The training mindset...
We all know we have to prepare ourselves physically and mentally before any lifting can be done in the gym. While taking the time to warm up sufficiently is crucial to prevent injuries to muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons, we also need to be in the right mood for lifting hard and heavy.
I’m talking about the ten minutes before a workout when you prepare yourself for the upcoming battle. Lifting weights is a trivial thing when compared to war, but we all know for that hour in the day it is the most important thing in the world. Stressors that usually consume our lives dissipate by the fourth or fifth set.
In order to stay motivated you have to set new goals each time you reach the previous one. When you’re totally focused on your goals there is no feeling quite like achieving them.
By this stage many lifters are already talking about how the year is going to be ‘the’ year. I’m all for that, but one thing I know for sure is that if that’s to be the case, then you have to take action, both physically and mentally!
The mind comes before the muscle...
The weights will never fail at testing both.
When squatting with more than what you weigh there is a roller coaster of emotions you go through during those last few reps. You go from inspired to exhausted to plain psycho! Squatting has never failed to make me sore and inevitably stronger.
In the gym you have to set your own barometer when it comes to failure or quitting. We all have that quit button. When you approach a failure point it is much more mental than it is physical. I recently read a brilliant piece on six-time Mr. Olympia Phil ‘The Gift’ Heath, which featured in the New York Times. Although Heath was genetically bequeathed with great bodybuilding genes in the form of round muscle bellies and near-perfect symmetry, he still gets nervous every time he strips to his posing trunks in front of crowds. This is surprising, because of the 13 men who have held the Sandow since the Mr. Olympia’s genesis back in 1965, The Gift is considered the most complete. Why then is Heath rarely satisfied with what he sees in the mirror? Most of the champ’s year is zoned in, sniper-like, at a single target – the Mr. Olympia, the Super Bowl of bodybuilding. As he confesses in a recent interview: “All year long my focus is this contest, and everything I do for seventy days is about me winning it. Every meal, every workout, every rep, every supplement, every ounce of sleep, every massage therapy. Everything.”
I think this all-or-nothing mindset is what drives him to train at odd hours in the morning at Armbrust Pro Gym in Denver, Colorado. On more than one occasion the police came shining with their flashlights through the glass doors of the gym, wondering who is inside at 3 a.m. It would be Heath training by himself, because he did not like the way he lifted earlier in the day. Call it obsessive, but I like Heath’s training mindset.
Although he works harder and devotes more time to this sport than almost any other athlete, he still gets nervous about guest posing: “It can be 10 people or thousands of people, I want them to see something special,” Heath said in the New York Times article. “I want them to say, ‘I saw the best in the world at something,’ and maybe that will inspire them to go do something in their life with the same vigor.”
If you want to be a better version of yourself you have to set goals like Heath. It could be really small ones, but enough to keep you going even if every muscle in your body is screaming for you to quit. There is no doubt in my mind that you will see a measurable difference in your performance when you change your motivation and mental focus in the gym. Like Henry Ford said: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”