One of the greatest feelings you can experience as a bodybuilder is being “in the zone” or “on a roll.” It’s those times when your training habits are going so well that they almost seem effortless. I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of encountering this special feeling, haven’t you? When we are training with such focus, intensity, and consistency, those periods of time easily make up for any of the pain, sacrifice, or deprivation that we must endure in order to accomplish our bodybuilding goals.
The fulfillment that you’ve earned by sticking with your passion for bodybuilding has benefits which have far more of an impact on you than just accumulating muscle mass. More often than not, that sense of accomplishment carries into other areas of your life as well. Your efforts seem to make you a happier and a more complete person. Being consistent with your plan gives you a sense of pride and mental toughness. The discipline that you regularly demonstrate almost becomes a part of your identity.
There’s nothing that can compare to the feeling of being in that zone, is there? If you are currently in that state of mind, congratulations! Be certain to appreciate these special times and, most importantly, enjoy them while they last! But being on a roll is the easiest part of bodybuilding.
No matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished in the past, you will invariably experience times when you are not so motivated to train. Your drive will undoubtedly wane from time to time. Among the questions that I am continually asked is how a person can keep himself motivated to train. And furthermore, when your motivation seems to dissipate, what can you do to pull yourself out of that downward spiral? Believe me, I know from personal experience that these times can be especially painful and frustrating. Your dedication and commitment for training has always been something that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed. But now, the thrill that you’ve been accustomed to experiencing seems to be all but gone. And even worse, the pain and anxiety of wondering if that fire inside you will ever be back can be excruciating! Will this pain, frustration, and lack of drive just go away on its own? Or will your motivation to train magically come back to you someday? If so, how soon? What if it doesn’t? Hey, you’ve seen people in your gym come and go over the years. Some of them lasted three days, some lasted three months, and some even lasted for three years. But, no matter how long they stuck it out, they are no longer training consistently today.
Will you become just another bodybuilding statistic? Will you be one of the many who couldn’t handle the ups-and-downs and twists and turns that come with this disciplined lifestyle? One thing is certain: You must take action! You can’t just assume you’ll miraculously get back to your normal self. You can’t just sit around and hope your desire returns. Oftentimes, taking the first step on your journey to get back on track is the toughest. You must develop the courage to take that first step as soon as possible so that you don’t suffer any long-term damage to your love for training.
What price could you pay for not taking immediate action? For starters, you’ll lose momentum. The people with the physiques that you admire most are usually the same people who maintain their emotional state of mind consistently throughout the years. They’ve had the ability to turn things around before they become major problems. Although they experience the same challenges that everyone else does, those problems never become pervasive and cause major damage to their bodybuilding experience. By not taking action, you risk the chance of feeling comfortable with the lowered level of intensity and, in doing so, stalling or even halting your progress. Weeks, months, or even years may come and go and you may find yourself wondering why you are not making progress. What you may not realize is that this complacency can gradually grow inside you like cancer and put a limit on what you can achieve. You can eventually lose some of the passion and excitement that you’ve felt in the past from your training efforts. Maybe you’ll lose it all if you don’t get the situation under control right away. You could possibly join the legions of people whom you’ve seen quit training altogether due to frustration.
There are also tremendous benefits that you stand to gain by taking action and rekindling your drive to train at the level that you are accustomed to. You gain power when you can successfully turn a bad situation into a good one. Life is full of challenges. When you’ve done what it takes to overcome a setback, you gain the confidence needed to handle other downtimes in the future. You can also gain a new appreciation for your training. Sometimes, all it takes is feeling really bad for you to appreciate those times in your past when you felt really good. By taking immediate control of your situation, you can gain the perspective that will allow you to enjoy bodybuilding at a much greater level than ever before. With this newfound strength and energy, working through the downtimes can serve as a catalyst that launches your training performance into the stratosphere!
Here Are Some Strategies That Can Help You Successfully Work Through The Downtimes That You May Experience:
1. Keep in mind that the feelings you’re going through are normal. Everyone’s level of motivation will wane on occasion. Don’t beat yourself up just because you’re going through a lull. Even the most respected bodybuilding champions in the world experience downtimes. The characteristic that makes them champions is what they actually do during those difficult periods of time. These individuals have the unique ability to take action, and fight through their difficulties. Look at these downtimes as an opportunity to awaken the champion inside you.
2. Put yourself into the “third person” and then view your situation. In other words, step out of yourself for a moment and examine your circumstances as a good friend would. It’s my belief that, when we feel that our challenges in life are unique to us, we have a much more difficult time dealing with them. When you allow yourself to become a little less emotionally attached to your predicament, you gain a better perspective. With the mindset of an objective friend who sincerely wants to help, what advice would you give? You can see that, with a more levelheaded approach, your problems will seem much less intimidating. They will become easier to manage.
3. Determine exactly what you think needs to happen and/or what feelings you need to experience in order to feel as though you’re in your groove again. Break your thoughts down—and be specific! Do you want to start by just getting into the gym as scheduled? Do you want to feel as though you’re giving 100 percent of your effort again? Would you be happy if that nagging injury was at least 80 percent back to normal? Is it that you need to conquer your challenge of managing to eat all six meals during the day as you did when you were at your best? Break the problem down! You’ll give yourself the best chance to get back in the zone if you have a clear understanding in your brain of what the zone is supposed to feel like. One of the biggest tragedies in bodybuilding comes when you’re winning the game but feel like you’re losing. Knowing exactly when you are winning—according to your own standards—is the best way to experience victory again.
4. Focus on a time in the future when you’ll be running on all cylinders again. Think of how great that will feel. Whatever you do, try not to dwell on the problems that you are experiencing today. I know it’s difficult when times get tough, but if you can allow yourself to feel the thrill of victory in the future, your moment-to-moment, day-to-day, and month-to-month thoughts and actions will actually be pulled in that direction. How you perceive what is happening in your life will determine your state of mind, what you actually do, and what you do not do. Remember, if you think tomorrow will be a brighter day or that it will be just another day filled with pain and frustration—you’re right in either case!
5. Put a time goal on when you expect to be going full tilt again. It’s true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so you should understand that it may take a little time to get back where you want to be. If you do not put some pressure on yourself to get back to your normal level of training efficiency sooner rather than later, you’ll invite this slump to linger a lot longer than necessary. You may find it easier to set time goals like being back up to 80 percent by the end of the month, 90 percent by the end of next month, and 100 percent in three months.
6. Don’t start making excuses for yourself and, whatever you do, do not lower your standards during these difficult times! Lowering your expectations may alleviate some of your pain and frustration in the short term but, in the long run, such rationalizations will compromise your dreams! If you successfully resist the temptation to expect less from yourself, you may come back stronger and more determined to reach your bodybuilding goals than ever before.
7. Gain the confidence you need to get through these trying times by feeding off your previous success. Chances are that you’ve experienced some degree of a slump in the past. Think back to that time and draw from your experience. What did you do back then? What mindset did you adopt back then that helped you? If you’ve done it before, you can do it again. You may also want to ask someone you know and respect who has exhibited tremendous longevity, consistency, and perseverance how they’ve been able to do so. Use those examples of excellence to model their winning habits.
8. Keep plugging away! Persistence is the most common trait among those who appear to be successful. In reality, they are oftentimes just the people who have kept trying long after average people have given up. Persistence is the ability to believe, no matter how many times you’ve tried and failed in the past, the very next strategy that you implement could be the one that takes you to the next level. Who knows? Things that seem dreadful today could turn around with a simple change in your perspective or with a big break. You’ll never know, however, if you don’t keep trying.
9. Keep your guard up! When things do seem to start turning around, be certain not to let yourself get complacent. Just when you think you have a depressed state of mind licked, it has an uncanny ability to knock you back on your tail when you least expect it. Although it may seem that you’ve made it through the hard times, continue to do the things that made your situation better. The last thing you want is to have to pull yourself out of another downtime soon after turning your current situation around. You may find it much more difficult the next time around.
Isn’t it funny how life constantly offers us setbacks in one area of our lives or another? Be patient and work through your times of less-than-normal motivation. Time heals all wounds—both physical and mental. Everything happens for a reason—if you choose to look at it that way. Use your downtimes to empower you and make you mentally stronger in the future. Pain can oftentimes be a great motivator and your best friend. Think about it for a moment. You probably would not step up and make the necessary changes to develop an even better physique if you didn’t experience some rough times along the way. Turn your downtimes into opportunities that take your bodybuilding efforts to a higher level of achievement.