Research has proven that stress, anger, anxiety, when triggered in an athlete, can tighten muscles, tense up the body, hamper and negatively affect breathing, and generally act as a hindrance to performance. This result is no different if you are 19 or over 50!
For 10 months I have been lucky enough to be working with one of the most respected sports psychologist and mental performance experts in the world, Sue Wilson. On Saturday morning May 26th, 2012 I acted as kind of bio-neuro feedback test subject to show how our thoughts translate instantly into emotions, and emotions into physiological responses.
I was wired for performance that weekend, as a team from a mental training center gave a demonstration of the biofeedback/neurofeedback techniques used to train athletes in things like mental toughness and proper breathing.
In short, many athletes don’t reach their performance potential because of thinking too much and improper breathing.
I should mention that I used this training and testing as part of my training for my Guinness World Record for the most squat-lifted weight in one hour, hoisting 127,000 pounds.
Hooked up to sophisticated transmitters that registered a number of indicators on a screen, I was questioned by a relaxation and stress management consultant. The questions evoked reactions in my mind and body. Graphs on a screen would rise and fall as I got my thoughts under control by moderating my breathing and relaxing my mind.
One basic concept is that when tension builds up in the upper body and shoulders it makes it very difficult to breathe properly from the diaphragm. Tension in the shoulders slows an athlete down.
The question is; why does tension build up in the shoulders?
There are a number of reasons this can happen:
- Previous injuries
- Worrying about the expectations of a coach
- Worrying about the expectation of a parent
- Fear of failing
This can all lead to a “busy brain”, or thinking too much.
While a busy mind might be good for multi-tasking activities, it’s not good for sports or activities that require focus. In high focus sports a busy mind is the last thing you want.
Interestingly enough, the same overly active thinking processes that hamper performance in sports, also influence performance in countless other human activities, from public speaking to making important business decisions.
I can honestly say that the techniques I learned from my mental performance coach, have helped me calm down, breath better, and conserve more energy. In an endurance sport like weightlifting, such skills are indispensable. I also sleep much better now that I have more control over my thoughts.
The mental and breathing aspects of sports and non-sports activities are key in elite performance. Learn to respect and use them to setup your game.
Over 50 – The Toughest Element in Fitness is Motivation (restartretirement.com)
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Walter UrbanWalter Urban has been Powerlifting for 15 years and is a member of the Canadian Masters Powerlifting Team for 3 out of the last 6 years. He finished 6th at the World Championships in 2010 and placed in the top 10 in 2005 and again in 2009. He is a US citizen, born in Pennsylvania, and has been a landed immigrant in Canada for about 13 years where he resides today. He is a member of one of the strongest drug-free Powerlifting Teams in North America, The Iron Foundation, ages19 to 53, male and female, who train 3 to 4 days a week 2 to 3 hours a day, 50 weeks a year drug-free....most for over 15 years! On September 15, 2011, he successfully broke the Guinness World Record for the most amount of weight lifted squatting in one hour which was 125,065 lbs set in 2009 by 32 year old “Six Pack” Ryan Lapadat. Walter Urban was 53 years old, 21 years older the former record holder. Walter Urban.com
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