by Kelsey Alderson

The Psychology Behind CT Fletcher

CT Fletcher AKA ‘Compton’s Superman’ is best known for his persever...
The Psychology Behind CT Fletcher
CT Fletcher AKA ‘Compton’s Superman’ is best known for his perseverance inside and outside the gym. He was born on June 8th 1959 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His role models were Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee, and in 1977 joined the US army. In 1979 he earned a 2nd degree black belt in Karate, and in the early 80s competed in weightlifting, and shortly after powerlifting claiming many records and titles. Now he is known for his YouTube channel where he speaks his mantra “It’s Still Your Mother F***ing Set!”, and “I COMMAND YOU TO GROW!”. His mentality is a force of nature whether he is in the gym clanging iron or facing adversity in his life.

This article looks at the psychology of CT Fletcher and addresses the impact of his self-talk and why he has grown through trauma.

Anyone who’s seen his videos knows he’s not one to keep his mouth closed both when he is working out and when others are working out. “Don’t stop until you’re the biggest sidewalk cracking mother f***er” and “No matter what you do it’s still your mother f***ing set” are a few examples of the motivational self-talk CT preaches.

Hardy et al. (2001) outlines self-talk's multiple functions. CT uses self-talk for motivational arousal to psych-up before lifts and motivational drive to regulate effort and drive.

CT does not lift anything light meaning he has a high level of confidence in his ability to lift heavy weight for a ridiculous number of repetitions. His self-talk can be used as a source to enhance this confidence. Although less relevant to resistance training, a study by Hatzigeorgiadis et al. (2008) found self-talk significantly increased tennis players confidence in performing a forehand drive, and significantly improved their performance of the skill.

More relevant research to CT is Theodorakis et al. (2000) who showed those who used motivational self-talk (e.g. “I can do this”) were significantly better at lifting their 3-rep max (highest amount of weight where an individual can lift it 3 times) for a leg extension task. Additionally, Hatzigeorgiadis et al. (2004) showed this self-talk significantly improved power performance in water polo (i.e. players threw the ball at further distances). Finally, a systematic review by Tod et al. (2015) found motivational self-talk had significantly increased muscular strength in 70% of studies reviewed.

The research supports the view that CT Fletcher’s self-talk is an important asset to his inhuman strength within the gym. It also explains how he is able to concur unbelievable feats through its positive impact on confidence, as this greater confidence consequently enhances effort given while reducing how much perceived effort is given, and enhances task performance (Bandura, 1997).

What’s more impressive than his fitness accolades is his perseverance following extreme adversity. In 2001 he suffered life threatening hypertension, in 2004 his mother died of congestive heart failure, in 2005 he had open heart surgery where he lost a lot of hard-earned muscle and was wheelchair bound for 18 months, and most recently has had a heart transplant. What makes someone go through all of this and still preach “it’s still your mother f***ing set”?

An explanation for this is through post-traumatic growth research, where people experience psychological growth through trauma. Linley & Joseph (2004) found positively reframing situations is associated with growth, which is seen by CT stating in his video ‘Beaten Not Broken’ that “you don’t know when your last minute might be, so you have to take advantage of every second” where he explained why he continued to train despite recently receiving a heart transplant.

You may be wondering how do you go from needing open heart surgery to being in a mental state where you still fight to be the fittest you can be?
The answer is provided by Joseph et al. (2012) who provide a model of the processes that occur.

The traumatic event results in the person trying to find meaning in what’s happened, in CT’s situations it resulted in his assumptions of himself of indestructibility being broken and finding meaning following having surgery and being wheelchair bound.

He reflects on this event and uses his past experiences, such as the trauma of his mother dying. This reflective process allows for his assumptions of himself and the world to be shifted in a positive way (Stockton et al., 2011).

These new assumptions have a positive influence on emotions, shown by CT’s hope of being able to regain his fitness.

This emotional state has an influence on the coping strategies he relies on and has been found to influence the use of optimism by Prati and Pietrantoni (2009).

Finally, the coping strategies allow for further reflection whereby CT can learn about himself and his ability to cope with traumatic adversity, which is used when facing future trauma. This can be seen from his recent heart replacement.

CT Fletcher is a prime example of practice what you preach and his accomplishments inside and outside fitness are extraordinary. It is clear he has a phenomenal mindset and has a strong impact on his followers.

Disclaimer: This article was created for educational purposes to show how psychology theory and research can apply to real-life situations. The content of this article has been created through watching CT Fletcher's videos and has not been directly informed by CT himself. Therefore the assumptions of his psychology may not reflect his actual psychological attributes.