How to Manipulate Psychological Arousal to Make Big Lifts

Last week we discussed the power of nasal breathing when not training as an immediate way to increase performance and recovery. Today we’re talking about another change you can make to see instant improvement, especially in your big lifts. 

In order to heed my advice, we’ll need to get clear on a term. When I mention psychological arousal, I’m referring to the emotional hyping often seen before a big lift. You know what I mean: yelling, smacking yourself in the face, having six friends slap you on your back, doing a modified Haka.. you get it. 

Let’s be clear, psychological arousal does increase performance. 

That said, I want to let you in on a cheat code. If you take all your big lifts without psychological arousal, you’ll be able to benefit physically from the training, experience less stress, and you’ll enjoy the confidence that you’ve got “more in the tank.”

The street racing scene made Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) a household name with the help of the Fast and Furious franchise. NOS is a performance enhancing super fuel that rockets even the fastest cars even faster with a short, emergency-like boost of energy. It works well when you use it, but it must be used sparingly. Race cars generally have one boost available and when it’s gone it’s gone.

Psychological arousal when lifting is like the NOS button from Fast & Furious. If you’re pressing the red button every week for every big lift, you’re redlining your system and it’s not sustainable. 

Remember, stress is stress is stress whether it’s physical or psychological. This principle is so paramount that the most notorious powerlifting team in history, Westside Barbell, would build up to two separate one rep maxes each week. Using psychological arousal, however, was forbidden. 

They saved their NOS button for competition. Their world records speak for themselves.

1/31/22 WOD


Complete 5 rounds for quality of:

3 Barbell Bench Press
8 Plyo Push Ups
5 Medball Chest Passes

Then, EMOM 15

A) 8 Landmine RDLs (ea)
B)  8 Lateral Box Jump
C) 15 Medball V-Ups



Complete the following for time:

40 Cal Assault Bike
800m Run
40 Power Snatches (115/75)

Then, complete 3 rounds for quality of:

:75 Plank Hold
-Rest :75-