The Power of “Can”: How your inner voice can help you


Welcome everyone! Before I go into the main theme of today’s post, I would like to take a bit of time to explain why I have started this blog. You see, I love training people, I love seeing someone’s confidence grow as they achieve more and more, and I love helping people realize that they can do things they didn’t think possible. So I decided to try and promote that feeling on a wider scale, to try and educate people on how to become what they want to be.

Now, in an ideal world I’d like to be stood proudly on a mountain top, relaying the word to devoted followers below, but unfortunately my beard isn’t long enough, I don’t like heights and I don’t have any magnificent robes, so I opted for the next best thing…. To the Internet!

The views I express are my own, so don’t take them as gospel, I’m just trying to encourage you to think a little differently about your training, and hopefully help you get a little bit more out of your session each time.

I see too many people these days doing the same thing every session with little results, and it would be fantastic if I could get these people to change their way of thinking. Like the women who won’t lift weights because they were told once it would make them too bulky, or the men who train their biceps and chest four times a week but can’t wear shorts as they spend no time training their legs. Try something different! Here are two quotes I think sum up my message here:

“insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

“Only a fool never changes their mind.” – Richard Branson

Ok, let’s move on to our main topic for the day…

the power of “can”

As humans, we are capable of incredible things. But sometimes even the simplest of tasks can become extraordinarily difficult with the wrong mindset. A little negative self talk and all of a sudden that 100kg squat feels like 200, or that extra 200 meters looks like 2 miles, and our confidence is gone. If you want to improve your performance, train harder or achieve more, you need to control your inner voice; make it work constructively to produce good, quality self talk.

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, then in all likelihood you’re not going to do it! Part of the problem here is the fact that sometimes we aren’t aware of our inner voice, so we don’t realize how much those little thoughts are affecting our performance, so let’s think about how our brain works and its subsequent effect on our body.

The brain works as a processor and interpreter of information, therefore any input or stimuli will be used, be it physical, sensory or imagined. The brain then gives meaning to all this info., and illicits an appropriate emotional response, which will in turn influence our behaviour. This in turn is then reinforced by our actions, and behaviour becomes habitual.

When we feel like giving up, our emotions then become dominant, and any conscious awareness that the inner voice has become negative is totally overwhelmed by the emotional response, you go slower, your range of motion and technique suffer, and you Can’t go on.

In other words, the more often you feel negative about something, the more likely you are to become negative when presented with a similar situation. The brain is absurdly complicated, but at the same time very simple. It can only process one thought at a time, so make it positive!

Now, how do we do this? Well it’s very simple, instead of thinking “I can’t”, think “I can”. Ok, it’s not quite that simple, but that’s the gist of it… First, we need to hold ourselves accountable for our own inner voice. For those of you who are super analytical, this can go as far as keeping a log of your thoughts, like how you feel at the start of the session, how’s it feel when you get into the workout, were there any instances when you felt lime giving up? If so, take control and write it down, what were you saying to yourself? Once you have done this you now have a basis from which to work.

So, how do we change? Well, follow these simple guidelines:

  1. Say do not don’t, can not cant. It’s so simple, but it works.
  2. Think about the present. The last time you trained doesn’t matter, that’s over, what matters is what’s in front of you.
  3. Be task specific. Anyone can think “yeah! Come on!” But what really helps is specificity.
  4. Be realistic. Ambition is good, but if you’ve never squatted before then psyching yourself up to go for 200kg isn’t going to happen. Small realistic goals will lead to the big things becoming more achievable.

Different things will work for different people, so you need to find out what works best for you. Self talk needs to be rehearsed, vivid and appropriate to you. If you have been logging your thoughts, track back and look at what you we’re thinking when when you trained really well, and use that information.

We can further divide positive self talk into the following categories, so maybe one of these will be more suited to you…

Skill Development – “keep the bar close” “engage the core” “look forwards”

Strategy – “I’ll do 4 more, then I’m going to hammer the row…”

Psych Up/emotion – “i am strong! I am fast! Come on!”

Relaxation – “keep breathing, one rep at a time, focus on the rhythm”

Evaluation/reinforcement – “I feel good, my technique is good, I can go harder”

Task Focus – “just focus on this next rep, nothing else matters”

Confidence – “I’m so much stronger than I was 3 months ago”

Now hopefully some of this has helped you, try to be positive about everything you do, because you can achieve anything if your mind is strong.

Go train hard!


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