The flow in powerlifting – images from Mauro Spinardi

The state of “flow” has been discussed in studies about sports such as swimming, mountaineering, among others. “Flow” is an altered state of consciousness that could be roughly defined as a very deep  focus. More than that, “flow” in sports defines a condition of heightened perception of the task at hand at the expense of any other sensorial input. The sensation, for he who experiences it, is of total connection with the water, the rock or, for our sport, the loaded bar.

The pictures bellow were taken by Helena Coutinho at the GPA World Powerlifting Championship. The athlete is World Champion and record holder Mauro Spinardi, from Argentina.

Mauro told me he has little recollection of the lift itself. It is as if he was in a trance.

I have observed him closely. A few minutes before the lift, his eyes lose focus. He stares into “nothing” and moves slowly. He is totally capable of following referee commands and even adjusting to unexpected situations. One of these happened precisely during the historical record-breaking lift: the monolift was adjusted a little higher than it should. He had to return the bar and start again.

He doesn’t remember that. He was totally immersed in flow.

Mauro is today considered one of the greatest powerlifters in the world. His ability to go into “flow”, therefore, might be as special as his performance.


Flow in Sports



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A vida é pentavalente: arranco, arremesso, agachamento, supino e levantamento terra. Life is a five valence unit: the snatch, the clean and jerk, the squat, the bench press and the deadlift.

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