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Listen up, Ladies

November 7, 2009

Powerlifting is about getting heavy. There are few things more satisfying than loading up a barbell with as much weight as you can manage, putting it on your back and taking it for a ride.

When you decide to get heavy, you don’t fuck around. This is not the time to casually approach the bar, ease yourself into position and expect to manage maximal loads successfully. As strong as you may be, if you are not mentally prepared to own the barbell, well… the barbell will win every time.

After a week of watching people squat, bench and deadlift, the mental ritual of the Set Up was really driven home. Some people got violent, some got deeply calm; most, a combination of the two.  You knew when someone’s head was in the game and when it wasn’t. As simple as this sport is, it takes all your guts to do it right.

Dudes seem to take naturally to the Set Up. Not always, mind you, but definitely more often than women. I suppose it has something to do with testosterone and the social acceptability of displaying aggression.

Blah, blah, blah.

Let’s get over that, shall we ladies? Let’s, instead, get in on the action.

When you approach a loaded bar, make the decision to be there. Develop your Set Up. It’s your ritual, your chance to forge mental and physical strength that is entirely your own. The thing isn’t gonna lift itself: you are. How cool is that?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurel permalink
    November 8, 2009 12:11 am

    Huh. I’ve been thinking about this recently and have been experimenting somewhat, but I haven’t hit on a good Set Up ruitine yet. Do you have one that works?

    The clip is great – I like the guttural sounds.

  2. Margie permalink*
    November 8, 2009 4:25 am

    Laurel – everyone’s Set Up is different. It’s such a personal thing. One Norwegian man competing in the 125kg plus category had the DJ play a slow, emotional traditional Norwegian song each time he lifted and you could see this deep, almost weepy passion building in him.

    Continue to experiment to find out what pyschs you up. The goal of the Set Up is to prepare yourself to OWN the weight. So, what are you saying to yourself in your head to convince yourself of that? What kind of adrenaline do you need to generate in your body?

    Personally, I like to get a couple of stomps in, grab the bar with conviction and then stare it down with confidence and joy that I will master it. Then I get underneath it aggressively, lock up my rack position and stand up with one purpose: to squat with success.

    • cheyne permalink
      February 7, 2010 7:02 am

      I remember that! I remember seeing you psyche yourself up like that, and I could see you focus, it inspired me foreal. Sometimes I try to do the same thing , I charge the bar like a bull, and pretend I am as focused as you, but my weakness reminds me I’m not. What works for me is if I have Grant slap my face a couple times and then spit in my mouth… haha jus kidding! I miss lifting with you guys:(

  3. November 8, 2009 11:12 pm

    Preach it, sister.

    I’m linking this up on the CFNYC blog tonight.

  4. Paul@CFQ permalink
    November 9, 2009 12:21 pm

    Great article Margie. I’m following Allison on this one and putting it out there. We have some heavy days coming up and ladies need to get their heads in the game before getting under the bar. Awesome!

  5. Justin permalink
    November 12, 2009 1:49 pm

    Great article. This was one of the biggest things that has helped me along at CF, actually. I learned the form and motions in Foundations, but was really struggling with most of the lifts. One day of push press, Shane was watching me push press and explained the importance of being aggressive and focused. Major improvement.

  6. Hannah permalink
    January 4, 2010 11:39 pm

    margie, i love this post. i think it speaks to that age-old female epidemic of being pleasing. whether we learned it 50,000 years ago or 25 years ago, the result is the same: we become habitually focused on the experience of everyone around us and habitually NOT focused on our own. committing to any one act, with your total focus, total presence, and total attention is a kind of liberation and just reading about it makes me happy. thanks for sharing your observations.


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