The Psychology of the Greatest Strongman on Earth

Building greater strength and sports skill with meditation.

I was recently watching a video of a seminar Brian Shaw was holding and in it, he was talking about how he believes he still has untapped potential, even for him, based on psychology and mindset training and so has started to take meditation more seriously as a tactic for improving as a strongman.

I found this to be incredibly reaffirming to hear from Brian as mindset training and a deep focus on the psychological aspect of sports has been something I’ve studied and practiced since before the beginning of my own strongman journey and is a primary focus for the athletes that I now coach. 

How to build an unbeatable mindset for strongman is one of the four core areas that athletes can improve in for becoming better at their sport and that I go into great detail about in the book and training manual Seasons of Strongman which will be released in just a few weeks. 

The following is from the chapter “You're Only At 40%” that includes a section that looks at the science of meditation and how it can be applied to make you a better strongman or strongwoman athlete.

 Kudos to the artist behind this drawing, it's the best thing ever.

Kudos to the artist behind this drawing, it's the best thing ever.

You’re Only At 40%

Meditation

While the other beginner mindset tactics mostly come from being proactive with training and getting experience in actual strongman or strongwoman competitions, the final tactic to begin to work on from the early stages of your journey as a strongman or strongwoman is to practice meditation.

This might sound like the most un-hardcore advice you can imagine when it comes to strongman or strongwoman, but it happens to be one of the most valuable tools in the whole package of success for this sport.

When it comes to the later practices we will be working on in developing the mindset of a professional athlete and optimizing performance on competition day, you’ll begin to better appreciate why you’ve started meditating early on in your journey and the value it brings to you.

When starting out with meditation it helps to get some instruction with various guided meditation practices.

There are many great apps that can be downloaded and used to help you figure out the best way to make meditation work for you. Headspace has a great “Take 10” introductory course to meditation that will teach you the basics. There is also an introductory course within the Calm app. (Both of these apps are subscription-based but the introductory material is free and very well designed so whether you decide to go off on your own or not, they are worth checking out for the free guided meditations).

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, apps like Insight Timer will allow you to explore different guided meditations, as well as set up a simple timer to keep you on track.

While there are many benefits to learning to sit still and focus on your breath, some people are more tightly wound and will find it too difficult to gain any benefit from a sitting meditation practice, at least in the beginning. Some athletes, and people, in general, prefer to practice meditation while standing, walking, or following a physical practice of yoga. Experiment with what works best for you in building present state awareness and mindfulness.

At the very minimum, it is best to meditate for 10 minutes per day, although you’ll see more benefit from 20 minutes, even if you have to do it in two 10-minute sessions.

Just like with training and nutrition, consistency is the most important variable when it comes to meditating. It needs to be developed into a daily practice that is done for months before you see real benefit and years before becoming proficient.

As with all the other factors you are developing in becoming a better strongman or strongwoman, be patient and don’t give up.

Seasons of Strongman will be published on March 2.