances on a daily (if not several times a day) basis. An athlete is far more likely to achieve a goal if he or she has seen it achieved over and over again in their mind’s eye. A slight change to Napoleon Hill’s axiom might go… “what the mind can see, the body can achieve.”
There is much scientific support for why visualization is so ef- fective. One body of evidence suggests that visualizing certain actions produces the same neurological reactions as performing the physical act would. The mind simply can’t tell the difference between something that is vividly imagined and something that is physically occurring.
One way to improve the effectiveness of visualization is to prac- tice it under a state of hypnosis.
Hypnosis isn’t some mind control method as old movies and stage hypnotists might suggest. It is merely a relaxed state of fo- cused awareness where the critical reasoning faculty is bypassed. Under this state, positive suggestions and visualizations can go directly into the sub-conscious mind. The sub-conscious mind evaluates these positive suggestions and visualizations as real. Hypnosis is thus a powerful tool for improving the effects of visualization, removing negative beliefs, and reinforcing positive aspects of one’s game.
STEP TWO: GOAL SETTING
This step should be self-evident. There is hardly a self-help or sports performance book on the market that doesn’t mention goal setting as a critical part of the process. As crucial as proper goal setting is to peak performance, it is amazing how few ath- letes and individuals put the time into identifying, committing, acting, and monitoring appropriate goals!
There is no shortage of research studies in sport psychology that support that fact that clear, specific, and dynamic goals clearly improve performance. Goals improve motivation, self-confi- dence, satisfaction, and pride.
Appropriate goals are goals that are end-result oriented, specific, and achievable. The process should follow these steps:
• Identify a specific goal/outcome
• Create an action plan for goal attainment
• Commit to the action plan
• Work your plan
• Monitor your progress (modify plan or goal as necessary) • Attain Goal
Be as specific as possible about your goals. Playing well in an upcoming game or event is obviously not a specific goal. Write your goals down and tape or place them in an area where you are sure to see them frequently. This will help keep your commit- ment level high. You must consistently monitor your progress. This will ensure that you can make modifications to your action plan and/or your goal. Always have a time frame associated with the attainment of your goals.
Have fun with your goal-setting process. Make it a game within your game and you will find your motivation and performance skyrocket!
By Gavin Kent
How would you like a set of 5 steps, that when followed, and coupled with your physical and sport-specific training, would allow you to achieve your full potential as an athlete? Sounds pretty good, right? The 5 steps that follow will allow you to do just that; reach your FULL potential. They have all been tested over time, and are backed up by multiple sports psychology re- search studies.
None of the 5 steps have anything to do with physical aspects of training, or diet and nutrition. There are myriads of books discuss- ing those topics. These 5 steps deal exclusively with mental train- ing and conditioning. It is generally accepted that sport is up to 90 percent mental, so shouldn’t it follow that the steps to peak perfor- mance deal with the mental aspects of preparation and execution?
I start with the premise that has been expressed in ancient Vedic texts, and more recently as a major presupposition of Neural Lin- guistic Programming (NLP), that we all possess within ourselves everything we need to achieve unlimited success in any undertak- ing we choose to pursue. Success in sport and almost any other endeavor, begins and ends in the mind. The key is learning to unlock and gain access to these abilities in order to reach our full potential. Over the next 5 days we will post 5 steps will help you get started on that path.
STEP ONE: GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR MIND
Step One is “gaining control of your mind” because it must be mastered in order to reach any level of competency in the follow- ing steps. Whether it is in the battlefield, the sports arena, or the boardroom, champions are champions because they have learned to control their minds. Winning the internal battle over the mind is a necessary first step in developing an unbeatable mindset.
Without proper training and discipline, the mind is most likely to run wildly, randomly, and unfortunately, often in a self-de- structive fashion. The Buddhists have a term for this untamed mind. They call it the “Monkey Mind.” A Monkey Mind is characterized as “unsettled; restless; confused; inconsistent; in- decisive; uncontrollable.” Obviously, these are not helpful traits in developing an unbeatable mindset!
Two great methods for training the untamed mind are breathing exercises and meditation.
Breathing exercises are perhaps the easiest to get started with, and can be done almost anywhere. Belly breathing is often used to calm the mind. The method is easy. Simply sit comfortably with your hands clasped across your belly and concentrate on taking in slow, deep breathes while trying to fill your belly with air. If your hands are rising and falling with each breath, than you are doing it correctly.
Meditation is an excellent method for calming the mind and increasing awareness. It has been used for thousands of years, and is more recently becoming “main stream” as thousands of scientific studies point out both the mental and physical benefits of a consistent meditation practice. Many great books and medi- tation CDs can be found on Amazon or the various meditation sites on the web.
Anywhere you look these days, you’re bound to see images of lean, beautiful people in the media enjoying their lives and selling you every product under the sun. Our society has put the image of a svelte, toned individual on such a high pedestal that it has become an obsession for countless individuals. As a result of this, the multi-billion dollar fitness industry has exploded as so many people get in front of the mirrors in gyms across America doing bicep curls to try to look pretty. We at CrossFit Hoboken have a bit of a different goal than a great looking body—overall functional fitness.
Please don’t misunderstand me and think that I’m saying improving your physical appearance is a poor or misguided goal to have. I think it’s an excellent aim to want to lose a little fat or gain a few pounds of muscle and increase your overall level of health, and I realize that everyone who walks through our doors has a different and valid reason for doing so.
Rather, I’m saying that our brand of high-intensity workouts utilizing compound, multi-joint exercises (and not in the fashion of bicep curls with both arms) such as squats, deadlifts, and presses will lead to a much greater level of fitness and health than any circuit of machines at a traditional gym. And here’s the best part—the aesthetics will come with it. They always do. Your body will transform as you become stronger, leaner, and faster, and you’ll be developing the whole package of fitness while doing it.
The difference with our brand of training is that while training on a machine or in a way to isolate a muscle will work that muscle and make it look nice, that’s not how the human body is programmed to work. Our muscles work in concert with one another, and for the best results, that is how you should train. Training your muscles in isolation is kind of like buying a Lamborghini with a Geo Metro engine or going on a date with Paris Hilton. They both look nice, but when you go searching for the substance there’s just nothing there. That’s why you can see a big, buff guy injure himself picking up a 70 lb. box (something any of our CFH ladies can do) because he has never trained to deadlift properly.
So the next time you’re at CFH up to your neck in a beast of a workout and you happen to get a lucid moment and wonder why you’re training the way you are, just know that you are stepping closer to your goals, and in a much more effective and valuable way than those guys and gals watching TV while they leg press.
Power. You hear the term regularly in our gym. “Maximize power output” “Get Powerful” “POWER UP!” Idk but the point is you hear it a lot. Now the question is how many of you truly know where it stems from and why we use it? If you have been certified in CrossFit you will find this to be a review for you. If not, maybe it will shed some light on an otherwise under defined word.
First, lets discuss where “Power” comes from with respect to Crossfit. Years ago, coach Greg Glassman and his team decided to attempt to define not only fitness, but what methods will most effectively improve it. They deduced, through years of observation, that those that worked out with the highest level of “Power” improved the fastest across the board. This improvement was not limited to any one field of fitness but to all. If you want to improve, strength, respiratory, cardiovascular, lose fat, improve your blood work, look and feel better the answer is Power. So what is Power? Power is the same as it was when you took high school physics.
P= (Force x Distance)/ Time
So let’s think about this for a moment. We have 3 variables that can be adjusted to Create Power.
Force=Amount of Weight Moved
Distance= How Far you move the Weight
Time= How long does it take you to move it
This underlying principle quietly defines what Crossfit is. The movements commonly labeled as “Functional” are really just high power output. (ie.. they move large loads, long distances and fast)
Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Lets break this down further by comparing a bicep curl to a power clean. The bicep curl allows for a low relative weight to move about 1 foot in approximately 1 second. A power clean on the other hand allows for heavy loads to move approximately 5-6 feet in the same amount of time. Most of you will agree that doing 20 cleans can leave you completely gassed and out of breath whereas no matter how hard you try, curls will just leave your arms exhausted while leaving your heart and lungs feeling neutral.
This also helps to explain the reason for our kipping pullup. By using larger muscles and moving the same weight faster you generate more Power and thus a greater metabolic response.
The other interesting facet of “Power” is its unrivaled ability to generate a neuroendocrine response. Neuroendocrine response could be either a psychological or hormonal adaptation. A psychological adaptation could be increased ambition or confidence in ones own abilities. Whereas, the typical hormonal shift literally increases your bodies production Testosterone, IGF (Insulin like growth factor), and human growth factor. In short, exercise that utilizes high power output workouts literally mimics small dosage steroid use and this allows you to lose fat while simultaneously increasing muscle mass.
In conclusion, Power is King at Crossfit. If you want to improve your performance in every physical aspect, move heavy stuff faster than you did yesterday.