Max Effort Psych Up Psychological Review


The video shown above is one of my favourite videos. It displays training at the gym with psychological, behavioural and physical factors. In this review, I will be commenting solely on the psychological factor of self-efficacy expectations (confidence). After all, the title is suggesting that it’s a psych up. For a behavioural review from a coach’s perspective, read Dave Tate’s review.

From what I gather from the video, the person performing the squat is Matt. He is attempting to set a personal record (PR) of weight squatted. His goals are clearly documented in the video. Frank Yang is the man who is doing most of the psych up, especially at 1:32 in the video.

There are 4 sources of self-efficacy expectations:
1) Personal Accomplishment
2) Vicarious Experience (Watching similar others perform successfully)
3) Social Persuasion
4) Emotional Arousal

Matt’s performance goals are set and are illustrated in the video prior to his attempt. This goal is in his mind before and while he is performing the squat.

Here’s how Matt performed with my comments:

  • 215 lbs – Matt – Easy warm up
  • 245 lbs x 1 – Martin – Success (Vicarious Experience)
  • 255 lbs x 1 – Martin – Success (Vicarious Experience)
  • 235 lbs x 2 – Matt – Success (Personal Accomplishment)
  • 245 lbs x 2 – Matt – Success (Personal Accomplishment)
  • 275 lbs PR – Martin – Way too heavy, Frank attempts to psych up Martin by screaming (Emotional Arousal)
  • 255 lbs PR – Matt – Again psych up from Frank, but failure to complete squat (Emotional Arousal)
  • 255 lbs PR – Matt – Second try – Matt looks in mirror, engages in self-talk with social persuasion from Frank – Successful – Big achievement (Self-talk + social persuasion + emotional arousal)
  • 265 lbs PR – Matt – More screaming psych up, but failure (Emotional Arousal + Previous Accomplishment)

Why was this psych up so effective and how did Matt reach a new PR?
Matt had all 4 sources that enhanced his self-efficacy expectations. He started with a warm up and then watched Martin successfully complete a few heavy repetitions. Matt successfully completes several repetitions, increasing his confidence. Personal accomplishment is most significant in increasing self-efficacy expectations. Emotional arousal can only do so much, but Frank does a wonderful job at this by maximizing the use of it. Frank is also consistently persuading Matt that he can do it.

What could have increased Matt’s self-efficacy expectations (confidence)?
By not having Martin attempt the 275 lbs PR, Matt may have done better. Consequently, Matt observed failure from someone similar and it also lowered Frank’s social persuasion value.

In brief, the video demonstrates a successful psych up. When training, it’s about pushing yourself and putting in effort. To be successful (in the gym), you need to work hard to gain personal accomplishments and have others psych you up. That’s why spotters are good. They ensure safety and help you improve.

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