Darth Vader’s Guide to Safe Lifting

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If you had the confidence to ask Darth Vader what his secret to lifting was, he would probably tell you it is all in your mind.   Why do so many people get lifting wrong?  Why do they hurt their back picking up a pencil, yet others can deadlift 400 pounds? 

Well, Darth Vader just told you – it’s all in your mind.

Yesterday, I went thru a grueling 4.5-hour physical test of my will to become a Master level student of Krav Maga.  Struggling against the physical burden of 200 burpees (all in a row), 100 pushups with a 1-minute hold at the top after each 25, 150 situps as a connected group, 150 squat thrusts (all in a row) only then to spar against 5 black belt instructors.  At the end of it all, we did the same physical routine all over again.  And I did all of this with a lifetime of compiled injuries (2 broken vertebrae; a tumor in my lower vertebrae; broken collar; finger; toes, sternum bones; and an 18% equilibrium imbalance.   Did I want to quit? You betcha.  Why didn’t I – mindset.

Mindset vs. Conditioning vs. Technique

You need all three, but the mindset is above all, the tops, the master of your domain.  Without it, you quit, get sloppy, and that is when you get hurt.  Mindset is what slows you down, allows you to get your technique right, keeps you in a good space where you approach the job with a smile on your face, where you stayed in the moment and focused on the task at hand.

Conditioning

Conditioning is the second piece of the puzzle.  Making 200 lifts a day is tiring and without the proper conditioning, you won’t be able to do it.  The mindset has a lot to do with your conditioning.  When you are tired you can decide to give up, or you can push thru because when you think you are done you still have about 40% in the tank.  You just have to push yourself. But that means you must be conditioned both mentally and physically.  Conditioning, again, without it you won’t be able to accomplish all the tasks even if your mind wants you to.

Technique

Ah, the beauty of the technique.  It’s what we teach in our safe lifting classes – bend at the knees, keep your back straight, lift with your legs.  The best technique in the world won’t help you if you mentally give up when you need it.  Moreover, that is what happens in most lifting injuries.  We mentally give up.  We stop trying to use the proper form, and we stop conditioning ourselves for easier more enjoyable things like watching tv and Big Gulps.  You can get through a lot more with conditioning and mindset and poor technique than you can with great technique alone.

Mindset

You have heard it before in other forms – Grit, Mental Toughness, Persistence.  These are all true, but Mindset is broader and more evolved than these three.  You can have Grit to push thru but be pushing towards the wrong thing.  Mindset, as we speak of here, is the ability to live up to doing it right.  Making the best of the situation.  Keeping your focus.  Being safe.  Not sacrificing for a short-term achievement.  Not shortcutting the process.  Being a role model.

It means that when the end of the day comes and you have one more lift to accomplish, you don’t forgo any of the pieces.  You dig deep and remember to follow all of the protocols, safety items and perform it with a smile on your face.

Developing a Mindset

Developing a Mindset is not an easy task.  Just like physical development, it takes years of practice and hard work.  You have to fight the negative self-talk, the easy way of life and train

even when you don’t feel like it.  Here are a few ways to develop Mindset

Visualization

Visualize yourself in difficult situations and winning, doing right, taking the time to follow the protocols.  See yourself in every detail.  Approaching the box, testing the weight, making sure you have a clear path, the place you are going to walk the box too. Feel the weight in your arms, feel your grip.  Do this over and over again.

Cold Showers

Life is comfortable and warm.  Get up in the morning and condition your body and mindset all at once.  Start with a cold shower, you can turn up the heat later in the shower if you need to.  Or better yet, start on hot and at the end of your shower, turn it to cold.  The shock to your system will tell you to stop and you will have to overcome the urge to turn back the hot water.   Your mindset must carry you thru.

Difficult Situations

Challenging situations in which you are successful help build confidence and Mindset.  Find a group of people who will hold you accountable and challenge you to be better, but also want to see you succeed.  Face some of your fears and challenge yourself to persist through them.  See life in a positive way and that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

Good luck and safe lifting!

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