Lifting weight whether in a powerlifting forum or through Olympic weightlifting requires maximal efforts from both the mind and body. A weight lifter should be in an optimal state of arousal in order to perform. Many athletes can have many different rituals to aid in performance and build confidence for big lifts. A favorite song, jumping up and down, slapping the arms and legs, or getting aggressive with the bar can be used as to using mental strategies to facilitate performance. Other popular techniques can include imagery, focus, positive self talk, or rehearsal of the mechanic of a movement in order to “psych up” for a lift or max effort. Psyching up is basically “self-directed cognitive strategies used by individuals to enhance their performance.”
Research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research investigated the effect of psyching up on bench press performance. Researchers studied 12 men and 8 women with strength and conditioning experience. The participants were required to perform 5 bench press reps on a modified Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer for 3 different trials. The trials consisted of a free choice psych-up group, a cognitive distraction group, and an placebo group. Researchers found that psyching up before the lift increased the force production measured during the bench press in participants with previous strength training experience.
Athletes and coaches could experiment with different techniques of arousal in psyching up their athletes for a big lift. More research should be conducted to examine different techniques of arousal with a variety of powerlifters and Olympic weightlifting athletes.