The pursuit of strength, technical mastery or changing your body is a life long process. As our performance and body improves we will discover that perfection remains an elusive and moving target. The more we learn and improve, the more we demand from ourselves. Instead of being frustrated that perfection is out of reach, those who stay in the game learn to enjoy the journey and enjoy the process by being in the moment.
Here’s a little tip on changing your mental focus that I’ve used for years but wasn’t really aware of it until I read Dan John’s book “Intervention” which I’ve been referring to as “Sets of One”.
Instead of comparing yourself to someone else, comparing where you are with where you want to be or even comparing today’s performance to an old personal best, focus only on the rep you are about to do. For example: during a training session that calls for 100 reps such as the five minute snatch test, change your mental perspective and treat this as one hundred opportunities to practice 1 perfect rep. You’ll be more mentally engaged and instead of simply trying to survive a workout, you’ll be trying to improve your technique on each successive rep. Every ten or twenty reps change the focus to improving another aspect of your technique: for ten reps focus on packing the shoulder, during the next ten I’ll focus on a more powerful hip extension, then focus on your breathing, then focus on the timing of catching the bell… and so on. I know that whenever I use this mindset the muscle memory from the previous ten reps improves the next ten and I continue improving as the minutes go by. When the time is up I usually find myself wanting to do more. I always kid with my classes that as the 10th minute of snatches or swings approaches, the first 9-minutes was just the rehearsal. I’m only partially joking.
During the recent StrongFirst Barbell Certification in Tuscon Pavel used the term “Progressive Rehearsal” to replace the term “Warm-Up” I thought it was excellent as it described perfectly what I’ve always felt a “warm-up” or even and entire training session was supposed to be. I believe it is this sort of subtle change in mind-set that distinguishes the best of us from the rest of us. As I see it, every rep until the next one has just been rehearsal.