Updated: May 30, 2019
"Aggression" is not a dirty word. It is an emotion that is felt in the body, just like any other emotion, only with aggression, you an kick major ass while training.
When we are about to perform an action in a training session, it is always important to be in the right setting. By “Setting”, I don’t only mean the physical setting (predisposition), or environmental setting, AKA your gym buddies yelling at you so hard they almost spit out their pancreas on the floor. I’m referring to the mental setting — The state of mind, mood or emotion that is roaming within your system in the few seconds before you approach an exercise.
Your state of mind might just determine the entirety of the set - it can affect how focused you are, how powerful and high quality of movement you will have, how much you reps you will pull off, and many more!
In dynamic training schools that demand explosive power generation like the Weightlifting, Athletics, Contemporary dance or Climbing, using aggression is a very efficient way of achieve amazing power outputs, and that is what I wish to discuss in this article.
I will show you how to access your “Aggression pool” at will, and use it for your own benefit as a mean to increase workload, boost speed, improve performance, and make your training experience hella more interesting not only physically, but also cognitively and emotionally.
Meditation is a Must
Meditation is a great tool to pinpoint, identify, and utilize raw emotion energy. We can look inside and find the “energetic signature” of a certain emotion, then convert the Emotional energy present into Kinetic energy (movement).
Some nice examples to that can be found in yoga practice for example, in which we try to be relaxed, breath and focus. Or when we run a marathon, we try to be as calm, flowing, monotonous and free as possible. But unlike the previous two examples, whenever we approach an exercise that requires burst of extreme strength like sprinting, lifting a heavy load or jumping very high, we need to tap into a different type emotion so we can create large bursts of strength. Bursts of strength are primarily affiliated with the spiking of our central nervous system (CNS). One example for such an emotion is none other than, you guessed it - Aggression.
Aggression can be described as that feeling of blood flowing faster in your body, of your eyes open wide as if you just saw a cheetah sprinting right at you, that feeling like you want to scream, like something in you needs to move RIGHT NOW and FAST, the surges of adrenaline and intense currents of energy in your body — that is what I mean by “aggression”.
Let’s get mildly scientific here: Consider the first law of thermodynamics, also known as the Law of Conservation of Energy: It states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. In other words, within your body, that is an isolated system, energy can only be converted to another type of energy. Energy comes in many forms: Heat, electrical, chemical, kinetic….
We can easily convert heat energy that we absorb from the food we eat (Calories) into kinetic energy for instance. Your body does that for you every day, even if you don’t know it is doing it. Food = Calories = Energy.
That is basically the definition of the word "Metabolism".
If you keep the first law of thermodynamics in mind, and add a dash of meditation and philosophy of mind on top, you will look inside yourself and notice that feelings, emotions and sensations also “feel” like something inside of us. An actual, physical feeling. Normally, we ignore this feeling, and proceed to "tagging" the sensation that we feel with a word like “fear”, “pleasure”, "excitement" etc. Then we try to either keep the feeling going if it feels good, or make it go away if it feels bad.
If you stop naming these emotions “love”, “joy”, “anger”, “sadness”, (You may take a look my article entitled 'Get Productive Using Meditation' explaining this idea) you can easily notice that your feelings and sensations are firstly "raw energy" that runs through your body — just like heat. The emotion called “Aggression” is no different.
If you are still with me, you are probably now saying to yourself “so what, this guy is actually saying I can convert my emotions and turn them into a movement?”.
Well, that is exactly what I am saying.
And this is one of the many fruits reaped by combining meditation into your life as an amateur or pro athlete; Looking inside, and converting emotion energy to kinetic energy.
If you look at videos of powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters getting “spiked up” in competitions, you will see that right before a heavy lift, someone behind these giants is hitting their shoulders, slapping their faces, shouting at them, or in other words — “pumping” the aggression within them.
What this does is triggering the CNS, pumping this emotion energy in them, building it up more and more, and these athletes, using epic concentration and skill, are holding on and building up this energy so when the crucial lift time is due — they will instantly convert all the stacked up aggression to kinetic energy and make the lift. I don’t suggest for a second that all powerlifters are actually Master yogis in disguise. The truth unfortunately can’t be more far fetched. I’m suggesting however, that they do it intuitively, without realizing they are doing it. And they do it well.
It is enough to look at Eddie Hall’s 500kg deadlift video to see that the man is in deep, aggressive meditation before the lift, even if he doesn’t call it meditation.
Please, before continuing, if you still have not even a spark of a clue to what I am referring to, Look at This Video, and return to the article.
So,now that you have watched this amazing video (hopefully), here are the instructions to how to tap into those aggression pools:
Preferably starting 10–40 seconds before the exercise, start with some breaths (I like to use Ujjayi pranayama breath, but any form will do) and step into the area the exercise is taking place (e.g. takeoff point, squat cage). Close your eyes, and imagine something that triggers you a bit, maybe even pisses you off. I wouldn’t go full-on angry, just somewhat triggered. (A good trick is using music — some songs can get your aggression meter really pumped up. For me listening to Pantera does the trick really well. At any rate, it is really individual, so whatever works for you). After a few moments of doing this, you will already feel the energy present in your body.
Observe this feeling, feel it with all you are and start using your breath to “pump up” this energy. The actual physical feeling. You will feel it moving across your body, to your arms and legs, to your neck, in your forehead, in your chest…maintain this focus, remain in this feeling. You might feel goosebumps in certain areas, or tingling around your limbs and shoulders. That is a great indicator that the aggression is surging and Adrenalin pumping.
When you feel like you are pumped enough, don’t hesitate - Let go of all barriers and BOOM! Feel how all this energy you have stored in your body is being transmuted into the movement instantly.
Using this neat trick gives you access to unimaginable stores of energy, and when used correctly and efficiently, the effect on performance is a massive one. If you ever even so slightly tapped in to your “aggression pool”, you will know what I’m talking about.
This is also an amazing exercise in terms of body awareness, and energy manipulation within the body. The ability to "move" energy inside your body is an amazing skill to have, and is useful in many more situations. When I have energy that I feel like I need to move, or let out of my body, instead of screaming into a pillow or starting a fight — I go train. The best workouts are the ones that have a “theme” or a purpose to them.
So my final tip to you is: If you deal with any sport that requires bursts of strength or speed (eg. climbing, running, parkour, any form of light athletics, bodybuilding, powerlifting, football, rugby, basketball, etc.) — In your next session, right before approaching the action itself, take a moment and look inside. Tap into that hidden power, feel the energy moving like a wild animal in a cage, and when the time is right — BOOM! Let it out! See what happens.