Overcoming Test Anxiety


Overcoming Test Anxiety

In Bluprint’s fitness model we take a movement that we develop for 6 weeks and test out our strength gains at the end of the 6 week cycle to see how we have improved. We plan for you to strengthen this movement with different weights, plus sets, rep ranges, tempos, and pauses. We plan our other programs throughout the week to build the main movement up with accessory work scattered throughout the programs. 

Truly a bulletproof approach to getting stronger at this ONE movement over a 6-week period. 

Seems pretty seamless if you ask me – and for confident lifters and beginner lifters it almost always is…

But there is one thing that this program does not and cannot account for – and that’s YOU – YOUR mindset – the pressure you put on YOURSELF – the external and internal stressors/factors in your life. The ultimate hurdle for me is ME. Anxious, overthinking, overwhelmed, overprepared, underconfident…ME. My brain says, “There’s a test? In front of people? What if I fail? What if they see me fail? How will I react? What if they see me cry? Will I appear weak?” I am their coach – they EXPECT me to always get better, to be stronger, to show my strength and confidence, to show that the programming works because it does. The pressure to show that our program works until you add a whole lot of ME into the equation. I have ALL the confidence in the program, so where do I slip through the cracks?

The boys tell me to turn the music up, to get mad, think of the “haters”, think about those people who don’t think you can, prove them wrong. I try to channel this energy but inside of me the anxious energy (aka the doubt) can take over like there are a million little voices running around in my head telling me I can’t and all my energy is used up to quiet them down and visualize a made lift. But with every visual of a make, one flash of a miss creeps into my head and I have to WORK to quiet the doubt and push it down deep. One of the reasons during lifts I prefer to put on quiet, slow, chill music is because the energy floating in my head is loud enough. The stress and adrenaline become too much and it takes everything I have to wooooosa. It makes complete sense – anxiety dwells on the past and dooms the future instead of being present and living in the moment. 

I don’t test my lifts in class because the pressure I put on myself is too overwhelming. As I have become a more “seasoned lifter” – what I mean by this is, I have convinced myself that my lifts are much closer to my strength potential so the little baby PRs are much harder to come by. I don’t say this to show that I can’t see strength growth but it’s just that much harder and takes so much focus and most of the time it’s not my muscles but my mind that controls my progress. I have to find ways to build my confidence and convince my mind that I am capable, I am strong, that I can. I have said this multiple times…you have likely heard me say it – “my weakness is my strength”. When I started saying this I was convinced that my muscles were the weakness. But the more I think about it my true weakness is my strength, but not my muscles…my mind. I allow the weakness of my mind, my lack of successful visualization, and my lack of belief and confidence to diminish my true muscle strength. 

Enough about the problem. Here is what I am doing to address the problem and focus on a solution:

  1. Use my resources – my coachy buddies. Flow charts. Advice (solicited or unsolicited;). I actually listen to what is said. Take cues and try to put them into practice.
  2. I make a plan and adjust the plan.
  3. I try to trick my mind into seeing success to force myself to believe. (Examples: Linear progression. Pounds to Kilograms.)
  4. Limit external stressors and control the things I can – get my sleeps, eat my foods, no booze, drink my waters.
  5. Be nice to myself. Visualize success without underestimating the power of failure being part of the process. (Watch my videos of success and smooth lifts.)
  6. Embrace the struggle and see it as an opportunity for growth.
  7. Mindfulness – Yoga – Breath Work – Positive Self Talk.

I am 100% a work in progress when it comes to this. I am sure many of my buddies can relate to some of these same feelings. Trust you are not alone and I am happy to offer help where I can…BUT again, I am a work-in-progress. One of my favorite reminders that I actually got from a fellow BluCru OG: “There is no rush”, if you stay the path, continue to grow without giving up, success will come, you just have to figure out how to get there and embrace the lessons along the way. 

Happy lifting!

Coach J