Saturday, July 25, 2020

Mental Barriers to Progress / Body Power - Doug Hepburn (1961)

Both Articles Courtesy of Liam Tweed
Thanks, Brother! 

Tommy Kono

Mental Barriers to Progress

Most people are inclined to minimize the importance of the mental attitude in the athlete. Weightlifting is one of the few sports where the entire athletic effort takes place in a matter of seconds. For this reason the concentration, whether in training or in an actual lifting meet, must be developed to an extremely high pitch. 

I discovered quite some time ago the immediate effects that concentration has on the body. 

You have no doubt noticed that during any form of emotional stress the pulse is accelerated. This is nature's way of preparing you for immediate action, whether it be physical combat, or if you are incapable of handling the situation, flight. This speeding up of the pulse actuates and increases the flow of a powerful stimulant, adrenalin, in the blood stream. When adrenalin is present in the blood in large quantities the speed of muscular reflex and the strength of contractile tissue of the muscle itself is measurably increased. From this fact alone the reader will readily see why lifting efficiency is increased through correct concentration prior to making a limit attempt.

Realizing the unusual effects that concentrating has on the body when it it applied to weightlifting, I performed an interesting experiment. During my training routine I loaded my bar to heavy poundage while it was resting on the squat stands. I then stood away from the bar, remained motionless for a minute or so and then carefully counted my pulse just as a nurse or doctor would do. My pulse beat at this time was 85 per minute. 

I then fixed my eyes on the heavily loaded barbell and began to concentrate on the fact that I was going to press the bar overhead, after removing it from the racks, with such speed that it would fly out of my hands at the consummation of the press and go right through the roof. 

While still concentrating with all my power on this thought I slowly approached the bar and placed my hands on it just as I would if I was actually going to press it. At this point I again took my pulse and to my surprise MY PULSE WAS NOW 105 PER MINUTE. 

Here then is the physical proof of what sufficient concentration can do. In other words, if one person can take full advantage of his powers of concentration when training or in competition he definitely has an advantage over those who don't. 

Usually this stepping up of the pulse will take place naturally when lifting competitively. The degree of the excitement will, of course, depend on the temperament of the individual. Those who experience difficultly attaining sufficient stimulation, even in a contest, will benefit greatly by applying this method of self imposed stimulation via concentration. 

It is important, however, that when sufficient stimulation is attained the trainee or lifter controls this potential force so that it can be properly applied. The stimulation will cause tenseness and this can hamper lifting coordination. The actions of a hysterical person will bear out this fact, for although these persons re capable of unusual strength they have no faculty of control, and because of this usually injure themselves in some manner. 

Bear this in mind when lifting and make sure that you have HARNESSED this power. 

High stimulation will usually manifest itself in a person by fidgeting, unnecessary movement, etc. The experienced lifter, although he might feel the desire for such actions. will control this and to all outward appearances will appear calm and relaxed and in this state will conserve and focus his energy for the all otu effort when the time comes to lift. 

Few persons realize the value of this conserving of energy and the application of such to weightlifting, bodybuilding, or for that matter any endeavor. Avoid over-excitement, as this can cause tension which in turn will deplete one's store of potential nervous energy. 

Many authorities believe that tension is one of the greatest killers and causes of sickness that exist today. Inability to sleep, poor appetite, loss of weight, fatigue, etc., can be traced to nervous tension. Overtraining, improper diet, insufficient rest and relaxation will inevitably result in muscular staleness. If this condition is not removed and is allowed to continue, serious complications will arise. 

You have no doubt heard the expression used, "I am afraid that poor John has burned himself out." This term is commonly used when referring to athletes, especially those who are involved with extra-strenuous activities like boxing, running, rowing, etc. Luckily, weightlifting is a sport where the athlete undergoes physical effort for spaced short periods of time. For example, the clean and jerk is performed in a matter of seconds after which the lifter is given time to rest and allow the bodily functions to return to normal. 

Correct mental attitude and training procedure will eliminate the occurrence of muscular staleness. The trainee must know himself in regard to temperament, capacity for training, etc. During the training routine, especially when preparing for a contest, the lifter must know when to increase his poundages, the use of the correct amount of sets and repetitions, and most important of all, WHEN HE IS TRAINING ON HIS "NERVE." 

Time and time again I have seen experienced lifters make the fatal mistake of pushing their training poundage too hard. The result is always the same. Their progress is fine for three or four weeks and then they experience a letdown. When this occurs they have to reduce their training poundages, sometimes to a point that is less than when they first began their preparatory routine. This will have a detrimental effect on their psychological outlook. They lose confidence in themselves and their lifting ability. To make matters worse, valuable time is lost; usually the lifter is incapable of attaining the desired degree of strength and condition when the contest arrives. 

Generally speaking, the utilization of higher repetitions counteracts muscular staleness. Also, there is less chance of injury as a lighter poundage is lifted. When first commencing a concentrated training routine and preparing for a weightlifting contest comparatively higher repetitions should be used. Later, the repetitions are reduced and heavier poundages are used so that a few weeks before the competition peak two or even one repetition will be performed in training. 

The trainee's confidence will be given an extra boost when lifting poundages in training that are comparable to what is desired in the actual contest. Lighter poundages serve their purpose in improving lifting form, coordination and condition. Heavy, near limit training poundages will strengthen and prepare the body for the eventual all out effort.

I am convinced that the single repetition system combined with near limit poundages will develop the greatest lifting efficiency. 

Also, every weightlifter must face the fact that during competition, if he desires to become a champion, he must force himself to the absolute limit. It is a bad practice to train with poundages that are far under one's limit and then go all out in competition as this could result in a serious injury.

The mind constitutes the driving force behind athletic endeavor. Without this power of mind or the lack of control of it the athlete has no purpose or direction. To reap the full benefits psychologically when weight training, the mind must be focused on the day by day training, living habits, etc., AT ALL TIMES AND NOT ONLY WHEN TRAINING. 

If this is not done the lifter's "drive" - his ability to sacrifice so as to attain the desired goals - will decrease proportionately. 

A wise weightlifter is one who does not complicate his life with superfluous obligations, material possessions and imagined necessities, and takes from his existence only what is needed to attain his ultimate goals in the sport of his choice.       

 Doug Hepburn

Body Power: How to Develop It

When the technique has been perfected in all three Olympic lifts the acquisition of bodypower becomes all important. Lifting technique and bodypower are the inseparable components that make a champion weightlifter. One is useless without the other. 

Many weightlifters achieve a moderate degree of pressing, snatching, and clean and jerking ability within a comparatively short period of time after first commencing training on the Olympic lifts. Unfortunately these lifters improve slowly, sometimes not at all, after the primary gains are made. This can prove highly distressful and discouraging, especially so as long hours of intensive training have been devoted to improving the Olympic total.

The solution to this common problem is obvious to the individual who has had the opportunity of associating with lifters of world championship caliber. However, not everyone has this opportunity and consequently many are in the dark as to how to develop the strength so that weightlifting efficiency of a very high degree can be attained. 

Of all the exercises used to develop bodypower one stands alone. I am referring to the Deep Knee Bend or Squat. No other single exercise can give the trainee greater overall strength in return for the time and effort involved. The portion of the body from the waist down constitutes the foundation. Regardless of shoulder and arm strength one must have the underpinnings so that full utilization of pressing, jerking, curling power can be attained. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This adage is applicable to the human body regardless of the exercise. 

When pressing overhead the strength in the hips and thighs is just as important as that of the shoulders. If the trainee is desirous of incorporating the popular lay back pressing stance of the upper body into his Olympic lifts he must possess sufficient strength in the lower back, thighs and abdominal areas.

When squatting to build bodypower for the Olympic lifts, the feet should be positioned exactly the same as when cleaning or snatching. This applies to both the split or squat style of lifting. By placing the legs in this position when squatting, full utilization of the leg drive at the primary phase of the clean or snatch is attained. There is no purpose in squatting or deadlifting for that matter with the legs in a position that is foreign to that used when lifting. 

During the actual squatting movement the trainee should strive to control the legs and maintain them in the same groove so that their position at any point of the upward movement is identical to that of the straightening of the legs (leg drive) in the commencing position of the clean or snatch. This also applies when performing the deadlift movement and high pull for this purpose. 

When squatting to develop bodypower for split style lifting the feet will be placed closer together than that of the squat style lifter. The actual position of the feet is such that they are turned outward only slightly. In the majority of cases when the full squat is assumed the heels tend to raise off the floor making the balance difficult. To overcome this it is necessary to wear a shoe with a slightly elevated heel, or to place a short board under the heels prior to squatting. This board should be approximately one inch to one inch and a half in thickness. Place this four or five feet in front of the squat stands. 

After removing the bar off the stands step backward and then position the heels on the board (Good Grief, get some weightlifting shoes already). When this is accomplished inhale and then assume the low squat position. When the extreme low position is attained commence to arise to the erect position. Do not exhale until the three quarter point of the erect position is attained.  

The squatting movement should not be performed slowly but rather in a snappy manner, especially so during its upward motion. Squatting in this manner tends to develop spring in the legs so that when lifting the speed of the leg action is increased measurably. Do not, however, attempt to bounce from the extreme low squat position. This will exert undue strain on the knees and could cause a serious impairment in these regions. 

It is my opinion that the squat should be discontinued six to eight days before a competitive meet. This practice allows the muscles of the legs to throw off a fatigue or deadness caused by squatting. Although the legs can be quite strong due to the concentrated squatting there will be a loss of resiliency and speed of reflex. This in turn hampers lifting efficiency. After the meet normal training on the squat can be resumed. 

The squat should be performed two to three times per week with at least one rest day between workouts. If possible this exercise should accompany the Deadlift and High Pull exercises. 

Sets and Repetitions

Warm up for five reps then perform 3 to 5 single reps with a substantial poundage. Do not use a weight too close to the absolute limit as this would be courting staleness. It is a better policy to exercise with a poundage well within one's capabilities and take lesser weight increases. Otherwise, especially when utilizing the heavy singles, the trainee will be forced to either fall back and take less weight, or lay off training completely for a time. This latter necessity can prove highly discouraging and frustrating to a gain-impatient lifter.

After the single reps have been performed decrease the training weight and do 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 consecutive repetitions. The combination of the single and the consecutive reps will give the trainee both a high degree of muscular strength AND bulk.

In the next article I will deal with the High Pull and Deadlift exercises and their contribution to maximum Olympic lifting efficiency. 

Enjoy Your Lifting!  



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