Cillein Groom: Keep the hype for when it matters

Controlling mental endurance is something I have been working on the last 12 months and have found it has made a big difference to my training and competitions. 

I used to constantly think of my training and competitions all day while at work, which would spike my adrenaline and elevate my stress. However, by the time I would get to the gym I would be so mentally fatigued that I would have to dig deep and put myself into that ‘Dark Place’ just so I could hit a 3x5 @70-75%. Due to this by the time competition would come around I would struggle to have the mental focus and aggression I knew I was capable of and would under perform on things I knew I could be better on.

First thing I changed was I would think of my competitions more calmly during the day time and would direct my mental focus on other aspects outside of the gym. While in the gym I stopped having an aggressive approach to things all the time. I instead started to focus more on my muscle mind connection to gain a better understanding of how my body should feel during different lifts. This allowed me to grow stronger without mentally draining myself each training session and would overall improve all aspects of my lifting and day to day life. 

By doing this, when it comes to the important lifts, like your last heavy single or before an event at a competition, you will be able to give so much more of yourself into the lift because you haven't battered your mind completely for weeks on end.

For example, when I pulled 410kg at the World Record Day 2022, I didn't get that hyped up or aggressive for any of my deadlifts in training. My last heavy single was 380kg, and yet on the day of the competition my 410kg moved much faster and cleaner because I saved my aggression for the competition.

I do see a lot of people attack each session aggressively, and although this is a sport of strength, you don't need to be aggressive all the time to be strong. I think what a lot of people lack is an understanding of their own body and they feel the only way they can lift heavy weights is to be amped up on pre workouts, smelling salts and heavy music. And although these things can be useful, they should be spared until certain moments.

Another tool I have found useful is learning to switch my adrenaline on and off. There was a time for me, like a lot of people, where my only way to get psyched up was heavy metal and thinking a lot of negative thoughts. But that can only take you so far before you burn out. Now what I do outside of the gym is I take a moment to close my eyes and to focus on my breathing and to feel my body and to connect with it. The more I did it the easier it became to reach an elevated state of focus and energy, and the easier it became to control it so it doesn't spiral out of control and exhaust me.

How does this carry over to competition day? You need to learn to switch off in between events to conserve your energy. I have been the person who stayed amped up from start to finish and it's exhausting. The day I had the deadlift attempt I had a few hours to kill so instead of walking around thinking of what lay ahead of me, I found a place to lay down and relax until it was time to start. This is even more important if you progress to doing a multiple day competition. When I was at UKs strongest man in between events I would rest, refuel and relax and would wait until I was being called out to start the fire. And in the evening I would relax and avoid thinking of the next day.

You may be reading this and think I am going too deep into this, but in my 5 years of training Strongman I’ve learned you can’t rely on brute strength and an aggressive approach to training if you plan on having a long career. What I see from a lot of the top lifters is a majority of the training is done without being super aggressive or amped up, because they understand it's not just about rage. You are training both body and mind to become stronger, and if you need to rely on loud music, heavy pre workouts and smelling salts for the majority of your training block, then you need to reassess what you are doing.

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