We all know how important our training performance is to developing our physiques. There are many different approaches to effectively build muscle and you’ve probably had at least some success with many of them. Go to any bodybuilding website and you’ll probably be able to find several training strategies that, if applied properly to your workout regimen, could become catalysts which produce growth beyond your wildest dreams. But why is it that one strategy works extremely well for one person while the same one works fails to produce for someone else? The key is how to properly apply that strategy to your training regimen.
The key to properly applying a certain training technique is dependent on your level of consistency. It may not be in how well you perform in the gym with that awesome training technique, but how well you consistently perform in the gym with it over a period of time that will determine how well it works for you. Training consistency is our ability to effectively apply the strategies that we’ve learned every single week for a period of weeks, months, and years. Training consistency is crucial in our pursuit of an outstanding physique.
Successful training comes down to how effectively you can use your mind. My goal is to teach you to use your mind to take charge of your training and unlock your full genetic potential.
Training at your highest level of performance—and doing so on a consistent basis—will depend on how well you can manage your emotional state and mental focus. I am certain there have been many times when you’ve felt totally unstoppable, in control, and powerful in the gym and produced awesome workouts. I am also sure that you’ve suffered times in the gym when, no matter how badly you wanted to hammer out great sessions, you just couldn’t seem to get your act together. Why is it that we can perform so brilliantly one day and so poorly the next? For that matter, why is it that we can feel so strong and powerful during one set of a particular workout and extremely weak and uncoordinated on the very next set? Our level of performance in the gym is always determined by the mental state of mind we are in at a particular moment in time.
People perform at a peak level of performance more consistently than others. These winners can perform so well because they have learned and have mastered controlling their mental state while training in the gym. Whether they have done so consciously or unconsciously, it doesn’t matter. I can guarantee you that those who consistently and efficiently lift impressive amounts of weight or consistently use awesome form have developed various rituals that they execute on a consistent basis in order to train at their highest level of performance. Some of these effective trainers may not be aware that they have a set of rituals or certain idiosyncrasies when they are at their very best, but I can assure you that they do. Take a careful look at those you really respect in your gym while they are working out the next time you’re there and see if you can pick up their unique behavioral patterns.
One of my favorite methods of consciously controlling my own mental state during my training sessions is derived from the mental technology of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is the study of human excellence that was developed in the 70s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. What exactly is NLP in this case? Well, is there a certain song that, when you hear it, takes you immediately back in time and into a different state of mind? Maybe an old song that was popular back in high school and reminds you of your first love? How about a certain scent that, when you smell it, it reminds you of a certain place and time? Maybe like a certain perfume that reminds you of your kindergarten teacher when you were five years old? The song and the perfume would be considered “anchors” or sensory reminders of a certain state of mind. An anchor could utilize any one of your senses: sound (as in the case of the song), smell (the perfume), sight, touch, taste, or emotional “feeling.” What I have learned to do over time is identify which anchors can instantly and subconsciously trigger me into a peak-performance state of mind.
My rituals, or what I do to get myself in a strong and powerful state, are these:
I walk around the bench, machine, or weights in a half-circular walk from the left side to the right; I peer at the weights from the side of my eyes; I say very softly to myself (even if I’m just barely moving my lips and not making any sound whatsoever), “I will redefine what absolute failure means to me on this set! I see it, hear it, feel it, and KNOW it! (emphasizing the KNOW); then slap my left pectoral with my right palm. I’ll do this three times, build the intensity and sharpness in my words and the force in which I slap my chest. Mentally, I might picture other awesome bodybuilders training harder than me or on stage with me during a competition. Sometimes, I’ll mentally see myself doing that heavy weight with perfect form—as I have done a hundred times in the past. Then, I attack the heavy weight! These rituals instantly fire me up and get me into a strong and powerful state of mind. Because I have performed these rituals over and over again throughout the years, I don’t even need to consciously think about them anymore. They are now ingrained or anchored into my mind and body—just as in a song that has a strong emotional connection to me personally. And, just like a song that has been anchored and brings up certain emotion every single time I hear it, I can’t help but get into that powerful state when I perform these rituals.
Now, you don’t have to put on the same elaborate “production” as I do it get yourself to consistently perform at the highest level. That’s just what I do. You can use a scaled down, less obvious version and still experience the benefits.
What do you suppose would happen if I were to walk to the weight from the right to the left? Or if I were to slap my right pectoral with my left hand? Or what if I were to say, “I feel it, know it, see it, HEAR it!”? Or, say it only twice instead of three times? Or if I pictured myself being congratulated by my training partners after lifting the heavy weight? Well, let me ask you this: Would a new version of that song (like a rearranged, slower acoustical version by a different artist) still remind you of your first love in high school? Would it still drum up the exact same feelings or put you in the same state of mind? No way! Certainly not at the same intensity. It wouldn’t produce the same results. You must strive to do everything exactly the same way to properly anchor yourself in that same strong and powerful state of mind.
Developing your own set of empowering patterns may be just the strategy that can help you take your physique to another level. Is consistency a problem for you? Do you oftentimes have stressful thoughts on your mind that make it difficult for you to concentrate the way you should when you are training? This mental strategy may be just the solution to solve those challenges. When something is bothering you, just use your anchored set of rituals and—wham!—you can put yourself into that conditioned, powerful state of mind. I recommend that you develop your own rituals and practice them over and over again. With enough time and effort, you too can call upon your mental power to help you produce awesome workouts every single time you step into the gym. Peak performance will no longer be left up to chance. You will control your own bodybuilding and training destiny.