Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you want to get big, don't just say, "Whatever it takes, I'll be huge by summer!" Thinking like this may leave you doomed to failure. Picture the task as a pie (OK … OK … a high protein meat pie). Next, cut it up into little pieces and tackle one chunk at a time. For example, over the next 4 weeks, concentrate on gaining 2 pounds, then 5, then 10. Increase your meal frequency from 4-to-5 meals per day, then 6.
Bump up your carbohydrate intake slowly (lest you get fat) from 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, to 2 and then to 3 … you get my point. This is where a training journal comes in handy. It maps out your quest for a better physique by recording changes in your training, diet, sets, reps etc.
Can I Get That In Writing?
Find a small scrapbook to jot down notes on. You can record meals, sets, reps, bodyweight, fat and even measurements. Nothing feels better than going through your past entries and seeing how far you've come. Everybody is different, and customizing a plan that works for you involves trial and error.
Training logs make the process much easier. Did you hit the pectorals better on an incline bench? Did using a pro-hormone help in recovery? These things make the difference between a good and great physique. Review your notes once a week and make the appropriate changes to your routine. Just don't be overly meticulous or it'll become tedious and boring.
Small Goals… Big Gains
Instead one big goal i.e. "Get big or die," write down several smaller goals on a sheet of paper and call it your "To Do List." For example:
By end of month:
1) 5lbs gain in lean body mass
2) Increase bench press 1 rep max from 225 - 245
3) Add 1 inch to Chest and Arm measurements
4) Consume 6 meals per day
5) 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Note: Plan accordingly for subsequent months.
Small goals are easier to reach than giant, seemingly unattainable ones. They act as milestones you must surpass in order to succeed in your mission. It's like using stepping-stones to cross a river - Slowly but surely you'll get to the other side. Finally, small accomplishments boost your self-confidence and belief in your ability to succeed. Remember folks; Chris Cormier's wasn't built in a day!
Visualize and Be Positive
No, this isn't some eastern meditation practice. It's simply a matter of incorporating the power of the mind into the bodybuilding equation. Visualization involves forming mental images and using them to improve your focus and concentration. In addition, it can be applied to almost every facet of bodybuilding - contest, diet, training, recovery etc. For example, if you're preparing for a contest, visualizing yourself on stage in peak condition can keep you motivated to stick with your diet, even through the tough times.
If you tend to wander aimlessly from exercise to exercise at the gym, try the following method. The next time you train, take 5 minutes before to sit in a quiet place and actually think through your routine. Picture yourself performing every exercise and set. Imagine busting every rep out with balls-to-the-wall intensity. The cold, hard iron invigorates your senses as you punish your muscles with heavy weights and strict form. Now, you're focused. Get in, train hard, get out, and watch those muscles grow.
Don't shortchange yourself by thinking you're not going to succeed. If you enter a contest, why not try to win it? I'm not advocating unrealistic thinking. After all, not everyone has the genetics to be the next Ronnie Coleman. But if you enter into a state of negativity - "I'm never going to get big" / "I'm never going to be strong" then chances are, you never will. In whatever your pursuit, believe in yourself and your abilities.
Establish a Time Frame
Discipline yourself to accomplish certain goals within a time frame. By doing this, you keep yourself accountable and are less likely to slack off. But make sure you're not selling yourself short on time. You're probably not going to pack on 30 pounds on muscle in 4 weeks! One of the biggest mistakes I see bodybuilders make is not giving themselves enough time to reach their goals. They end up over trained, frustrated, and burned out - not a good thing to happen. If you want to lose fat, for example, set a feasible target to lose 4 pounds of fat this month. That equates to one pound of fat a week, which is doable. So just do it!
Get A Training Partner
Working out together is a great way to develop a friendship or enrich an existing one. It's always fun to see couples working out together. Better yet, gym buddies gathered around a squat rack giving shouts of "Fight it!" and "Stay tight!" to some dude who's just loaded 400 pounds on his back. Bodybuilding with friends is a great way to stay motivated, just be sure to keep the chitchat to a minimum unless you enjoy unproductive 3-hour workouts.
Good training partners are precious commodities. They can provide feedback on your form, posing routine, overall development etc. If you're less experienced then they are, going to them for advice will take a lot of guesswork out of your program. Try setting similar goals and see who reaches them first. A little competition never hurts, right? A training partner can drive you to work harder so that his/her physique doesn't outshine yours. But remember, push yourself to the limits, not over, or you'll get hurt.
Rewards provide a sense of accomplishment, which in turn encourage you to keep up the good work. Chances are your gym buddies aren't going give you a dime every time you bench 275. Solution? Once you attain certain goals, go ahead and reward yourself … you deserve it! They can come in the form of new supplements, bodybuilding magazines, gym apparel, a rare cheat meal, music CDs etc. They don't have to be expensive. In this website alone there are many that cost under $15. Whatever you deem a suitable prize, it shall be. Rewards can turn your intensity up a notch in eager anticipation of the satisfaction to come. In addition, they also help take your mind off a tough week of dieting or after a brutal training session.
If you don't have a blueprint for success, you're not going anywhere. All the "Flex Wheeler" caps and protein powder in the world won't make you big and cut. Instead, a great physique begins in the mind, and can only be achieved through vigilant planning. Dorian Yates started out skinny, but went on to add slabs of rock-hard muscle. He won six Mr. Olympia titles and forged a legacy for himself. True bodybuilders don't start out huge. They don't wake up one morning as genetic freaks. They become bodybuilders, and remain true to the iron game for life. They know what they want, and pursue it with a passion.