Fight Camp Mentality How to Bring it to Your Lifting & Competition
written by Anna Brown
I’m a lifter but my sister Jess is a world class black belt in Brazillian Jui Jitsu. I’ve often lifted in gyms with people training in martial arts. I’ve had coaches who trained fighters and I’ve passed lengthy rest periods between sets by chatting with all types of fighters. Something I’ve often heard them refer to is the “Fight Camp”. You may or may not know that any fighter heading into a competition will enter into what is commonly referred to as a “Fight Camp”. I’ve always thought that this was a physical place that fighters took themselves to. A place they went in order to totally immerse themselves in the task at hand, preparing to peak for a fight…. I thought is was somewhere you went, an environment of intense focus, practice and mindfulness. A place designed to get the absolute best out of you for competition. I was wrong though. A Fight Camp can absolutely be a place you take yourself to but it can also be an environment that you create yourself, at home, in your brain and in your gym.
Jess and I recently discussed this concept on our new podcast (see end for details) and put our heads together to come up with a list of 8 things that any one of us can implement into our next competition preparation. These are things which we believe are essential in order to elevate your competition performance to the next level.
Mindset & Music
Leading up to the competition you will be following a specific program which will have you building your strength and honing your technique. But you will be letting yourself down if you are also not working at developing the optimal mindset for competition.
The first thing you need to realize is the success starts with one thing. You need to know EXACTLY what you wan out of your upcoming competition. This is essential regardless of whether you are novice or a high level competitor, whether you want to win the whole damn thing, or whether you want to walk away knowing you did your absolute best. You need to know exactly what you’re training for each and every day. Your “why” needs to be absolutely crystal clear. You should be able to see it every time you close your eyes, every time you step into the gym, every training session. One of the best ways to strengthen this “why” - once you have it - is through visualization. You can implement this during quiet times and even integrate it into your training sessions by before every set asking; “Why do you want this?” or “How bad do you want this” and then… “Show me”
If you don’t do it already - Meditation is definitely something you should consider adding to your training plan. I recommend the app Headspace. Meditation has many benefits including assisting with focus, helping to keep calm, raising awareness and helping you to not engage with negative thoughts.
Intensity is important in your training and during competition, but a calm, focused, laser-like approach can be even more devastating. Daily meditation will help with this. Even if you only manage to meditate for ten minutes, that small investment has long lasting benefits.
Another effective tool for visualization and developing a “kill switch” is music. You want to illicit a response from your body you need to train this, it doesn’t just happen.
We suggest creating two playlists.
a good juju playlist - which I use for the on the way to the gym and warm ups. It helps me to remember the fun and get excited.
The other playlist is my “go time” music. I teach myself to switch my brain to “annihilation mode”, napalm the weights, go full throttle, kill all the things…you get the idea.
You’ll need to switch back to your good juju playlist once you’ve finished your work because staying in the “napalm mode” will be unnecessarily taxing on your nervous system (or it should be if you’re doing it right).
If you’re like me, social media and particularly the accounts of the women you will be competing against are a recipe for baaaaad juju. So much bad juju. You can have had an amazing day of training, hit PBs in the gym, leave feeling invincible and then log onto your social media accounts…and have all of your good juju undone by comparing yourself with someone else.
Facebook gives you the option to “take a break” from people. You can resume your celebration of their achievements after you compete. With instagram, you can unfollow if you need to. The earth won’t stop spinning and no feelings will be hurt.
Remember that a Fight Camp is about maintaining the integrity of YOUR game. Aiding your performance and protecting your positivity through tough training which will inevitably have its good days and bad days.
If you’re the strange type of creature who pushes harder when faced with the triumphs of your competitors, go for it. More power to you sister!
I make sure that I am surrounded by images of women and moments that immediately trigger my "why". I change the screen savers on my desktop background and phone. Its simple, but an almost constant reminder to myself which over the Fight Camp becomes almost subliminal. *Get it* *Get it* *Get it*...you get the picture.
Nutrition is not just something that needs to be monitored by those of us that struggle to get to a certain weight class. Proper nutrition is imperative for proper recovery. You can track you macros if that’s your thing or just try to make sure that generally each of your meals has enough protein and carbohydrates to give you the energy you need and to repair your muscles in order for you to attack your next session. A solid meal plan is essential for fueling your training.
Prioritize your recovery during “fight camp” – This will help you to avoid injury and burn out as you get closer to your peak. There are a heap of ways to aid recovery. Choose some and integrate them into your training schedule - ice baths, spas & saunas, massage or cupping/acupuncture, stretching, sleep, eats, rolling out… do whatever you need to to feel ready for the intensity of the next session.
Develop a Game Plan
Either by yourself or with the assistance of your coach or training partner, you should formulate a game plan. Look at your competition, what are the events? When do they happen? Your game plan should take your strengths and weaknesses into consideration. You can develop a strategy that gives you the best chance of reaching your desired outcome - whether that’s winning or achieving a personal best.
Do yourself a favour and talk to your partner (family and good friends) about the upcoming weeks. Explain the Fight Camp concept. They need to know that “Fight Camp” is not forever, it’s a short period of time where you need to prioritize some things in order to fulfill your hopes and dreams. Trust me, it’s important to the longevity of your personal relationships that these people know where you’re coming from. Otherwise, they are likely to think you have morphed into a totally selfish cranky mole…just saying.
If there is someone you like training with, seek them out. Vibe off them and stroke each other’s egos. All the good juju, all the time. The opposite is also true, stay away from the drainers, keep headphones handy and your eyes down to avoid contact.
Training your body is important, but sharpening your mind is crucial. While you are building stronger lifts, try using some of these elements to cultivate a more focused mind. Give mental preparation the same effort that you do your physical training because when your body wants to give up, your mind can take you further. And we’re all about chasing those hopes and dreams baby <3
Jess Fraser of Australian Girls in Gi and Anna Brown of The Barbelle Club are soon to unleash The Deload - A brand new Podcast which features all of the talks about all of the things women and training.
Follow our Facebook page for launch details! Much excite!