When you break it all down, you can approach both bodybuilding and life in similar ways. We’re all given a starting point that is out of our control, but we can evolve into greater versions of ourselves through our day to day actions. Life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. The same is true with bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is a process. When I know there is something I want, I go after it. I don't wait for it to come to me. I lock eyes on it and I start sprinting toward my goals, even if it takes me longer than I’d anticipated to achieve them.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to set realistic goals and expectations, but also set yourself deadlines to achieve these challenging goals. You shouldn’t expect to be a top level pro bodybuilder the first year of competing. That’s like saying you expect to be drafted into the NBA after trying out for your high school basketball team and never playing in a game. Get your feet wet by competing in the NPC and then you can better understand in which direction you need to go and what improvements you need to make.
The last push, or the follow through, is the most important step in any process. Whether it’s in bodybuilding, closing a sales deal, catching a fish, or sinking a putt, it only matters when the task is complete. No fish in the boat? Well, I don’t care how close it was, you didn’t catch it. Had someone interested in your business but couldn’t close the deal? Looks like you’re not getting paid. You can keep it together for the first 16 weeks of a bodybuilding prep, but you can’t mentally handle the last four? I guess you aren’t earning your pro card. I always say you have to be a pro before you become a pro. Either you are a champion or you have a second-place mentality.
The last push in every set of every exercise is when it counts. As you’re struggling under the bar to gain control of the last few reps of your set, don't quit. What will separate the champion from the second-place guy are the last few reps that someone else isn’t willing to do but you are. The last push in prep, the last 4 weeks into a show—this is where the men and the boys get separated. The person who gives the most effort in the last 4 weeks, after 16 weeks of dieting, is the person who can walk away proud knowing they gave everything they had. Win, lose, or draw at the show, the one who gave the most effort has my respect. If you start a sprint and it ends up a marathon, you better have the balls to keep the same pace at the end as you did when you started. That is the time that really counts.
Hand two motivated individuals the same hammer and neither will create the same thing. But how do you find that motivation to build? Whether we understand it or not, are aware of it or not, discontent often lies at the heart of change. For me, feelings of inadequacy coupled with an irrepressible need for self-improvement got me motivated pretty early in life. A bench and barbell set that could serve as a heavy-duty clothing rack and dust collection unit for one guy, allowed me to transform myself both physically and mentally. This is for the one who helped me get started. Thanks, Dad.
Not too many people can say they’ve placed second twice at Mr. Olympia. Derek Lunsford can. But in true champion form, these runner up spots are not enough for him. He’s after the gold. To come up short two years in a row is a hard pill to swallow, but those that are destined for greatness are the best at looking introspectively and making adjustments, both physically and mentally. Derek catches us up on the changes he’s made going into the 2020 Olympia with plans to nail this one down.