Steps 1 & 2
Bodybuilding has had a reputation of being a "dumb" sport pretty much since it's birth. The media have done their job just fine in ruining the sport (at least in the past), and to outline it further it has always attracted the wrong kind of people. It's the small percentage that trains to become big and bad to hide their insecurities - and when they make progress they have to thump their chests by bullying smaller guys. But that stereotype is fortunately fading. Slowly, but steady, as more and more "ordinary" people find their way to the gym.
Good. Excellent. The couch potatoes are off their butts and in the gym. And the next thing you know they start making actual progress! That means the myths are slowly fading, such as that you just grab a barbell and start pumping - and voilà - pounds of muscle just jumping onto your body! Personal Training is becoming big business. Why? Because people understand that it's more to it than just training HARD - you have to do it RIGHT, to get results!
Let's call this realization step 2, where just getting them into the gym in the first place was step 1. I think you are beyond steps 1 and 2. Are you ready for step 3?
Since the '70s, the best pro bodybuilders have been talking about the importance of letting your mind into the action. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to visualize how his biceps grew as he trained them, focusing on the images of huge, peaked mountains.
Shawn Ray, one of the top pros of today, uses the same kind of visualization to get in shape for a competition. And why not? Willpower can move mountains! Think about it - when you hit the gym without any real enthusiasm, perhaps with problems at work and your spouse in a bad mood, can you honestly say that you get the same kind of soreness in your muscles as when everything has been "right" the day before? I don't think so, for obvious reasons - in order to get 100% out of your training, you MUST remain focused and push yourself beyond the limits all the time. Having your mind elsewhere just won't do.
All right, so we can conclude that we must be focused. Then what? Studies show that positive thinking can make people heal faster after injuries. Positive thinking brought Arnold not only 7 Sandows but also a career that I believe we all agree can be classified as "successful." And if Shaolin monks can use the power of their minds to smash slabs of concrete with their foreheads, would it be THAT much of a miracle if YOU could add an inch to your arms tapping a little of that power? C'mon, think about it!
"Visualization For Dummies"
First of all, set a goal. A long-term goal, such as: "Washboard by June 1st!" with a number of partial goals, such as having lost X pounds by the first of every month until then. So far, so good. Now, the trick is to look at yourself in the mirror. Scrutinize yourself honestly. Fully accept your current situation - with love handles and all. Close your eyes and focus on the very image that met you in the mirror seconds before, but now you see how your fat magically, slowly melts away.
You can see how your abdominal muscles starts surfacing clearly, how your sides cease to bulge and turns nice and flat and how your arms get more vascular. As you look down you see how the separations of the legs gets clearer. When you flex your muscles you can see them move under the skin just draped over them. Picture yourself walking down the beach with rippling abs, just as you want it to be by summer. Be detail-specific. Now you're in the zone, motivation-wise. Repeat this visualization daily, and every time you feel temptation and food-cravings set in. Then just follow your step-by-step schedule as usual and check off your progress.
And now for the wackiest idea you've heard of in a long time. In fact, I bet this is gonna sound so New Age and weird that most of you will scoff at me and think I belong in a cell with soft walls. But I insist on pestering you about it. Why? Because, God help me, it works. Not only in sports, but also for your entire life. The thing is really simple: You think about a specific, detailed goal. Write it down 15 times a day, every day, until it happens. For example: "I, Matt Danielsson, will become Mr.Olympia before I'm 30." 15-times daily.
Make sure it's perfectly clear WHO this refers to and that it's BECOME/GET/ACHIEVE and similar, not WANT/WISH/HOPE etc. As you write down your goals, try visualizing it - if you want to win a competition, see yourself being announced the winner and receiving the trophy for example. Now, how could writing something down on a piece of paper in the privacy of your home help anything, you may ask? Beats me - it shouldn't! But still, you will find that there are these small, almost uncanny details that just begin to fall in place in your daily life, gently pushing you towards your goal. I have no clue of WHY this works, nor can I take any credit for the idea since I read it in The Dilbert Future (!) but all I know for sure is that it has repeatedly proven to improve the odds of things happening in my immediate daily life!
Try it - it's truly baffling! After all, if you'd fail, you've lost absolutely nothing, but if you somehow, managed to get a competitive edge ... Well, it was worth the time, don't you think? And try not to think about the reasons WHY it works - after all, we all use computers but most of us just use them and are happy without having the faintest clue of how all the billions of electronic impulses running around in there actually WORK, right? It just does the job, and we're happy about it. Apply the same convenient ignorance to this, and you'll be just fine.