Weightlifting is intense and risky, plus it shoots your levels of adrenaline and distress to the sky. Don’t forget about your emotions, they are also running at high speed. So how does your character adapt to this? Are you a risk-taker and keep adding loads to your bar, or a fighter for the perfect technique? When you chose the plates’ weight for your deadlift, do you follow your guts?
When I lift weights, my personality changes. I try to take out the explosive me, the smiles are saved for the end. I put tons of tape on my thumbs, I like when they match with my outfit. You will see me covering my shins (sometimes with more tape!) and wrapping my weak wrists with my flashy red straps. My hair is tightly braided, I make weird sounds with my breathing, some of them come from my yoga classes. I’m covered in chalk because my hands are always sweaty and that isn’t safe, so I go extra safe and set next to my bar my own bucket of chalk. All this things make me feel like a professional weightlifter.
What about you? What things do you do to get hyped for lifting? I know everyone has their own way, but I think you can find yourself (as I did) in one or more of these styles.
What’s your deadlift style?
Let’s use the deadlift, the most basic and yet the most complete strength exercise, to figure out the different types of personalities that emerge.
A short cute grunt begins the deadlift. Ashley places herself in front of her bar with energetic steps and solid posture, often barefoot or just wearing a worn out pair of Chucks. She bends over the bar, set to win, her grip in the perfect position. She pulls the bar aggressively and completes a perfect, wildy heavy deadlift. She finishes the lift with a longer and deeper grunt, the kind that only comes from maximum effort! But don’t be intimidated by Ashley’s rage, it’s just part of her weightlifting routine. Once outside the box, she turns into a gentle, lovable baby lamb.
This lady has a close relationship with her barbell. She uses big weights and has a killer look. Her strategy is to pursue her victim, which in this case, is her barbell. She does not fear her loaded barbell, despite past missed lifts. But before feeling truly comfortable, this weightlifter spends critical time gazing at her victim, thinking about her position, shape and how she’ll manhandle these weights. This kind of athlete is a complex and volatile mix of desire for revenge (for past misses) and victory. They want to complete a successful lift and show the barbell who is the boss. If you are witnessing the performance of a Strategic Stalker, it’s best to stay out of their way when they are in the zone, but don’t be fooled by her intense staring at the barbell, this is only a physical expression of her commitment to perform her best!
The name says it all! These ladies LOVE chalk. The more the better! Before getting ready to deadlift, you’ll see Snow White surrounded by the white fog of destiny. It’s amazing to see how these ladies take the use of chalk to a whole new level. You see chalk on their fists, shoulders, chest, quads, shins, everywhere; like some sort of incredibly fit apparition. And there she goes. She bends over her bar, visions of white and gold in her mind. The moment gives her focus. She takes a deep breath and performs a near perfect deadlift, white dust flying when the bar reaches her thighs. To complete this magical moment, she ends by clapping the bit of chalk remaining in her palms into the air. Like only the stars do.
These are warrior ladies who believe in gender equality and lift as heavy as the guys. They are strong and passionate about weightlifting. She has a kind of scary look, always lifting heavy things at the gym just because she can. And when the time to perform arrives, these athletic women surprise everyone with their energetic preparation. Seconds before she approaches the bar on the floor, she screams loud and deep. She may beat her chest while bracing her core, disconnecting from everything around, stabilizing her posture, reviewing in her mind the correct technique. She ends her deadlift with a controlled screaming that takes us inside the truly wild and wonderful world of these warrior women.
While CrossFit is certainly not a religion in any formal sense, it’s very common to find among its members a big group of believers. Did you hear about Jesus WOD? Angie Conrad Amphay describes this workout as “an awesome way to celebrate Easter and the suffering that Christ endured”. There are also ladies like Andrea Ager, an American professional CrossFit athlete, who proudly sing praises on both social media and during interviews, and even aid at faith-based CrossFit camps. So yes, their devotion is also expressed in the way they lift. For example, they can start a deadlift by bowing their heads in silent prayer or kneeling in sign of prayer and reflection. Then, in front of the barbell, they are ready for the battle. You can see their expressions full of faith and determination. Only when their soul, mind and body are in harmony, they lift the bar. And at the end, whether they achieve their goal or not, they are thankful for the experience.
The self-pushing girl
Nothing is sound-proof in the way this lady lifts. She always screams before a big deadlift. Usually, it’s a loud noise or intrusive, offensive language. All these messages are only directed to one receptor, herself. This lifter’s strategy is a burst of motivation and energy to approach the bar and finish the deadlift. Add to that the strong tightening of her belt to increase intra-abdominal pressure before heavy lifting. Although this kind of behavior and level of aggressiveness could bring her a negative perception from her peers, we all know she is just a strong and capable woman. Plus, it’s her way to give herself courage and add strength to her deadlifts. So if it works for her, why should we complain? Join this lady on her next lift with a big roar, you will feel the power too.
When we lift heavy weights, we naturally pass through a process of mental and physical preparation to lift successfully. We are “psyching-up” to get better results. When we do this, we are using self-directed cognitive strategies designed to enhance physical performance. These strategies can be preparatory arousal, imagery, attentional focus, and self-talk. A lot of weightlifters see this “psyching up” or mental preparation translated to “making faces” and “acting weird” while performing. So if you find yourself in the descriptions above, don’t worry, it’s quite the opposite, keep doing it! Research seems to suggest a more positive increase in strength from internal, focused and intense types of personalities.
My advice, get psyched and hype up as a lifter! Understand what it takes for you to successfully lift a heavy weight, what it takes to mentally prepare to lift a heavy weight, and what you can do to excite your central nervous system. Outside the gym, go back to your normal character, remember that you must act civilized. People in the street might not like an Amazon roaring while carrying groceries.
Leave a comment telling us what excites you the most when lifting.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
March is the founder and owner of The Barbell Beauties which she started in 2015. She is from the Philippines and currently lives in beautiful Thailand with her American husband and daughter. She is an avid Crossfitter and has just started her journey into Muay Thai (kickboxing).