Barbell Mindset

In this post we are looking at your mindset.

Specifically, the mindset you carry into each training session and on to every rep of every set that you perform with the barbell. Training the body is obviously important, but when we also focus on enhancing our mental game, we can make progress at an even greater rate.

I’ve previously shared an earlier version of this as an email with some HJP Method athletes and I thought others may get value from it. So here it is!

The entrance to Upper Hutt Weightlifting Club

As You Enter the Gym

For me this is the place it all begins. When you decide to head into the gym it is time to switch on. When I enter the gym for a training session, it is time to forget about all that has occurred outside the gym that day. Your attitude as you enter the gym sets the tone for the whole session.

Had a rough day at work? When you enter through those gym doors, that is pushed from your mind.

Worried about what your friend said about you? For the hour or two you are at the gym, don’t even entertain those thoughts.

Your focus must shift to the job at hand.

You are training.

You are in the gym to get better.

So get your head into the game.


You should always have a specific focus for your session. Even if you step through the gym doors on an active recovery day – you should be intentional about the things you are there to improve on.

Don’t think that because it is flexibility work you shouldn’t be focused. You want to maximise all of your training, whether it is performing your hip mobility or attempting a personal best on the Snatch – ensure that you are focused on the objectives you wish to achieve.

I am not saying you can’t have a laugh. I am all for enjoying your training – I think in-between hard sets a laugh is great to help you keep level-headed. But you need to be intending to do every rep well and switch on when you need to.

You are in the gym for a reason, know what it is.

Approach the Bar

For a weightlifter, the way you approach the bar tells a story.

Is the lifter confident, walking towards the bar with their shoulders held high, and a focus in their eyes? Or do they look doubtful, hesitantly approaching the bar with a nervous look in their eyes?

I can tell you which lifter I would put my money on to hit the lift. I bet you know too. 

When you approach a bar, remember you loaded that weight for a reason. If you loaded it, I want to see confidence in your body language. I want you to be backing yourself!

Be confident and focused when you approach the bar

Two Words

This is one I learnt at a Richie Patterson workshop. He encouraged the use of two words as cues when you approach the bar. With these two words, you tell yourself specific things you wish to reinforce.

As an example, I often say “control” and “tall” before I Snatch or Clean. With only two words I‘m telling myself to remember some important technical cues.

With “control” I am telling myself to ensure I move well off the floor, pushing with the legs and maintaining my back position. Not being in a rush and losing good positions.

While the word “tall” ensures that I finish my pull and extend at the top – making sure I don’t try to pull under until I have achieved full extension.

I encourage you to experiment with some cues. The above are the cues I use, they mean a lot more to me than just the two words I say, but those two words are all I need. This ensures I avoid overthinking as I step towards the bar.

Once you are lifting, there is no time for thinking. It is all over so quickly. So keep it brief before you lift, then trust yourself.

Good Things Take Time

You are unlikely to build a solid mindset overnight. You will need to work on the above points over time. But I encourage you to begin to take steps towards improving in this area.

When you enter the gym, switch on and focus on what you’re there to do. Approach the bar with confidence, treat every rep – from the warm-up to the max weight – with respect, intending to move well. But don’t let yourself overthink, keep focused on only one or two key cues per lift.

If you enjoyed this post feel free to share it. I hope it improves the way you approach your training.

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