We often get into a routine of going to the gym as if we’re just checking it off of our to-do list. For the serious lifters, every day is a great day to get better. There is no checking off going to the gym. We look forward to it. Those who aren’t so serious may find a reason to take it easy or skip the gym altogether. It’s during these moments that your mental toughness will be challenged.
When you change your mind, you will change your body. This is easier said than done. We all go through struggles. We all have things that make us want to buckle, give in, quit. Those who rise to the occasion and press toward their goals despite any circumstances, good or bad, are the ones who achieve them. You will start to develop what I like to call “the champion mindset” when you begin to see challenges as opportunities to grow stronger. We all have a champion inside of us. Some choose not to believe it, or would rather choose the easy road and be comfortable. I’d rather face my challenges head on and try to overcome them with everything I’ve got than to fall short of my potential just to avoid the struggle.
As you become mentally stronger, you can see it clearly in the gym. Those who push past their limits are usually the ones who are admired in the weight room. The guys with huge shredded muscles and pushing loads of weight didn’t get there by taking it easy on days they felt tired. Instead, they pushed harder. The day you don’t want to go to the gym and train hard is your opportunity to be a champion. Do what it takes and go make it happen.
Those who mildly understand this can get excited for a couple months and push through the struggles, but then fall off the wagon. These are the guys who may have “potential,” yet lack real discipline to keep going. It’s great to push past barriers for a couple months, but you really never accomplish a whole lot unless you are able to shape your mindset. You have to break yourself mentally before you can reach the next level. You have to instill the mindset that this is who you are and not just what you do. If you believe what you are doing is who you are and you’re able to push past barriers you never thought possible, then it becomes your lifestyle. You have rewired your mind to believe this is just who you are. You begin to expect challenges to come into your life, rather than anxiously await them. Following a training or diet program for a couple months is a great way to get started, but if you want long lasting change, strengthen your mind.
As you move closer toward your ultimate goals, however, stay open minded to new ideas and ways of thinking. This goes hand in hand with a strong mind. Don’t allow pride to keep you stuck in one way of thinking or doing things. Digest training, dieting, and nutrition information outside of your normal practice. Think about the reasons why these new ideas may make sense and try them out for yourself. They may serve a great purpose in developing your physique. For example, if you’re used to training explosive, fast repetitions with maximum weight with long rest periods, you might try more time under tension and controlling each repetition with lighter weight load. Take my word, the change in tempo will drastically change your perspective that “heavy weight is the only way to build muscle.” The more control you have over the weight as you lift it, the harder your muscles can contract and the stronger they will become. Now you’re working hard and you’re working smart. The same is true with your mind. The more control you have over your mind, the stronger you become as a person.
Simple changes are all it takes. Take it slow. Don’t expect to be great right away. Make sure you understand this is a process, just like bodybuilding. Take each day for what it’s worth and give your best effort.
If you catch yourself being challenged, rise to the occasion and own the situation. Challenges are a must if you want to be great. Zone in on why you want to be great—your purpose will give you all that you need to push through the challenges. When your purpose is greater than your challenges, nothing will stop you.