Updated: Dec 11, 2018
If you think that what you do in the gym is the only thing that effects your performance, you might be missing out an extremely important part of being an athlete.
Our Two Sides
There seems to be an underlying theme that most coaches touch on with their athletes. Living a lifestyle that parallels their effort in the gym. If you give everything you have in the gym, only to return home to smoke cigarettes and drink beer, you are taking 1 step forwards and two steps backwards. Sure you might be ahead over someone who just takes three steps backwards, but you are limiting your potential by only thinking of your personal success in the gym.
High performance athletes understand that their life in the gym is directly connected to their life outside of the gym. If they are in conflict to each other, your progress will be minimal, like a constant game of tug-o-war, yes you feel like you are exerting effort, but your aren't making any significant progress towards your goals.
So, how can we make progress inside and outside of the gym?
In order to make extraordinary progress towards our goals, we have to start lifting mental weights as well as physical ones.
Research of high performance athletes has shown that they work on their mentality just as much as they do their physicality. More importantly they know that they are connected with one another, understanding that they both contribute directly to to their performance.
So what do I mean by mental work? Broadly speaking I'm talking about what we do to strengthen our mental process in a way that directly contributes to physical performance. For example, if you are a Boxer, when you throw a jab, there are two parts to that movement. The jab starts within your mind and ends by physically orchestrating your body to mimic what it envisions, the perfect jab. The issue is that it happens so fast that we fail to recognize where the body gets the information on how to throw a jab, in your mind.
If your mental picture of a jab is foggy and general, your body will throw sloppy jabs. That's because isn't getting it the information it needs to actualize it correctly.
This is where our mental work comes into play.
The Importance of Visualization
It is just as important that you have a crystal clear idea of what the perfect jab looks like. That way, our body knows exactly what to do, perfectly, every single time the mind calls upon it. This doesn't happen over night. We must take time every day to envision the technique we want to acquire. By closing our eyes and picturing the perfect jab, step by step, starting with the situation in which we believe the jab is the appropriate technique to apply, and ending with the exact jab that fits that situation. We increase our mental capacity to bring forth that jab when we see it in real life.
By envisioning that jab, we increase our mental strength, but just like physical strength, one rep isn't going to make much difference. We have to repeat the process again and again until it becomes easier, and almost unconscious. We want to get to the point where we don't think of jabs vaguely, but an exact picture of exactly what is needed. Only then can our body follow with the perfect jab.
By both working out mentally, and physically. We gain a significant advantage over anyone who only works out in the gym. So the next time you leave the gym, or before you get to it. Take 15 minutes and envision one technique that you want to perfect, repeat the complete vision of what it looks like in action, and notice the difference when you get to the gym!