The Group Effect, Expectation and Strength
Article by Logan Christopher, Legendary Strength
In this article I’m going to share a secret of strength that is rarely if ever spelled out in detail. Yet if you utilize these factors in your favor you can easily and dramatically increase the strength that you have. What I’m talking about is training with partners or a group that is strong, where the expectation of strength is high. Doing this, and this alone, will almost assure that you become strong yourself.
I recently read The Strongest Man that Ever Lived about the oldtime strongman Louis Cyr. The author George Jowett talks about what led to Cyr being so strong, and not only him but several others coming out of the same area, Quebec. Here is an except below, of which I’ve highlighted some of the most important parts.
“The greatest fundamental that I have come to recognize is – environment. This condition more than any other makes men what they are. In itself it is the product of conditions or circumstances. The conditions and circumstance of Canada as found by its first settlers, were what determined the real hardiness of the future Canadian. Only the fittest survived, and necessity set for them a task of toil. It developed the true spirit of the pioneer, and from that such a man as Louis Cyr sprung. Among them, strength is a natural acquisition, they do not look for it, they expect it, and taking great pride in the amount they exhibit, the element of combat evolved. Louis Cyr is not the only great man Quebec had, there are many others, but the great Louis was the greatest of them all. Further investigation proved that Louis was advertising the fact that in the same province were other man of powerful bone and sinew, more capable of comparison with himself than some of the luminaries of Europe. Louis had already produced the prodigious Horace Barre…little Bourette…remember his brother, Peter, as a lad of nineteen was invincible as a middle weight. All at one time we find four superman produced from a population that then numbered not much over a million people. It was environment that created them, but it was Louis that created the environment. He inspired others, and they accustomed themselves to consider certain poundage as being ordinary, that really shocked the best products of other nations. Well, we always follow a leader and usually find that the magnitude of his brilliance is a cause for our continued striving. The brilliancy of Leader Louis was that he daily reduced the extraordinary in feats of man power to the commonplace.”
Strength is in the Air
I know in my own life I’ve experienced this many times myself. When I first got into bending using the Ironmind bag of nails the whites and greens where no problem. The yellow was a huge jump and I didn’t see it in my foreseeable future. Then my friend Tyler bent it. I was amazed…and within a week I followed suit. If Tyler hadn’t bent it I know it would have been at least a few months for me to do it on my own.
After the first Super Human Workshop I was hanging out with Chuck Halbakken and Bud Jeffries. If you don’t know Chuck he’s one of the top card tearers in the world. Just being around him I did a few firsts myself in his gym like a deck and a half, a deck behind the back and a vertical tear. Being around us he was able to tear two decks vertically for the first time.
I don’t know how much it’s like this today, but this website got its name because it was a crew of guys who pushed each other on. I would bet that anyone who came into the crew got much stronger quickly to get to at least a base level of strength on all kinds of feats. And how many PR’s fell for others right after someone did an amazing feat, related or not?
In all the workshops I go to and put on myself it’s always the same. In the recent Wizards of Strength workshop I was teaching other people how to unlock more power simply using their mind. PR’s fell left and right. Afterwards I was pumped up. I hadn’t even done my drills myself, only guiding other people through them, but I did a back lever and held it for 10 seconds a new PR for me at the time. I couldn’t even total the number of new PR’s that occurred that weekend alone. PR’s were in the air. Basically all you needed to do was be there and you’d set new records!
Why is it that so many of the best power lifters in the world train at Westside? Is it because they have the best training techniques? That is certainly a big part of it. But it’s also because so many of the best power lifters train there. The expectation effect and seeing the incredibly difficult done on a daily basis is probably as much a cause as the specific training methods they use!
Beliefs in Possibility vs. Impossibility
What is behind this effect? I’d say that the biggest part of it has to do with beliefs. As Henry Ford is attributed with saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
There is no doubt that this is true in your training. By seeing other people easily do feats of strength, lift weights, or practice skills you can’t do, you see that its possible. When they encourage you and tell you that you can easily do this that confidence bleeds over into you.
Most beliefs are kept on an unconscious level. They can be changed although many people don’t know how to do this. Here’s another example of how powerful a simple change in beliefs can be in the immediate effects it can bring.
I was working on freestanding handstand pushups. I had never hit more than a single rep in my life on this exercise. While doing a few singles I realized that I had a belief that this exercise was hard. And you know what I had plenty of data to back that up as a fact, as it had been a struggle to get this far in them. Still I realize that beliefs can be looked at as true/not true or you can look at them as simply finding the most useful ones for you. So right then and there I changed this belief. What happened?
I hit a double and was stoked. Then I hit two more doubles. I worked on my beliefs that this was an easy exercise some more and I went and did a triple. This shows the difference between possibility thinking vs. impossibility thinking, or its a struggle thinking.
Training with really strong people has a way of opening up your beliefs way beyond what you’d even expect yourself. So the question is…
How can you use this effect to your benefit?
1. Get a training partner or partners at your level or beyond you
If you have someone that is right at your level, where you’re better at some things and they’re better at others you can both grow stronger at the same time.
Even better is if you have someone better than you. Not only can they often give coaching which helps but you’ll be working to catch up to them, even if just subconsciously. Depending on how much further they are away from you it can take a long time, but given that time it will happen. Unfortunately if you’re better than everyone you train with you’ll likely find the opposite effect and will need to be pushed another way.
For a long time trained alone and I had great success doing it. But now I seek out to train with other people just so I can have more fun in my training and get the benefits this brings.
2. Getting a coach
There are some different factors you want in a coach. If possible I look for someone that has done the thing I’m looking to do. Sure there are some exceptions to this rule but do you want to take fat loss advice from an overweight person?
On the flip side, just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they can teach. The truth is teaching is a skill that takes practice itself, and without is all that skill and strength can‘t be transferred except by example.
3. Get around the strongest people you can whenever you can even if only for short periods of time.
I mentioned before the workshops I’ve held. Pretty much all the attendees always hit PR’s and most of the time lots of them. Melody Scheonfeld who has come to 4 of our big weekend workshops over the past two years certainly does. At our last one not only did she hit a PR in the kettlebell press with 22kg one day, but later she finally hit her big goal of 24kg the next.
When you combine the group energy, expectation of success and strength, with great coaching you can get really great results. On that note I want to tell you about something that’s coming up fast…
This one is even bigger and better than ever before, as we‘ve brought in a number of the strongest people in the world. Guys like…
Donnie Thompson the first and only power lifter to total over 3000 lbs. Think you can learn anything about getting stronger from him?
Scott Weech is probably the best raw power lifter on the planet. He also competes in strongman and has the world record in the Axle Press with 423 lbs!
Whit Baskin has held a world record in the strongman feat of a car hold for a number of years. And he plans to beat it after having come back from a crippling injury he shouldn’t have survived.
James Henderson is the best bench presser in the world.
Dru Patrick is a champion power lifter and has done some dumbbells lifts no one else has even come close on.
On top of guys like Bud Jeffries, Chuck Halbakken and myself who I’ve already mentioned.
And let’s not forget Noah Jeffries, Bud’s son, who at 16 years of age is one of the strongest benders in the world.
This is truly a mastermind of strength. Just being around these guys I’m going to feel weak. Sure my specialties are a little different. But the truth is this event is going to bring up my game in a big way.
It’s coming up fast and if you want to be there we still have a few spots at the ridiculously low price we’re offering this for. Click here for the full details.
Also be sure to watch the video to see just how badass all these guys are. This video is sure to get you pumped up!
I hope you can make it to our workshop as there won’t ever be one like this again. But even if you can’t be sure to utilize this effect in your training as much as you can.
Logan Christopher runs Legendary Strength where he specializes in bodyweight training, kettlebells, feats of strength and the mental side of strength. He’s offering 5 special reports on these topics for anyone that signs up on his website.