The Power of Belief

The Power of Belief

Jun 19, 2012

The Power of Belief

By: Mike Tuchscherer 

            I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… we’ve seen all sorts of training programs work.  When we’re getting to the crux of what works and for whom it works, we’re really looking for common threads between the programs.  This is where the over-arching principles of training come into play.  Things like the principle of specificity, the law of individual differences, etc.  The trouble is, things like this only seem to make sense to guys who have been around for a while.  A beginner or intermediate might know what these principles mean (i.e. they have “identification” level knowledge… sometimes better).  But the experienced lifter can put it into practice.  This is mastery.  And I am already getting off topic…

Looking for common threads in training programs has produced great results for us in the past.  We’ve seen guys switch from “Westside” inspired programs to “Sheiko” programs and make great results.  We’ve seen guys go the opposite way and switch from “Sheiko” to “Westside” and get great results there, too.  And it’s not just those two, but all manner of training styles.  This has led us to the idea that maybe the program itself isn’t necessarily superior but the switch between programs that presents a new stimulus and elicits further gains.  That’s the kind of common thread we look for.

We’ve kind of touched on the power of belief before, but not in enough detail.  You see, this is one of those common threads that is SO common and SO prevalent in successful programs that it’s easy to overlook or understate.  So let me attempt to dispel any misconceptions about it…


If you don’t believe a program will work for you, then it won’t.

If you do believe a program will work for you, then it will.


Sure, physiological laws are still in play, but without belief, it won’t amount to much.  Science likes to ignore belief because it’s hard to quantify, but we all know it’s important.  Abajiev emphasized belief in the success of his program.  Dr Hatfield emphasizes belief as well.  Actually, “emphasized” is too weak of a word.  This is a requirement.  And it’s not just believing like you believe in good luck or something.  It’s not like you kinda believe the training will work for you.  To really take advantage of the power of your own belief, it should be unabashed conviction that you will improve.  Totally sold out, all-in conviction.  “Progress” may even be a boring topic for you to think about because whether or not it will happen is, as Dr Hatfield said, a forgone conclusion!  If you have that, then whatever you do will probably work to some extent.  Maybe it won’t be optimal, maybe it will be.  But it will work.


If you don’t have that kind of conviction, how do you get it?  I think the first step is education.  Different people obviously respond differently.  Some guys will need to be educated in the physiological processes that will occur when they undertake a program. Other guys need to be educated in all the previous successes that this program has produced.  No matter what your flavor is, you need to educate yourself in the basis of your belief in the system.

After education, I think you need to be able to see yourself as having those same results or having those same effects.  That’s crucial to understand and believe that it can and will happen to you too.

Coaching belief is a difficult thing to do.  Getting belief, also known as buy-in, is a huge leadership challenge for coaches.  Even those of you who are self-coached will face this.  Mental toughness is a factor in this as well.  To me, being mentally tough is holding on to those beliefs and convictions even if there is some short term reward to give them up.  It’s easy to believe when all is going well, but is that really belief?  How much belief is there if at the first sign of trouble, you question, doubt, and change the plan?

As an aside on the topic of mental toughness… I’m not talking about this macho bravado where you think about what a scary dude you are.  To me, the epitome of mental toughness are the guys who do something difficult… something amazing… and it never even occurs to them to do something easier.  Not even as a passing thought.  I’m not sure if this is something you can teach or even if you’d want to teach it, but that’s a topic for another day.

I’m not sure I’ve done this topic justice in terms of conveying the importance of belief in a program, in a coach, etc.  This really is the most basic element of all successful programs.  If you don’t have it, you’d better find a way to get it or find a way to make better use of your time.  It’s that important.  We talked about how powerful the “switch” is.  Well, each time a person “switches” programs, they are almost certainly switching to something that they believe in more.  It would be illogical not to.  I think the more you look, the more critical you’ll find belief to be.


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