Dec 27, 2013

By: Brady Stewart

Confidence is essential to athletes. It gives them a sense of belief in themselves and their abilities. When the time comes to accomplish something new, confidence is positively used as a force multiplier in achieving a personal best, performing optimally, or breaking through that ceiling of what they previously thought impossible.

When the strength athlete has thoughts of self-doubt and imagines feats of strength as impossible, they are doing some severe damage to their confidence. Those feats, unbeknownst to them, immediately become impossible for them. Whereas their more confident competition may believe that certain feats are possible. Who has a greater chance at achieving more?

Let’s do a quick test to assess your self-confidence. This will only take a few minutes. Seriously do this. (if you can’t right now, do it later when you are all alone) Go to a large mirror and look into your own eyes. What do you see? Be straightforward. What you believe that you see is how you perceive yourself honestly. How you perceive yourself is how other people likely see you as well. They can tell through your body language, attitude, and how you speak. If you aren’t happy with what you see, what are you doing to improve? There is never failure in honestly trying. Saying that you want something is different than physically and mentally going after it. Stop talking and confidently take what you want. The journey towards self-confidence starts with making the simple decision to try.

The most important factor in acquiring confidence is to be comfortable with who you are. For the person in the mirror, learn to live with that person and immediately start thinking positively about yourself. If you want to unlock the potential for confidence, then accept 100% of who you are. After all, you are all that you’ve got and you can only truly depend on yourself. When you 100% accept who you are you will be quicker to move forward in life and in your endeavors. Not proud of your past? Do your best to put it behind you. It is the past, you can’t change it, so don’t let it get in the way of your future, goals, or happiness.

(NOTE: Confidence is not arrogance. If you are awesome, people will tell the world for you. You don’t need to declare it to the world. That makes you look like an ass. Who you are is how people will remember you. How do you want to be remembered?)

Use your mind! 
Utilize positive mental imagery in training and competition. Imagine yourself winning, standing on the podium for the gold medal! Visualize making every attempt. In your mind practice squatting that PR dozens, hundreds, or thousands of times before training/competing. You can also visualize pushing the bar through the ceiling in the bench press! Imagine yourself destroying weights. Believe that you are powerful, don’t think about being powerful, KNOW that you are. Picture every situation as an opportunity to improve yourself and progress. Think practice is perfect? Anyone can practice. Not everyone can progress and improve. PROGRESS IS PERFECT. It builds positive momentum and creates an unstoppable force of positivity. A freight train of confidence is capable of doing some incredible things.

Stop caring about what is loaded on the bar 
If there is one thing that can improve your training it is this. Many athletes overthink about the weight and let it get into their heads. Chances are people have lifted what you are attempting several times over. It became possible for them…why can’t it become possible for you over time? 600lbs doesn’t care about you and isn’t afraid of you. A lack of confidence can give birth to fear. Fear is failure. Don’t let what is loaded on the bar steal your confidence! Should you be mindless? No. Being mindful of the weight loaded is appropriate and should be understood for several reasons. However, there is no room for fear on the platform, so NEVER let the weight psyche you out. Instead, let it psyche you up! Attack the bar with confidence and focus on moving that weight as perfectly as possible. You may just surprise yourself.

When training and competing, nothing else exists 
Live, train, and compete in the present! Don’t worry about what you’ve done, or where you’ll be. Focus on the here and now. The only moments that we truly have some control over are the ones we are in right now! Harnessing the power of confidence in the now will have a profound effect on your life no matter the situation.

Strength athletes usually fall in two categories: Believers in the Possible and believers in the impossible. Neither mentality is wrong! Wherever their mentality lies will direct their confidence! How confident can you be if you are facing something that you know is impossible? If you think it’s impossible…it will be! If you know achievement is possible, it will be possible for you! Which category do you fall in?

Sure you can only truly depend on yourself, but for some people, they are lucky enough to gain confidence from external driving forces. Genuine encouragement is one of the strongest forces that build courage and confidence in most people. It is important that you surround yourself with helpful and encouraging people. For the sake of confidence, do you think it can be built effectively in a negative training environment? Or would confidence be better suited in an environment of positivity and encouragement? We are not talking sunshine and rainbows here, but environments where training partners help build each other physically and mentally with the end game being success.

Practice shattering goals
Carving out attainable yet challenging goals is a huge factor in building confidence. It allows the athlete to build momentum and learn how to set and break future goals. Remember the first time you set a satisfying personal best? Didn’t it make you feel more confident? Focus on simple goals and get accustomed to achieving them. Practice breaking goals. Get good at this. Success breeds more success. When your very being is so accustomed to winning over every goal great and small, you’ll increase the chances of success on the platform, miss fewer attempts, and have a more memorable career.

Don’t let losing set you back or shake your confidence. Not all losses are failures. Losses are an opportunity to learn. You only fail when you don’t learn from a loss or when you stop trying. Learning can build confidence.

Brady Stewart Bench Press

Brady Stewart has been a competitive powerlifter and bench press specialist since 2001. While he has had much success in full raw powerlifting as a former OPEN American USA Powerlifting Squat, Bench, and Total Record Holder (242lbs), surprisingly, Brady’s forte is single-ply IPF bench pressing. Brady has been a member of 3 USA World Bench Press Teams (IPF), a USA World Bench Press Team Gold Medalist (IPF 2009), and the 2013 USA Bench Press National Champion (264lbs). Brady’s best press to date is 322.5kgs (710.9lbs) making him the strongest and highest rated bench presser in the history of USA Powerlifting in Illinois and the second lightest man to bench press over 700lbs in USA Powerlifting. Brady is an editor for Reactive Training Systems and is the owner of, dedicated to promoting drug free strength athletics.


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