Hi Michael and Friends, As alluded to in my recent tweet*, I practiced the Alexander Technique for my first powerlifting competition!
What is powerlifting?
Powerlifting is a sport where the goal is to lift the most in:
- Back squat
- Bench press
Each competitor gets 3 attempts for each, and are judged by 3 judges. You need 2 out of 3 judges' "white light/flag" for a lift to be deemed "good."
I won 2nd place in my division (female / 132-148 lb / novice)!
How I used AT in powerlifting (not what you think)
...And you would expect this post to be about how I apply AT during the lifts, right?But nope! AT was most useful in the *time between each lift attempt.* Since there are a number of competitors, it takes 20-30 min between each lift, which left a lot of time for overthinking and general performance-dampening thought processes to happen.That's when I applied Michael's teachings--the planes, the conversations behind me, etc. So I could stay in a state of expanded awareness and calm as I waited for my turn to go.
Vishnu Hands Variation for Training
Much of the work for powerlifting comes in the training period. I originally wasn't set out to compete till age 88 (see recent newsletter) but a teammate's injury meant that I, as the gym cheerleader, subbed in with 3 weeks to train.Many professional athletes use visualization to help them achieve their maximum effort. For example, Eddie Hall, a famous World's Strongest Man, allegedly visualized something horrible happening to his son in order to deadlift 500 kg (1102 lb), a world record at the time: I didn't want to visualize something horrible 😰 and wanted to come up with something more positive instead.And I remembered...Vishnu hands! I have tried Michael's technique a handful (ha!) of times and found it fascinating, but didn't know how to apply it in daily life.So I thought...what if I imagine "cloning" myself, and duplicating, or even triplicating, my strength? What if when I lift, I imagine additional unit(s) of myself doing the lift?** (In my visualization it's kind of like when you play Mario Kart in "time trial" mode and you can chase after a "ghost version" of yourself. So just more units of myself in ethereal form, if that makes sense.)The strangest thing is that this strategy does work for me--during training, I felt I was able to lift a lot more with this visualization, that I deemed "Vishnu bodies."However...during the competition, I did NOT end up using this method at all. This is because I wasn't actually lifting my maximum attempts (my coach wanted me to hit lifts that I'm 100% confident I can do, so no personal records were pursued here!) I was able to move the weights quite quickly, so there was no time to apply the visualization technique. I was also mentally occupied remembering my other cues (demeanor! bracing and holding my belly tight!) and couldn't fit "Vishnu bodies" in the same timeframe.mario kart time trial mode-*This is not a galaxy-brain social media strategy, it's that I've been kind of backlogged on many projects and I'm forcing my own accountability to finish a project by pre-announcing it on Twitter.. :S**The number of "units" of myself varied because I noticed that with the squat, it made sense that the Vishnu body was behind me, like a spotter would anyway. But with the bench press and deadlift, I needed two vishnu bodies, one on each side, or else it felt "imbalanced." Weird huh!
Athlete of the Month