Pumping Mental Iron!

There are some people who seem to be able to focus on a goal and not waver for even a moment. Steve explains why doing things in moderation is better than animal behavior in the gym.
There are thousands of theories, issues and ideas thrown around in the bodybuilding fraternity. There are programs to suit every need, and contingencies for every problem. Our individuality demands that no two programs are alike, and no set list of instructions will provide the same result. Motivation and attitude are a big part of all sports, just ask anyone in the relatively new profession, sports psychology. There are countless programs for the body, but what about that other muscle we need to exercise just as regularly? Has anyone ever really say down and pushed their minds to the limit? How can you expect your body to go to new heights, if your mind takes a back seat in the gym? I'm not talking about ineffective or uneducated training, or even lack of motivation. I'm talking about balance.

There are some people who seem to be able to focus on a goal and not waver for even a moment. There are some who set down the rules and dare themselves to step over the line. This can be the making of a champion. Arnold missed his own father's funeral in preparation for Mr. Olympia. Cold heartedness or iron determination? A bit of both I think. Arnold was a success machine. Winning was his life and he was good at it. Nothing was too big a sacrifice. But what about the rest of us mere mortals? What about those of us who wander from the path? How do can I keep fresh and ready for the pain that I love to put myself through in the gym?

Everything in Moderation

I know this is bordering on bodybuilding blasphemy but for those of us who aren't clinically insane this is something that has to happen. Moderation does not mean dropping back on the training sessions, or the intensity. Moderation in weight training means not making the gym the focus of the day. If your day revolves around your trip to the gym, then you are lining yourself up for an overdose. Some people prefer to hit the gym in the afternoon, and some prefer to hit while they are fresh in the morning. My advice is to try and become a morning person. Hit the gym early and be pumped for the rest of the day. If you prefer the afternoon workout, leave it as late as possible, so you can back it up onto dinner after a couple of hours.

Secondly, keep your training sessions short and sharp. 45 minutes is a good length, and is attainable if you keep focused and keep the recovery time to an absolute minimum. Once you start going over the hour mark, you start to lose focus and your workout will lose its effectiveness. These points seem to be really straightforward and common sense, and they are. In fact, they make so much sense that most people are oblivious to their necessity. So remember:

  • Do not revolve your life around the gym
  • Try be a morning person
  • Keep it under an hour
Have a Life

This can end up being a big problem for amateur bodybuilders and often results in giving the lifestyle the flick. And don't kid yourself, bodybuilding is a lifestyle. If you want to get serious about what you are doing, there are a whole range of factors you have to consider, from nutrition to sleeping patterns. The problems arise when you start slapping the 'burden' label around and you end up complaining about the lifestyle. Here is a point that is really important, and if there is one thing you take from this article I want it to be this:

Bodybuilding is Just Another Way of Living

It's not better, its not worse, it's just different. You can look at each aspect and label them 'benefits' or 'downfalls' but essentially it is just another way of living. Being a bodybuilder does not restrict you from fun. If you are living a serious bodybuilding lifestyle and you can't have fun then you aren't trying. Work your program so you can get away once in a while, and always keep friends close by. Don't take yourself too seriously and work each aspect of who you are into your lifestyle.

Do you think bodybuilding is restrictive on your personal life? Well you are wrong. Arnold, Coleman and all the other big names were not hermits by any stretch of the word. I'm throwing the word balance around here because without balance you are asking for trouble. Balance. Organise yourself. Lifting and living do not have to oppose each other. The points to remember:

  • Bodybuilding is just another way of living
  • Have fun
  • Learn how to balance
Use Your R & R Time Wisely

A good bodybuilder always gives himself space. When you feel it is time to change programs, it is a good time to take a week or more off to give your body some breathing space. Go someplace relaxing. This is not the time where you get maggot every night and crawl around hung over in the morning. This is where you expand yourself and do something different. Just don't exert yourself. Don't get unfit, but just do not break any world records. Here are some suggestions that are guaranteed to refresh the most worn out:

  • Read books. Why do people not read anymore?
  • Go to the beach. Nothing like surf and sand to kick out the jams.
  • Spend some time with the opposite sex. This can be very relaxing.
  • Do something creative. Take a couple of days to write the best damn article and send it to BB.com.
  • Lie in the sun, hit the sauna, spa it up.
  • Keep away from controversy. Don't get fed up.
If you want to maximise your workout then work your mind as well. Do not fall into the traps that are so easy to ruin all the hard work that you put into shaping your body.
  • Keep in moderation
  • Have a life
  • Use your R & R time wisely.
If you want to keep pumping hard, then keep your life in balance, and understand that your mind is out to get you. Train hard, train smart.

Now get back to work.