Psychological Gym Bag

Annie, Kyle and I attended a weightlifting seminar with well known American weightlifter Donny Shankle a while back (450lb+ C&J and 370lb+ Snatch in his prime). Donny really embraced an angry approach to lifting. I believe a famous quote from him (you may even be able to buy a shirt) is, “Pull like you’re ripping the head off of a God-Damned lion.”

Essentially what he encourages is to have anger or aggression as part of our repertoire. He spoke about it simply as just another “tool” in the gym bag, next to weightlifting shoes, straps, and belt.

It’s important to say, this is not just some meat head mumbo jumbo. There’s plenty of evidence in the literature showing our body/minds ability to have motor-units (motor neuron and the muscle cell it innervates) stored for needed or desperate times. If we can psychologically pump ourselves up, with aggression for example, we can potentially recruit more motor units, which simply means we’ll be able to generate more force and lift more weight.

Donny spoke about this “tool” he uses very humbly. That’s all it was for him, was a technique he used that helped him achieve his intention of lifting more weight, and when he left the gym, he put that piece of “equipment” back in his bag for next time.

Humans have a countless amount of these kinds of emotions or parts in us.

My guess is that Glenn, Brian, and Haley did not have their “rip the head of a lion” energy out of their gym bag during this photo, but they are expressing other useful and beneficial parts of themselves to achieve some intention they have in CrossFit.

Can you think of this idea and apply some useful psychological tools to your training? Aggression is one (maybe a rare one), but what about enjoyment, calmness, focus, connection? Do you find it useful and beneficial to demonstrate any of these or other parts of yourself in the gym?



4 Sets:
8 Alternating DB Bench Press/Side (holding one DB in extended position
xAMRAP inverted weighted BB row @ 20x1 tempo (feet elevated and plate across midline if possible)
10 DB Side Lying Ext Rotation/Side

5 Rounds:
Top of Every 4 Minutes
200m Run
10 Pull Ups
10 Push Ups
200m Run
*200m Run should take ~60 seconds or less--adjust accordingly. Scale UP to C2B Pull ups and Ring Push Ups if possible. It should be 3 minutes of work and 1 minute of rest--scale appropriately to meet this