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Overcoming fear of lifting heavy weights.

Kshitij roy
Kshitij roy
I have always been fascinated by the lifting capacity of a person. In my head, it directly correlates with the brutal physical strength a person has. And I have always wanted to be one of them. That's one of the main reasons I started lifting anyway. Always enjoyed videos by powerlifters and particularly in this group mentors like Dara Singh Handa & Anupam Adarsh Mishra inspired a lot. (If only I could do half the things they could do). 
 
But I was equally afraid of getting injured, and I always gave in too quickly whenever I went out of my comfort zone. Also, so many events of injuries around me ensured the belief further that it's not worth the effort. On top of it, people who were into powerlifting ate adequately as it is required, and I saw aesthetics going for a toss (which is quite reasonable). I accumulated all these reasons in my head for not exceeding my lifting limits anyway. 
 
But, as my lifting capacity remained the same, my self-image never improved, and, in my head, I never became the guy who I set out to be. It frustrated me no end. I knew I had to address it.
 
One fine day I just decided to chuck out all the reasons and find ways to overcome my fears. On my way, I encountered many failures and a lot of learnings which I am going to share here. If you resonate with the feelings mentioned above and have ever been in a similar state, you can try out the following things which helped me a great deal.
 
1) Ensuring safety first - Applying good form and technique - No ego lifting: For me, safety is the priority. Making sure that the weights are correctly clamped, and the 'form and technique' is perfect while lifting, are the two most important aspects of lifting to me. Avoid ego lifting because that leads you nowhere. Lift lighter loads, but with immaculate form. Reading about it, watching videos, shooting my videos, pointing out errors and improving them, seeking help from fellow mentors helped a lot. Getting the foundations right is indeed of paramount importance. You get this done; You've won half the battle. I realize that doing a lighter load with utmost grace is way crucial than lifting super heavy in an ugly compromised way.
 
2) Changing the identity/ self-image: I knew that fear was a significant obstacle for me. At the core, it pointed out the image that 'I am the guy who backs out in the end". And I never broke that image for a long time. It had settled in like a bad habit. But when I was at a stage where I could maintain a decent form while lifting, I started breaking this image by adding lighter loads gradually. It felt painful in the beginning, but somehow, I was able to stick to it. After a few days, a surge of confidence filled me in. I added more weight and started testing my physical limits more frequently. Do you know what it did? It affirmed the image "I am the guy who tests his physical limits". It's all about setting a habit of exceeding your potential consistently. More you see yourself breaking the limited image/perception of yours; more you become that person. 
 
3) Planning/Visualizing/Doing the lifts: You know how they say, things are created in your mind first and then in reality. Well, it's true. I was reading a lot of books about visualization and creation process, and I thought of applying it to lifting as well. I started picturing myself vividly lifting heavy and getting stronger every day. I started practising gratitude for the present state of my physical capacity. I began setting targets and achieving them for specific days. I know it's going to sound absurd, but it started happening. In the previous point, I talked about 'doing things for believing in yourself'. Here I am saying that you have to believe in yourself for doing things. It is a two-way street. If you do things, it creates an image of you being capable, and if you believe,/visualize that you are capable, you end up doing things. It was such a life-changing epiphany for me.
 
4) Trusting the body more than the mind at times: The most significant challenge was to battle the demons while doing the lift. When I sat down for a squat with a real heavy load and was about to come up, there used to be a point where I genuinely felt like giving up, and I did most of the time. My workout partner used to shout at me and told me to shut off my mind, and I could have a shot at completing the 'rep'. I thought of giving that a chance, and after several failed attempts, I was able to do it once. I shut off my mind, groaned like some wild beast and completed the 'rep' somehow. I started incorporating it more frequently. Of course, I fail at it at times, and I give up when I think is needed, but It has stored a lot of faith in my own body. I realize that not just the mind, my body is equally adept and intelligent. 
 
 
Of course, the physical parameters such as eating right, resting adequately, planning de-load/tapering at specific points, tweaking training regimes, finding a better/capable workout partner etc. contributed immensely to my lifting prowess. But, as far as the mental battle was concerned, the points mentioned above have been the critical factors to date. 
 
And trust me, my legs used to shiver when I did squats with 50 kilos in the beginning. Today I can do 3-4 reps of 140 kilos without assistance. I know it could be a warmup thing for many stalwarts in the group, but for a guy like me, it is good progress. And most of it was possible because I tried winning it in the mind first.
 
See to it if my experiences benefit you or not. I am with you on this journey as well (Because still a long way to go).

Thrive! 🙏🏻✌️