Before you begin with this article, let me say that this is not one of those motivational articles that have a list of five or ten items that you can do to make that workout better and how to track whether this workout was better than the last one.
Don't get me wrong, there are many wonderful articles like that on Bodybuilding.com that are and I recommend them highly, especially for beginners and for those of you that have been training less than a year. However, there are plenty of those and I am writing this from a different perspective.
I am writing this for those that are in the gym or in the basement. You are exhausted, hot, sweaty, and about ready to call it a day. You start to think to yourself, "I can stop now. I worked hard today and I deserve to go home early today. What is it going to hurt?"
Look Into A Mirror
After that thought goes through your head, I want you to find a mirror. You are in a gym or at home, there is a mirror somewhere. Go find it and stare into it for a minute. I don't want you looking for gray hair, botches on your make up, or if there is anything in your teeth.
I want you to look into your eyes. I want you to look deep into those eyes. Why are you working out to begin with? Why are you here? Do you want to break your personal record on bench press? Do you want to lose some extra weight? Maybe you want to step onstage. Are you a competitive athlete?
Whatever your reason may be, think about that reason or those reasons while you look into the mirror. How bad do you want to achieve those goals? I am guessing pretty d@mn bad. If that is the case, then why are you quitting?
Don't act like you don't get what I am saying. You want to go home early, you want to quit. Yeah it is just one day, but then you might want to quit again next week. Then you might want to take the next day off. You have a lot to do, right?
Next thing you know, you forgot about your goals and you are right back to where you started. Now as you look into those eyes staring back at you, ask yourself if you are absolutely sure you want to call it a day. Do you really want to just get in the car or go back upstairs and leave your unfinished workout where you started?
"People who don't succeed are the ones who give up. I am not giving up." -Sherrill Freeborough
Go Somewhere To Be Alone
Now I am not sure what it is you are doing today, but after you look into the mirror, I want you to go somewhere where you can be alone. Walk around the track, go to the locker room, the bathroom, or anywhere else that you can be alone with your thoughts. Are you alone? Good.
Now if there was money involved with this, would you quit? If you were a professional athlete and hitting the gym was in your job description, would you skip out on what was left in your workout?
Let's say you are a personal trainer and your client wants to just pack the gym and head to the house. What would you say to that person? I know there are a lot of hypothetical questions here, but these are questions I want you to answer before you decide to stop for the day.
"Do a little more each day, than you possibly think you can." -Lowell Thomas
How Bad Do You Want This?
Did you ever look back on your grades in school? Maybe you were a C student. You might have skipped out on a little homework? You didn't study for certain parts of a test because you knew you would be all right at the end of the year. You were going to pass.
If you would have done all the stuff you needed to do, you could have been a B or even an A student. This is no different.
Instead of mental health and experience though, we are talking about your physical health and physique. You skip out on this part of your workout and you might hit a couple of your goals. But do you really want just a couple of your goals to be achieved? If you do, then why did you make a list of five or ten? You must want those too.
I think I made my point. You want this, don't you? You want to finish strong so you can walk out of there with your head held high.
"In the end, it's extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don't win, how can you lose?" -Jesse Owens
Get Your Pump Back
You don't quit on anything in life and you will be d@mned if you quit on this. But you are tired, exhausted, and now that you spent the last few minutes debating whether you should finish or not, you are losing your pump and need to get back to moving again. It is ok. You can get it back. Don't worry. Here is what you do.
Stretch out for a minute or two, get those muscles loose again. Whatever your next exercise is going to be, do a warm-up set. Now look into that mirror again. You aren't that bad looking, just look in the mirror. You look in the eyes again. You see something different this time, don't you?
That is right. What do you see this time? You see a bodybuilder, you see a champion, and you see an athlete in that mirror. You see someone that would rather be dragged out of that gym because he finished and had trouble walking than walk out because of quitting.
You see passion, you see intensity, and you see someone who has goals to set and not much time to set them. You want to finish that workout. You NEED to finish that workout, don't you? Hell yeah, you do.
Now go do that next set. That weight feels light, don't it? That set was basically another warm-up. You are motivated now. You are jacked. Nothing or no one can stop you now.
Whatever your next weight was going to be, go a little heavier. Take a few deep breaths, think about your motivation. Think about that contest.
Think about your family, your friends, your co-workers, and the others in there with you. Would you let them quit? No, you wouldn't. You want them to go the extra mile because you know they can. Well right now they want that very same thing for you. Finish this for them.
Finish this for yourself. Finish stronger than you planned on finishing. You were about to walk out that door and call it a day, but now live in the middle of the gym you can finish this thing better than you planned. Do it. Time is wasting. Do that last set.
Congratulations. Well done. I am proud of you. Before you go, I want you to do me one last favor. I want you to find that mirror and look into it just one last time. This time, tell me what you see. You see accomplishment, pride, dominance, and you see a champion. You are not just a winner, you are a champion.
There are hundreds or even thousands of people that would have been satisfied with what they did and left. You didn't do that. You got motivated at a difficult point in your workout, you sucked it up, you ignored the pain and mental fatigue, and you finished stronger than you originally planned to.
Now you can go grab your stuff and you can head out. Write down in your log what you did today as a reminder for when this happens again in the future. It will happen again. It happens to all of us. It isn't anything to be ashamed of.
You just have to deal with it and today you dealt with it as well as anyone could have. Remember that feeling you had the last time you looked in the mirror and dealing with it will be even easier next time.
"If you expect the best, you will be the best. Learn to use one of the most powerful laws in this world; change your mental habits to belief instead of disbelief. Learn to expect, not to doubt. In so doing, you bring everything into the realm of possibility." -Norman Vincent Peale