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3 Expert Tips to Improve your Mental Game for Olympic Weightlifting

Raise the bar.

Time to learn how to improve your mental game for Olympic weightlifting.

Mental preparation is one of the most frequent questions at my seminars. As soon as it arises, I know for sure that there is no simple answer: this topic contains too many intricacies.

Athletes wonder how to overcome the fear of heavy weights, cope with anxiety before a competition, and get the courage to hit new records.  

Aleksey Torokhtiy 3 Expert Tips to Improve your Mental Game for Olympic Weightlifting

Psychological (or mental) preparation is as crucial as physical one. You should train not only joints, muscles, and tendons, but also your head. No doubt, psychological stability doesn’t emerge at a competition but is constantly developed at a gym.  

3 Expert Tips to Improve your Mental Game for Olympic Weightlifting

I’d like to share 3 tips on how to improve your mental game for Olympic weightlifting:

Tip 1. Perform at competitions more often to gain confidence on the platform.

Competitions are always stressful for athletes of all levels. Everyone is worried, everyone is scared – it’s OK!

The only way to cope with that is to compete. However, there are 2 points to remember: 

A. The less experience you have, the more often you should take part in competitions.

Beginners (with up to 2 years of training, especially young athletes) can perform every 3-5 weeks; experienced weightlifters (more than 2 years) – 6-8 times a year; advanced athletes (more than 4-5 years into weightlifting) – around 4 times. 

B. A competition is NOT an attempt to set a personal record.

A common mistake among newbies and often even coaches is to think that once an athlete is on the platform, they must bust a gut to perform at 103%.

Yes, in another reality we all strive for that though it is not always necessary.

Use competitions to learn how to go six-for-six on a regular basis, get used to a stressful environment and “the pace” of such events.

Therefore, it is not reasonable to constantly push an athlete towards new records. Sometimes, it’s better just to feel the vibe and accrue competition experience.  

I share more details on this topic in my book Competition Day – X.

Tip 2. Improve your Mental Game for Olympic Weightlifting, Trick your “Glass Ceiling” 

Athletes tend to impose some limits on themselves and dread breaking them even if their muscles are completely ready.

My coach used to call it “a glass ceiling”. Personally, I’ve stumbled across 3 such ceilings at different stages of my career, and all in the snatch: 100, 132,5 and 180 kg. Don’t ask me why – I have no idea)))

The best strategy is to trick your “glass ceiling” with the help of particular methods and exercises. 

There are various solutions: 

– Lifting lighter weight for more reps. 

– Choosing “more comfortable” positions for an exercise: the high hang snatch or the snatch from blocks. 

– Using straps.

– A good way to gain confidence in the snatch is to boost the Snatch Push PRESS up to 110-120% from 1RM: holding a new heavy weight overhead makes you more confident. 

– Split the clean and the jerk to lift records separately and then put everything together. 

One of my friends couldn’t snatch 100 kilos till he lifted 95 kg for 6 reps. 

Another one always arranged a PR session in the snatch from blocks and only after that lifted from a platform. 

The third one used to do the jerk behind the neck before a PR session in the clean & jerk. 

My problem throughout my whole career was the snatch confidence. In peak condition, when I snatched 200 kg, my Snatch Push PRESS was 240. It was kind of a psychological relief. 

Tip 3. Get Used to “New-Big” Numbers. 

Any weightlifting result is measured in numbers. Thus, their magic as well as the competition barbell strongly affects all athletes.

It happens that a new weight becomes both a dream and a serious obstacle. It can be a particular number that makes your heart beat faster or additional plates on a bar. For example, 100 is a turning point for most athletes: first, in the squats, then in the clean & jerk, and finally in the snatch. The same happens with a competition barbell: for example, snatching red plates, then two pairs of them, and so on.   

In my opinion, the best way to cope with “new-big” numbers is visualization.

Set your dream weight on a cellphone or laptop screen, and hang a poster above a desk or bed. In the national team, we used to hang a paper with numbers on the wall near our working platform and write it on every page of a training diary. 

Finally, you should teach your brain that these “new-big” numbers are not something that causes panic, fear, or sends your pulse to space. It is your inevitable future or, perhaps, even present. 

And when my athletes ask what is the best short phrase to improve your mental game for Olympic weightlifting, I answer right away: Warm Body – Cold Mind.

Learn More: Improve your Mental Game for Olympic Weightlifting

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How to set new Squat PBs

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