How To Improve Your Focus in the Gym, A Nowhere-Near-Exhaustive Guide

This video contains a pretty good, typical example of what I listen to from other lifters in my gym when I train. If you frequent weightlifting forums–T-Nation, bodybuilding.com, womenslifting.com, etc.–you may have seen a question posed at least semi-regularly that asks other forum-goers how they stay motivated, focused, and concentrating in the gym and in competition.

The answer to this is quite simple (actually, it’s not. At all. We’re just saying it is for this post and its topic). Just like you train your body to perform lifts with correct form and ever-increasing capacity for weight loads, you can also train your mind to block out such nuisances as guys trumpeting how macho they are at a frequency, both in terms of sound volume and in number of times of occurrence, that blows away what might be considered reasonable levels. That’s right–with a little practice, you can withstand barrages of bro behavior and its potential to be a distraction from your training. How do you get this practice? You lift in my gym, or a gym like my gym, which is basically most larger university gyms.

Over Thanksgiving, I trained in three other gyms than my usual university gym. These gyms were all less populated, two of them much less so, than I’m normally used to at this point. It was a welcome change in environment to experience less of the activity described above. That said, the activity described above and one’s ability to ignore it even when one is going out for a damned hard set can be useful in the long run. The more you can condition yourself–and again, I’m referring to mental conditioning here–to deal with less than ideal conditions in a lifting space, the better prepared you are to navigate some element in a meet environment that might really throw other lifters when competing. Meets are noisy, crowded, loaded with stimuli. They are not sheltered spaces, and if you need that to concentrate in order to pull off big PRs, you might want to think about actively introducing yourself to obtrusive/annoying/difficult training situations in order to prepare for the unknown in a meet. Because there will be unknowns. Maybe it will be babies crying, maybe it will be people doing weird things on warm-up benches next to your warm-up bench, who knows. What I’ve learned from having to put up with a gym literally filled with lifters who at best usually look like they’re vaguely invested in their training and at worst are seriously rude terrors is that I cannot let what people are doing in there distract me. Ever. It’s hard. We laugh about things we have to hear in there all the time. I might even be doing so in the above video. But ultimately, it’s actually something I’m thankful for. Dealing with emotions when lifting is huge, and perhaps an underrated aspect of lifting that deserves more consideration in training articles. Most people who know me tolerably well would probably say, if pressed, that I tend towards being more reactionary than the average individual. That, of course, is understatement. But I have to actively put that trait aside every time I lift. The more I can succeed at this, the better my training will be. I’m still learning this lesson, and I’ll probably keep getting entertaining things in lifting videos to laugh at as I do.

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A Powerlifting Pilgrim’s Pulling Progress, 245 lb Edition

Yesterday I worked with 245 lb for my for deadlift work sets. I did warm-up work, then three sets of 245 doubles (easy) then had to AMRAP (this acronym, for those of you who are not lifter freaks, means “as many reps as possible”) my last set. AMRAPing a deadlift set is a new experience for me–I did 230 for 6 last week and really haven’t done very much of it prior to that. In general, my deadlift training has only recently been honed to having a deadlift-dedicated day in my workout schedule. My body has strengthened and adapted to greater volumes in deadlift training to the point where this scheduling is something my back can handle. I really enjoy having a day I get to come in and focus solely on pulling (as opposed to having to handle both squatting work and deadlifting on the same day, which was fine, but I would prefer to reserve my back’s strength for either one endeavor or the other on a given training day).

The set depicted in this video is my AMRAP set. Yes, you can see some roundness happening in certain areas of my back during this set. Pay attention to the lower, lumbar region of my spine–it remains relatively straight throughout the movement. My style of pulling seems to incline towards some mid-to-upper back rounding, and at this point, I’m okay with that. The day after pulling, I’m rarely that sore if at all. I’m sore right now, but mostly from other things I’ve been doing in workouts (modified ultra-wide-grip pull-ups, ab-wheel rollouts, blah blah blah), but my lower back is quite content. I keep the bar generally close to my hips as I pull upward, and the bar travels in a straight path up until the fifth rep, when I do something a little weird and that bar looks like it was closer to the left side of my body than the right.

Overall, pretty good speed, pretty solid barpath, and a few guys doing some staring in the background. I think next week I’m doing heavy pulling singles for my pre-AMRAP work sets, so hell yeah, I’m excited about that.

My other two lifts have actually been going pretty well in the training I’ve done since my meet. I continue to refine my bench, and I have been digging deep to get to the 190+ squat I WANT. We’ll see where things go in the next two months.

You People Are Into Some Weird Stuff/Fetishes, Powerlifter Edition

As a female lifter, I’ve periodically run across the concept of fetishization of muscular women. I more typically run across the opposite of that sentiment; I’ve listened to/read commentary that lables muscular women as, at best “masculine” and, more often, “freakish.” Today, I’m going to explore the strange and shadowy world of dudes online who obsess over women with muscles. Actually, I’m not, to any great extent. If said dudes have a fetish for lady muscle, that’s great. I guess. I mean, yeah, it’s great. Yeah! Have your fetish! Fly the freak flag et al! But every once in a while I realize that I’m being targeted as a object of the fetishization in question, and every once in a while I think that maybe this fact deserves a blog post of its very own, and every once in a GREAT while I actually write a blog post so this is what you’re getting today: a post about the search terms people have thrown into google and found my blog as a result of their queries. As a member of wordpress, I am able to view basic statistics regarding how many people view my site on a given day as well as what search terms are being used that bring in traffic. The following images depict what my current search term roster looks like. Note that the following images have numbers and commentary poorly applied by my shaky mouse-finger in a graphics program. Look below the images for further commentary on enumerated terms.

1. So there’s some sort of fetish involving chicks with boobs…wait for it…AND biceps. Wow. Unfortunately for those into such things who stumble across my blog, I have only one of the two necessary attributes to be an object worthy of this fetish-holders focus. I mean, okay, I have boobs. But come on, not really, have you seen them?

2. I think this is evidence of interests that sparked the abovementioned search term’s google entry.

3. This has nothing to do with biceps/boobs/fetishizing strong chicks, but man, that’s appetizing. And what the hell, I’m pretty sure the word “sludge” appears nowhere in this blog’s history up to now.

4. FAVORITE SEARCH TERM OF ALL TIME. We can all go home now.

I couldn’t get a screencap of the entire list at once so I had to take three. Here’s the next series of search terms that brought up my blog, also enumerated.

Notice a few things here: gorilla arms. I’m not the only one that realizes I have these. The question is, what else about me is also gorilla? Possibly toenail length.

5. SECOND FAVORITE SEARCH TERM EVER I don’t even remotely know what this one means. Hairtostay–is this a hair growth thing? I bet it IS. Why did someone looking for a hair loss product actually click on a link to my blog when they pulled it in their search results? Dumbass.

6. Yep, Kyle’s pretty awesome and this dude obviously knows that. That said, am I sitting here detailing Kyle’s training on this blog? Do you see me doing that? No. You see me admitting to having horrendously long toenails and subjecting my poor boyfriend to them, though. Kyle, the fact that you see my overgrown nails/caterpillar neglected eyebrows/my weird relationship with my Foreman Grill and my blender is a strange, indirect signal of my love for you. I swear. It makes sense to ME, anyway.

And the third and final screencap. Notice continuing terminology trends:

Alright, I forgot to assign a number to that second term in that image, but male. Powerlifters. Cumshot. I don’t even know. How did this lead this searcher to my blog? Where did I ever have that third portion of this search term appear in this blog, ever? I do not need to use the term cumshot in conjunction with powerlifting. No one needs to use the term cumshot in conjunction with powerlifting. My computer agrees–it’s telling me cumshot is not a word. Oh, innocent computer.

7. My triceps are weak, but my biceps bring in the views. Wtf.

8. See the intro to this blog.

9. See #8.

Notice the very last search term. This confirms it. No one gives a shit how you train unless they train. Do I keep a log of my training numbers? Yes. Do I post it here with the delusional conviction that you people are going to find it fascinating? Hell no. You want boobs and biceps or crazyass deadlifting so you can tell me my form needs work or whatever.

So here you go. No boobs. Biceps. Next question.

Taken a day before the October 27th meet. I think I’m going to take physique shots before each of my meets in the future.