Yesterday, I have to admit to being quite surprised by what I heard at the gym. I was smack in the middle of my leg workout, setting up a pressing machine, when I heard utterances that made me cringe when they came out of a “trainer’s” mouth. His client was on a 45-degree leg press, he was stripping off pounds of weight with every few sets she completed (drop sets), as he repeatedly shouted:
“Don’t get psyched out – don’t get psyched out.”
Well-intentioned as these words might have been, they probably were, in effect, worse to hear than nothing at all. The reason: Our subconscious minds don’t directly process ‘negatives.’ What this emotionally-responsive part of the mind hears from the phrase above is simply:
… “Get psyched out… Get psyched out!” The word “don’t” needs to be processed consciously – hardly something worth mentally working out in the middle of a workout. In the heat of the moment, we subconsciously process the command (Get psyched out!”) that’s embedded within the sentence.
Here’s a friendly piece of advice within the context of “muscle building mindset” for both trainers and trainees: First and foremost – ‘Do no harm.’ A better way to put it might be suggesting it in the positive:
Say words of motivation and encouragement – both to yourself and others – in positive phraseology.
‘Muscle Building Mindset’: State what you want – Not what you “don’t want.”
Negatively stated warnings containing undesirable “embedded commands” are all over the place. We see them behind the bartender:
‘Don’t drink and drive.’
… At the zoo:
‘Please don’t pet the animals’
… And in the movie theater:
‘Please refrain from talking during the movie’
That’s okay; let those who don’t know any better make this mistake. But as a high performing person – within sports, bodybuilding, general fitness, or business endeavors – hold yourself to a higher standard. Make your thoughts and out-loud statements about performance only in the positive about how you want to perform rather than creating statements of the undesirable immediately prefaced with the word ‘don’t.’ This is of major importance in developing a ‘muscle building mindset’ or a high-performance mindset in any other goal-oriented endeavor.
‘Muscle Building Mindset’: State it with positive emotion
So what would the trainer I overheard in the gym be better off having said? How about something like “Get psyched up… Get psyched up.” Or maybe something as simple as “Feel the power in your legs… Your legs are getting unbelievably strong with each repetition you do.”
Saying what you want to do – or what you want your client to do – can only be topped by also saying it with as much positive emotion as you can generate. Give these statements an emotional jolt and the subconscious mind will respond even more positively to the words.
Above all, for getting and keeping a muscle building mindset, make sure you do no harm by dumping any tendency to use “don’t statements.” You and your clients (if you’re a trainer) will perform much better just for this.