You can’t go where you want to go if you don’t truly believe you can get there. Want to lose 20 pounds? Want to bench press twice your bodyweight? Want to run a marathon? Any physical task requires your brain to achieve success. You have to set your mind to achieve an objective before you can actually make it happen. This article talks about the mental game to achieve physical success.
LEARN FROM BODYBUILDERS
Many people stereotype bodybuilders as muscle-bound morons. While that may be true for some, don’t let the exception prove the rule. Don’t let the oil, mankinis, and flexing fool you. The truth is it takes an extreme level of dedication and knowledge to present one’s self at the highest level of human aesthetics. Building muscle and shredding fat does not come easy. Bodybuilders are constantly conducting science experiments on themselves to see what works and what doesn’t. For the average gym goer they are fine with getting a little stronger and looking a little better. Bodybuilders are never happy with their physique and constantly strive to get better. All of us could learn a few things from bodybuilders.
In my opinion bodybuilding nutrition is 30 years ahead of the rest of society. Bodybuilders have been eating the right foods long before they were deemed healthy by doctors, nutritionists, and scientists. If you want to learn how to improve your physique and performance read up on how bodybuilder’s eat. This is not to say all bodybuilder’s eat the same, but they share many common diet staples.
The physical training required amongst all athletes is challenging. However, the focus of bodybuilders is to build thick, lean, and shredded muscle. Most athletes will use weight training as part of their program. Bodybuilders live and die by a code written in the iron. Most athletes have an offseason. There is no offseason when muscle gains are the goal. Bodybuilders push beyond the limits of society to acheive muscle gains. You don’t know what lactic acid is until you have taken a triple drop set to failure.
THE YIN AND THE YANG
Fitness and nutrition go together like peanut butter and jelly. You can’t just bust your ass in the gym and eat like a 5-year-old at an ice cream shop. Nutrition fuels fitness. Fitness enhances nutrition. An active body performs better when it is delivered the proper nutrients. Calories are better used when a body is active.
MENTALITY OF AN IRON WARRIOR
If you want to achieve success in a physical endeavor you must set your mind to “ALL IN“. You can’t wake up tomorrow and wonder if you are going to train. You can’t eat right some of the time. You can’t go out and have “just a few beers”. I am not saying you can’t enjoy life, but if you want to achieve a physical goal you need to dedicate yourself to that goal. If you want to run a marathon you actually have to run….a lot! If you want to lose 20 pounds you have to exercise and eat less. If you want to bench press twice your bodyweight you have to dedicate the time and effort to mastering the art of bench pressing.
Perhaps you have seen Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lifting weights on Youtube and stopping mid-set to yell “Focus”. The man has it right. Focus is one of the most powerful words in the world no matter what language you speak. You need to focus your energy on the task at hand. If you are in the gym, don’t be playing on your cell phone, watching what others are doing, thinking about your man/lady drama, or your job that you hate. You should be focusing on your set, your run, your activity. If you are resting between sets you should be mentally preparing for your next set or exercise.
HAVE A PLAN
Before you take the first step of any physical journey you need to have a plan. Whether you develop a plan or have someone else do it for you, a plan is needed. Dave goes to the gym and asks Tom what he is training today and Tom answers “chest” and Dave replies “me too”. I guarantee this happens in half of the gyms in America every day. It is because Dave did not have a plan. You need to have a training plan. Any good training plan will have certain days dedicated to certain tasks. For example, a bodybuilder training 5 days a week might train Chest on Monday (International Chest Day), Back on Tuesday, Shoulders on Wednesday, Legs on Thursday, and Arms on Friday. He/she has a plan of what muscles to attack on what days. By having this plan he/she can salivate about the destruction he/she is going to do to those muscles after work. The plan is crucial to the mental preparation needed for success. Don’t ever go to the gym lost.
For Bodybuilders, Powerlifters, Strongman, Olympic Lifters, and CrossFitters the gym is the battlefield. Barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines are the weapons of war. Weight plates are the ammunition to fight the war. In war an army must take and hold territory to be successful. In personal fitness the human must build muscle, strength, skill, and hold onto those gains by repeating the process over and over again.
Find a competitive event, sign up for it, and dedicate yourself to training for the event. This is the single best thing you can do to up your mental game. Preparing for an event forces you to crank your training and nutrition up a notch. You want to perform at your best and you don’t want to embarrass yourself in public.
DON’T LET FAILURE DESTROY CONFIDENCE
Failure in fitness is inevitable. There are going to be times where you fail at your diet, fail at your workout, fail at attempting a new personal record, etc. Learn from these failures and look at them as what they are…minor setbacks.
As a personal example, one day I attempted a new squat personal record. My warm-up sets felt fantastic. I smoked my heavy sets. On my final attempt of 545 lbs, I unracked the bar strong, I stepped back smoothly, I lowered myself down into the hole. It was happening, I was going to conquer this weight! A few inches out of the hole I got crushed and had to dump the barbell over my head. I had to touch the back of my head to make sure it was still there. I squatted every Monday and I worked hard to get to this point. I was angry. Did I quit? No! Did I feel sorry for myself? No! I used this feeling of failure to work my ass off and it brought a new level of motivation to my soul.
If you are reading this you are obviously alive. There is still time to take control of your mind and to use your body the way it was intended to be used. Set an objective, develop a plan, set your mind to “ALL IN”, and get to kicking ass!