A glimpse into the mindset of Gary Helmick

A handful of people have come up to me recently asking about how I push myself in a workout when it really starts to suck. You know, those times when everything gets a little fuzzy and your not sure if you can go any faster or further. I could answer this a couple different ways, but here is what works for me. 

First, I focus a lot on positive self talk. It is very easy to let negative thoughts creep in your mind during a nasty workout. We have all done this before and still do it every workout I'm sure. Here are some examples of thoughts that can run through my head during a workout...

- "You didn't drink enough water last night or this morning so your probably dehydrated. That's why this hurts so bad and your not performing well."

- "You just squatted the other day so your legs are sore and not strong at the moment."

- "You can't breath because your mouth is full of spit which is making it even harder to breath."

- "You ate that ice cream last night and now the sugar is just attacking your muscles and your blood sugar sucks and it's messing with your Pythagorean Theorem! ...and you may die" 

And the list goes on and on and on. 

That's why when I find myself wondering into this "bad place" of a workout, I do my best to replace the negative thoughts with a positive ones ASAP. It really goes a long way. Everyone should have their own personal positive self talk approaches. Here are couple examples I might say, but most of mine are rooted deeper and more personal. Whether I tap into the competitive side or the spiritual side, I have things that only work for me and you should too.

My number one thing I say is definitely, "The pain is temporary and it WILL go away." Sometimes it takes five minutes after the workout, sometimes it takes thirty, but when it's all said and done, I am back to normal living out my day. I used to really get discouraged with myself. Workouts would hurt so bad and I would think, "There is no way I can do more." After I recovered, I would have regrets about how I could have done better. That's when I realized that I never want to hold back and have those regrets again. Just deal with the pain and it will be gone soon. 

Here are some other examples of self talk you can use:

"I can keep moving."
"I put it the work to get here, I can do this."
"I,m not tired, I have more left in me."
"I can always do one more rep."

Unfortunately, some of you may not like this answer, but you need to have a willingness to want to suffer a little bit. I think the biggest difference between some athletes in this sport, is there willingness to be uncomfortable. Can you do sets of toes to bar or front squats when you can't breath and everything hurts? Are you the person that rests and chalks until the pain goes away, catching your breath and feeling comfortable again before jumping to, or picking up the bar?

There are a bunch of other factors that go into performing well in a given workout. This is just touching on a little part of the mental approach. Visualization is impactful as well. I visualize myself doing certain reps or predicting how I will feel at certain points of a workout. That way, when I get there I am not shocked, surprised or scared. Obviously, things don't always workout as predicted so it's even more important to be mentally strong and stable. You brain is a muscle and just as you train the body you should train the mind, just as often and just as intesnsly. 

Hopefully this has shed some light into the importance of sharpening the mind. Don't get me wrong, I have been mentally weak plenty of times in workouts. I also try to learn from each of those experiences and turn it into something positive.

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