See if you can pick out my top played artists and which ones are my 17 yr. old sister-in-law’s top played.

Top Played Artists # 1

i see Stars

I See Stars



Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson

Motionless in White

Motionless in White


Top Played Artists # 2



Taylor 1989

Taylor Swift

Colbie Caillat Ablum

Colbie Caillat


Katy Perry

If you guessed mine was #2 your right.  A 17 yr. old girl is more rugged than I am.  That’s cool with me because:

1) I’m the one crushing PR’s every week and

2) It gives me someone to go to concerts with.

(Side Note: Lamb of God, Slipknot, Marilyn Manson and Sevendust are the next 4 on my list.  See, I’m rugged as well.)

The whole point of this emasculation of myself is to show that there are different ways to get ready for a heavy lift.  Some guys like to slapped and yell, while others like the delightfully intoxicating tunes of Taylor Swift.

So how does Taylor Swift help me hit PR’s every week?  Because:

1) She is delightful and

2) She helps me focus.

Although, I’m new to the strength training game, there are a few commonalities across weight lifting in general that I’ve found.  Regardless if your lifting for size, strength or fat loss these 5 things should be done before every lift for maximal benefit.


Like Nomar Garciaparra, I always have the same few things I do before attempting a 1RM lift.  For the deadlift, I stretch my calves for 5 sec and then flex them for 3 sec.  I then set up at the bar and stretching my hamstrings for 5 sec then flex them for 3 sec.  This type of stretching is call PNF stretching.  Or proprioceptive muscular facilitation if you are going on to Jeopardy anytime soon.  PNF stretching activates opposing muscles (hamstring and quad for example) and allows for more of a stretch in the muscle.  This is great for not pulling anything because of tight muscles or overcompensation in other areas causing injury.

Try PNF stretching for yourself, it’s a game changer.  Just 5 sec stretch followed immediately by flexing that same muscle, then go lift things up.

While I’m stretching I’m going through the rest of this list.  This routine never waivers when I attempt a heavy lift.  All this while listening to “Wildest Dreams”.

Use the rest of this list to come up with your routine.  I would advise against static stretching alone (just stretching the calves without the flexing right after) before any lift.  This limits the amount of power you can generate right after.



“90% of the game is half mental” ~John Madden

If anyone can tell me what that means I would greatly appreciate it.  I’ve been trying to figure this out for years.

While going through my PNF hamstring stretch, I am already mentally lifting the weight.  I focus on perfect form and seeing myself from a 3rd person perspective lifting the weight.  Sounds weird, but I never said I wasn’t.

This is my mental checklist:

My setup (shoulders back, lower back flat, weight on heels)

When I should drive my heels into the ground,

When I should extend my legs,

When I should start standing straight up

When I should look to see who’s watching me crush it again like a boss. (Yes, I actually do this)

Mentally going through the lift is 90% of the work.  The other half is physically lifting the weight.  Mentally see yourself lifting the weight, with perfect form of course, and the lift itself will seem easier.


This is where T-Swizzle comes heavily into play.  It will make sense in a minute.

My gym mix varies from screaming and yelling, or as someone put it when I was younger “It sounds like they are banging 2 skulls together”, to heart break songs.  The songs all correlate to a feeling or an experience.  Whether it be shitty friends, bad breakups or work stress, every feeling or past experience has a few songs associated with it.  This helps me tap into the feelings and ride that emotional wave to aid the lift.

I’ve always loved taking negatives and turning it into a positive for me.

“You’re not cool enough to hang around with anymore.”  Thanks, I used that for my 175lb shoulder press.

“You’re not the guy I want you to be.”  Sweet, I just used that to bench 255lb.

“You should stop lifting heavy after your surgery.”  Nah, I just used that to deadlift 375lb.

I’ve always used this approach, kind of like the quiet before the storm.  Other guys prefer to get slapped in the face, others yell, some guys walk around like they are on the prowl.  Whatever your approach to psyching yourself up is, use it, keep it fresh and have something that you can easily trigger that emotion.



Now it’s time to physically lift the weight.  By this point you’ve stretched, mentally lifted the weight and have brought yourself back to that girl/guy in high school that broke your heart.

Grip it and rip it.  When you’re lifting focus on the form of the movement and not on the weight.  By focusing on form the amount of reps won’t get to you.  The “Oh shit I have 8 more reps to go” feeling won’t hit you.  Focus on the muscles required to lift the weight and then lower the weight.  When you focus on the reps, you either

Have bad form to get them done, or

You tap out because it hits you that you are lifting this much weight for this many reps.

Keep your focus on the form and all that noise goes away.

After you rack the weight don’t forget to look around to see that massive lift you just finished.  Very important.



Hydration is key.  After a set, get a sip of water.  It will help you recover quicker and give you more energy for the next set.

See, the ridiculous title had some value.  Form your own routine.  Taylor and Katy might not be work for you like they do for me.  You might be more of a Barry Manilow or a Tupac person.  Regardless of who tickles your fancy, use them to help you get in the mindset to crush it every week.  Like John Madden said about football “90% of the game is half mental”.

I’d like to hear what you guys/gals listen to when you’re at the gym or some of your routines to get ready for a lift/presentation/speech.  Comment below to share.

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