Thinking back on all the work I've done with bodybuilders who went on to win major titles, one thing becomes perfectly clear regarding why they reached the top. Through training their minds, they became as mentally tough as they were physically developed; this was the factor enabling them to ultimately take top honors.
They would also be the ones who were able to get more out of themselves each workout. They were the ones who were able to push themselves to heroic dimensions so that every fiber of every muscle trained was feverishly worked to the max!
And through those I worked with winning Mr. International, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Grand Prix, Arnold Classic, and Mr. Olympia titles (Martinez, Cahling, Christian, Platz, Coe, Haney), I saw the need for a framework of mental training principles - a framework enabling any serious bodybuilder to develop the mind/muscle link the way my clients who became champions did.
So I set about developing easy to apply, yet powerful strategies so you can use your mind to get the most, and best, out of yourself, and your workouts.
I've been training for almost 30 years now. And as the country's foremost sports and peak performance hypnotherapist, today I work with high profile pro athletes in every sport. I help them go beyond their personal bests, and achieve incredible performance levels. And my dedication to helping people by providing them positive change strategies has been my hallmark.
So here now are the 12 principles to help you develop The Mind Of A Champion. And I'll tell you; this is serious stuff for serious bodybuilders.
Enjoy and prosper from applying every one. And as you do, you'll readily appreciate what's involved in coming to stand victoriously atop muscle mountain's peak!
12 Mental Training Factors Which Move You Toward Maximum Muscular Results
Pre-Workout Mental/Emotional Priming
Here, you stimulate your nervous system with the kind and quality of effort you want to generate while you train.
Before your workout, clearly 3-dimensionally visualize yourself performing one set for each of the muscles you'll be training. And experience yourself generating super-human effort -- pushing yourself, driving yourself, contracting to the max, and blasting every fiber to the bone. (Take your time here; each time you perform this process, your visualizations will become more lifelike, and positively emotionally activating.)
Pure Mental Isolation And Focus, Cultivating And Applying Laser Concentration
This type of concentration is not the traditional type where you try to block out external distractions. No.
Laser concentration is entirely different. It entails mobilizing all of your consciousness into a singular focus point that you then project into - and sustain within - a particular task involvement (i.e., each rep of every set throughout your entire workout).
This concentration form, once mobilized, is so powerful, you're not even aware of yourself. You just sense an extreme energy force lasered directly into the specific muscle you're training. And this is an essential part of producing full muscular development - bringing a muscle to where its full size and shape potential ultimately becomes actualized.
It takes determined practice and application to develop this laser concentration. And here's how you can do it: with each set you perform, purposefully bring your whole consciousness into the specific muscle you're training. This means you're whole visual focus, all your emotions, your imaginative focus, your willpower, and your exclusive action intent.
F-e-e-l this "all of you" then begin to work the muscle with each rep, sustaining this same laser concentration during the positive and negative parts of each rep.
If you sense you're drifting, just gently bring this "all of you" back into the wholly locked-in dimension (just the same as a cowboy would redirect a stray that wandered off from the herd).
Keep applying this laser concentration principle, and in a short time you'll find it will become your natural mental inclination.
Performing this principle as outlined, you'll almost feel like you're filling the specific muscle you're training with a compelling power. And as you continue applying this principle, you'll be able to direct maximum mental intensity into the muscle you train each rep of every set. (And imagine what kind of gains this will provide you!)
Cultivating And Applying The Pain Barrier Power Breakthrough
Mastering the pain barrier spells the difference between realizing your full potential, and just being "good."
Recall a decisive workout power memory -- one where you were in the zone, going beyond your max, or training with an almost animal like passion and intensity - to a degree where it was as if nothing could or would deny you.
When you've isolated this memory, imaginatively step into it, and into your body. And wholly f-e-e-l the exact feeling and sensations you did. And as you're feeling this, think of one word that, to you, represents you embodying this feeling.
Mentally exclaim it to yourself 5 consecutive times with passion, and conviction.
Then, when you're at your next pain barrier threshold during a set, forcefully mentally exclaim this word so it's as if, as you silently repeat it, it "explodes" to fill all of you with its power. Then, go on to crank out 2 more reps!
Developing Mind/Muscle Self Talk
Over the years, the champions have told me they felt as if they could control every muscle in their body - as if they had a sort of individual relationship with every single muscle group.
And so here, in the evening, lie comfortably upon your back, close your eyelids down, and begin to focus upon a specific muscle. When you feel you've mentally connected with it, then imaginatively "talk" to it.
Tell it what you're going to do to it your next workout, and what you expect of it in terms of exertion, performance and growth.
Mentally go into lagging body parts, and do the same thing; talk to these muscles like they're your employee and you're the boss.
Continue on with this process, and you'll be surprised, even amazed at how your muscles will begin to respond!
Determine And Connect With Your Peak Performance Workout Emotion
Emotions are to performance what gas is to your car; the highest grade octane enables your engine to perform at its peak.
And if you think about the best workouts you've had -- when you literally felt like a machine, and almost unconsciously blasted through set after set, coming to feel a worked sensation that was the way you'd like to feel after every workout - you'll begin to realize an important fact.
The kind of emotion fueling these workouts produces the most demonstrable results for you.
So recall the very last time you had a peak performance workout. Then imaginatively step into the picture, and into your body. Then, think what you did then, feel what you felt, say to yourself what you did, and breathe as you did.
When you're replicating all the preceding, clench your right fist hard, and think the word "Activate" 3 consecutive times. Then, very s-l-o-w-l-y unclench your fist.
Now you've formed a peak performance emotion anchor. And I want you to use it in the following way:
Before each set, clench your right fist hard, breathe as you did in your peak performance workout, and mentally, passionately exclaim your key word ("Activate") 2 consecutive times.
You'll feel your specific success fueling emotion filling you rapidly. Then, unclench your fist, and go on to perform your set.
Recite A.M. Personal Power Affirmations
Most "ordinary" people start their day as an extension of their yesterday. The truly accomplished start each day with an empowering mental "breakfast."
This "breakfast" consists of thoughts and ideas detailing what they'll do, why they can, and that they will!
I encourage you to tailor your own individualized personal power affirmations. And as an illustration, here is a framework you can adopt:
- "Today I exemplify power. I am strong in my thoughts; I think 'Yes I can--I'm supposed to triumph.'
- I remain wholly confident in my beliefs; I can do what I set out to, and take myself higher because I choose to.
- I am disciplined, determined, and dedicated in my pursuit of excellence - physical excellence when I work out in the gym, and life excellence as I go through the various tasks and responsibilities of my day.
- There are things I can do better than anyone else. And today ... I shall!"
Set Specific Outcomes For Every Set, And For Each Overall Workout
Do you honestly spend the overwhelming majority of your gym time involved in productive growth and strength increasing efforts? Or, do you "sorta, kinda" just go through the motions and feel "OK; I did my workout today"?
Purposeful effort produces purposeful results. And here, I want you to determine the following:
- What is the overall result you want to produce/experience from your workout (in terms of feeling, sensation, workload to be accomplished, and degree of performance generated)?
- What is each set to produce for you, or result in (what you'll do, how you'll do it, and the degree to which you'll do it)?
You must know where you're going if you're ever to get there. And so, have a well detailed, specific result you'll strive for always in mind. This way, you have a progress stimulating reason to exert, and a personally advancing purpose to strive toward.
No more "half-@ssed," "idle," "routine" or "mindless" effort. From now on, know your outcome, then set about achieving it.
Embracing The "Push It To The Limit" attitude
Here, you begin to internalize the same kind of overall training attitude the champs instinctively embrace. And this revolves around the sentiment "Just good enough ... isn't!"
The new attitude here is "If I've done what I've done, I've done it; now I dig in and push myself beyond!"
The workout impact of this attitude actualized is a natural tendency to - ever higher - push, strive, test, climb and triumph.
Appropriately attempted heavier poundages, appropriately attempted increased reps, appropriately attempted forced reps, appropriately attempted supersets, tri-sets, quad sets ... and giant sets!
Your heart is probably pounding just from reading this, isn't it!
As an aid to developing this attitude, here's a peak performance affirmation you can begin internalizing about one hour before you leave for your gym:
- "Today I strive for more. Today I push myself higher and harder, striving to bring more of myself into every rep of every set, and make my muscles exert more feverishly than I ever have before.
- "I never rest on my laurels -- or my past; I ignite the flames of conquest intensity - and today, push myself to the limit ... and Beyond!"
Deep Mental/Emotional Relaxation To Promote Sound, Restful Sleep
The volts of intensity you generate during your workouts must be balanced with emotional/neurological calmness so you can fully rest, and deeply
sleep each night.
As you know, your sleep period is essential for recuperation and growth. So here, you now purposefully unwind before getting into bed to sleep -- mentally and physically.
First, lying comfortably, perform 6-8 release breaths. Inhale deeply through your nostrils (letting your stomach expand and distend), and then slowly, easily exhale through your mouth.
Next, calm and relax your mind by focusing upon your breathing. And with each breath, imagine you're expelling a white mist. And mentally, silently repeat the word e-a-s-y with each exhalation, experiencing your thoughts calming down, and the muscles in your head, cheeks and jaw slackening completely.
Next, just visualize and allow the deeply soothing looseness and comfort you feel to easily flow into, and fill your entire body - all the way down to your toes.
You'll quickly come to feel a pleasant "heaviness" and a comforting inner peace enveloping you. Then, just spend a few moments enjoying the inner calm you've produced.
Now, you're ready to hop into bed and enjoy the deeply restful sleep that supports your muscular growth.
The Success Ideal Motivation Principle
If you've ever seen something you wanted, something you felt you really wanted, every time you either saw it or it entered your mind, a feeling of drive to get it also flow through you.
Whether it was a car, a suit of clothes, a certain female who caught your eye, a job you wanted - the objective of your desire so captivated your "want power", you likely ultimately came to acquire or produce it, didn't you?!
It's very similar with physical development. When you've clearly formed an impression of your overall desired physique, and you wholly believe in, and are deeply excited by it, it naturally motivates you to expend the energy necessary to ultimately achieve it.
So, as you get into bed to sleep, begin to mentally visualize and experience the imaginative answer to the following question. "If I could have the kind of physique I truly wanted, what would this look like, feel like ... and be?"
Then, to the best of your ability, wholly sensory envision what this looks like from the front, and the rear. And be sure to experience every cut, groove, peak, and striation connected to this ideal you.
After 6 minutes or so of this success ideal visualization, then just let this impression fade, and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.
Continue doing this every night, and you'll find your motivation will stay invincible, and your physical training drive will never waver.
Embracing The Resolve Toward Completion
Are you an "OK; I did enough" person? Or, are you an "I will do all I set out to" personality?
Let me tell you, those who truly reach their muscular peak are the latter type. They fully complete what they set out to, and will not tolerate, or settle for anything less.
And this applies to adding one full inch to their arms, or 50 pounds to their max bench press, or carving a tight, cut, muscular etched waistline.
Goals are to be fully achieved. Workout plans and strategies are to be fully completed and actualized. Self structured and determined standards of performance are to be fully adhered to and honored ... always.
So if you say you'll do 10 reps, do all 10. If you say you'll do 12 sets, do all 12. Don't compromise yourself ... ever. The results you'll achieve through applying this principle will more than justify your effort.
Independent Belief - Keep Your Own Counsel
This last principle is an important part in you going as high as you can.
Here, you - you - determine how big, strong, developed, accomplished, powerful, advanced, and physically evolved you can become.
No one knows you like you do. If you choose to consider and believe in limitations, rest assured you'll experience, at best, partial life and muscular achievement.
But when you choose to say what's possible for you, and really mean it, that's when all your power will be generated toward making what you believe ... fact.
Hold your beliefs. Tightly embrace your vision of self and possibility. And train fueled by these ideals ... exclusively!
Now you have the 12 Mental Training Principles you can apply to significantly bolster your training efforts and results. And I encourage you to use them as outlined, so you keep developing yourself.
It's up to you now. No one can - or will - do it for you, but you. And through the 12 Mental Training Principles detailed, now you can bring your full power into play -- each rep of every set.
Go ahead; start applying these principles in your workouts, and your life. Then, you'll come to understand how to move yourself from ordinary ... to Extraordinary!