From This Issue
by John McCallum (1965)
You'd be surprised at how much better you could do if you put your mind to it. You could accomplish wonders.
I took the wife to a hypnotist's show once. The posters outside showed the hypnotist as a tall, handsome man in a cape with lightning shooting from one of his eyes. We got there early and I went backstage to talk to him.
He turned out to be about five feet nothing with a nose like he was eating a banana. His dressing room was dirty and so was he and they both reeked of gin and mothballs. I asked him about self-hypnosis as a strength factor.
He looked me up and down like I'd come out of the woodwork. "Do you think, he said, "that I discuss my powers with every fool who wanders in here?"
"I dunno," I said. "Do you?"
He reared back and opened his eyes wide. We waited for the lightning to shoot out. "You have a colossal nerve, young man," he shouted. "Get out before I call the police."
I went back out front and found the wife. She leaned over and whispered, "What's he like?"
"Nice," I said. "Real nice. Reminds me a lot of your mother."
Later he came on stage and worked with volunteers from the audience. One of his subjects was a little old lady. She looked like she couldn't have peeled a ripe banana but he put her under hypnosis and whipped her with his voice and then stretched her out rigid between two chairs and a 200 pound man sat on her stomach while she held him easily.
Hypnotism, basically, is concentration to the nth degree. The subject concentrates on what he or she is told to do to the exclusion of everything else. You'd gain twice as fast if you put that kind of concentration into your training.
You can learn how to do it.
I used to work out with a lifter who was having troubles with his cleans. He was doing everything right but he just wasn't making progress. I showed him how to focus his concentration and his clean came up 80 pounds in two and a half months.
I watched him work out one day. He went through the concentration routine and then gripped the bar. He was doing high pulls in sets of five.
He started the high pulls and the palm of his right hand split on the second rep. Blood was squeezing out between his fingers on the fourth rep and dripping on the platform when he finished.
I went over and put a towel against his hand. "Gee, Harry," I said. "Why didn't you quit?"
He looked surprised. He blinked at his hand and said, "I never knew I hurt myself." There was a little blood on the platform. He dabbed at it with the toe of his shoe. "Sorry about that, Johnny," he said. "It doesn't matter, does it?"
'No," I said. "It doesn't matter. But three guys just gagged and went home and they may not come back and that matters. You better forget the cleans and start thinking about girls again."
You may not want to concentrate to the point where you hurt yourself, but most of you could stand to concentrate a lot more than you do.
Some of you don't concentrate at all. I've seen bodybuilders exercising with their minds fixed firmly on last night's date. I've seen them start a conversation in the middle of a set. I even saw a bodybuilder doing curls once and singing 'Love is a Many Splendored Thing' at the same time. He finished the tenth rep and the chorus at about the same time and grinned at me.
"Lovely," I said. "Absolutely breathtaking. You know, you got a lousy voice."
"Thanks," he said. "Most people don't like it."
"You oughta use a baton instead of the weight though."
"Why" You figure it'll help?"
"Why sure," I said. "You'll keep better time and it'll do almost as much good."
You've got to think about what you're doing. If you're not going to concentrate on your training you may as well forget it. Weight training requires the ultimate in concentration for eventual success. If you're going to lift weights, then make up your mind right now that you're going to think about them while you're lifting them.
If you've been following these articles, you should be working right now to build up your squatting poundage. Keep working on your squats but start to give some thought to extreme concentration in in your training. You've got to learn to concentrate on what you're doing to the exclusion of every other thing. You've got to learn to concentrate on the exercise you're doing to the point where you don't see or hear anything else. You've got to learn to concentrate so powerfully that you're in a state resembling auto-hypnosis. You'll progress by leaps and bounds once you learn this trick.
Unless you've been blessed with phenomenal powers of concentration at birth, there's only one way to develop this ability. That's by learning, developing and using the trick of auto-suggestion. With properly applied auto-suggestion you can develop your powers of concentration unbelievably. And with properly applied concentration you can develop your body unbelievably.
Every good bodybuilder or lifer uses auto-suggestion in one form or another. Some of them don't even know they're doing it.
Watch a top lifter preparing himself for a lift. He'll stand above the bar. He'll either look at the bar or he'l have his eyes closed. He'll stand there so quietly and for so long you'd think he'd forgotten what he came for. He's concentrating to the limit. He's picturing the lift. He's telling himself he's going to explode every ounce of power he's got. He's picturing the lift being completed successfully. He's suggesting success to himself. He's using auto-suggestion.
If you've been reading Strength and Health for a few years now, you've probably heard of York's famous "Dream Bench." Harry Paschall used to write about it once in a while. He told of York lifters sitting on the bench while they pictured lifts they were going to make some day. Most of them eventually made the lifts they dreamed of. That's a form of auto-suggestion.
Here's a little parlor stunt you can try to demonstrate the power of suggestion.
Get a set of bathroom scales. Get a volunteer to squeeze them. You may have trouble getting a volunteer. Here's where your weight training comes in handy. Tell them you'll squeeze their head if they don't. Use someone that's never trained if you can. A woman is best. Use your wife if you're married or your girl friend if you're happy.
Get her to sit down and hold the scale on her lap. Then have her squeeze them and note how far the pointer goes around the dial. Have her tilt the scales back so she can't just lean on them.
Now -- have her sit in the same position with her eyes closed. Tell her to relax for a moment while you talk to her. Tell her she is to squeeze the scales when you say the word -- "Squeeze."
Now, tell her not to mentally dispute what you're going to say to her. Tell her she must firmly believe every word you say. She's got to cooperate. She's got to be serious.
Start talking to her in a low voice. Spend about sixty seconds telling her that she has the strength of a vise in her hands. Keep repeating the suggestion to her that she has a grip of steel. Drive home this fact. Make her believe it. Tell her she's going to squeeze the scales so hard the pointer will go clean around the dial. Tell her that when she squeezes the scales she's going to crush them to pulp. Tell her that every ounce of strength she's got is concentrated in her hands. Tell her she's going to produce power in her hands she's never known before.
Keep talking like this, gradually letting your voice become loud and commanding. Work the suggestions to a peak, and then shout -- "SQUEEZE!"
Watch the pointer. It'll go twice as far as it did before.
Imagine the difference it would make in your training if you were putting that kind of exertion and concentration in every rep of every exercise you did.
You're going to learn how to do that.
Next month I'll show you the trick of auto-suggestion. You'll learn how to apply it to your training. You'll learn how to focus your concentration and strength on whatever goals you have in mind. You'll learn how to apply it to your training. You'll learn how to focus your concentration and strength on whatever goals you have in mind. You'll learn how to use your mind to develop your body. You'll learn how to make progress.