By: David Robson
As Found on Bodybuilding.com
The great bodybuilding champions of our
time had relied upon many strategies to power their way through
arduous work-outs and create physiques which continue to inspire
the up and comers of today. Training and diet
are two obvious key aspects associated with the attainment of
physical perfection, but there is another, more intrinsic,
variable, which has assisted, to a greater or lesser degree, the
Schwarzenegger's, Haney's and Coleman's of this world: the
notion of mind-power.
The ability to connect psychologically with ones muscles
through various strategies is a very important, albeit often
overlooked, aspect in the quest for physical superiority. Arnold
Schwarzenegger famously envisaged his biceps growing to become
mountain peaks, and achieved amazing, some would argue
unparalleled, development in this area.
Tom Platz imagined his quads blowing up like massive
balloons. Has his leg development ever been rivaled? Although
imagining the unthinkable might evoke massive gains, using
mind-power as a whole, to assist ones bodybuilding endeavors, is
considerably more complex.
To really channel the mind toward bodybuilding success,
through attaining complete concentration and total absorption
throughout every training session, a multi-pronged attack is
required. This entails focusing the mind, maintaining a positive
mind-set, strengthening the mind/body link and conditioning the
Focus The Mind
Focusing the mind requires a tremendous effort if total
concentration is sought. The key to completing any set with
sufficient intensity, attention to correct form and
visualization, demands complete focus. A good strategy for
developing focus is to sit quietly before each set and consider
the task ahead, while blocking out all extraneous information.
Other peoples conversations, the radio, distracting thoughts
and people in ones immediate proximity all qualify as useless
and irrelevant as far as the impending set is concerned. Also,
it is useful to map out exactly what is to be achieved for a
particular set. Number of repetitions, feeling within the muscle
and correct form all qualify as relevant and worth attending to.
Many top-level bodybuilders are regarded as arrogant in that
they seem to be tied up in their own self importance and not
interested in anybody or anything when training in the gym. This
is probably not arrogance. It is more than likely to be focus.
Their physiques are an outward manifestation of this inward
Maintaining A Positive Mind-Set
Although maintaining focus is very important, as illustrated
in the preceding section, it is equally as important to maintain
a positive mind-set at all times.
In today's fast-paced world, with an increasing number of
social problems, it is not easy to maintain calm and focused for
any appreciable period of time. However, it is extremely
desirable to try to develop and maintain a positive mindset. The
top professionals, in any sport, have few outside distractions,
and this, in turn, allows them to concentrate on their training
objectives with relative efficiency.
The key during any physical event, and this includes
weight-training, is to put oneself in the moment to the highest
possible degree. To do this, one must not be pre-occupied with
what happened yesterday, or what might happen tomorrow. These
things are irrelevant to the task at hand.
By maintaining a positive mind-set, it is easier to switch
off and immerse oneself in the training experience. Focusing on
negative aspects of life will only serve to dilute the present
and, resultantly, impede training performance.
|Ways to enhance positive
thinking include, dissociating with negative people and
refraining from negative pursuits such as sedentariness,
excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking.
Positive visualization and goal-setting are also
important variables when seeking to improve ones
Before each set imagine exactly what is to be achieved during
that set. Also, doing this within the hour before each
training-session has merit.
However, it has to be said that thinking about ones work-out
24-hours-per-day is probably not conducive to developing a
positive mindset. This could, instead, lead to burn-out and
In order to attain complete focus, it is vitally important to
develop the mind/muscle link. It has been shown that the greater
the ability an athlete has in performing in their chosen sport,
the more adept they are at using a particular action, or
exercise, to specifically target a particular muscle group, or
Indeed, as far as bodybuilding goes, it is important to see
in ones mind exactly the impact a particular exercise is having
on a particular muscle. The better one is at this, the better
they will be at developing their mind/muscle link.
What is the best way to do this? Through studying all of the
different muscle groupings, and acquiring the ability to
identify individual muscles and the effect a particular training
stimulus has on these muscles, one will eventually learn to,
seemingly intuitively, know if the exercises they are doing are
having the desired effect.
Anyone can simply lift a weight for a prescribed number of
repetitions, but very few are probably adept at knowing, through
their mind/muscle link, exactly how this weight is assisting
muscular growth. Another way in which to develop the mind/muscle
link is to, as Arnold recommended, flex an body-part before
actually training it. He called this "getting in touch with
For example, flexing the chest by pushing the arms out will
replicate the action of the bench press. The pushing action will
be exactly how the bench press itself should feel. The
subsequent bench-press will activate more fibers as the lifter
will have found the right groove through the continual
pre-flexing of the muscle.
A further way to strengthen the mind/muscle link is to have
ones training partner lightly touch the area to be trained. Ones
attention will be subsequently directed onto this area and, as a
result, training energy will be more precisely focused in line
with the mechanics of the exercise.
A strengthened mind/muscle link will also help to negate
muscular inhibition. Muscular inhibition is a necessary
regulatory mechanism put in place to off-set any potential
muscular damage which might occur during a stressful event. A
heavy set of squats for example.
By re-educating your muscular system to circumvent the
inhibition mechanism, a stronger muscular contraction will be
possible, and greater growth will result. Arnold once said that
"the harder you concentrate and focus the mind into the
muscle, the more you break through the inhibitory limitations
your brain is creating and the more rapid your progress".
Condition The Subconscious
Gaining massive amounts of muscle takes more than merely
psyching oneself up for a training session, or blocking out
irrelevant cues. Granted, these things are important, but to
achieve outstanding success one must also condition their
subconscious mind. The subconscious is thought to be the area of
the mind which functions just below the level of awareness.
Anything in life, real or imagined, can stimulate the
subconscious, and cause one to act or think in a certain way.
In short: people who think negatively tend to experience
negative life events, while people who think positively tend to
get the most out of life. Bodybuilding's real champions tend to
never speak about themselves in negative terms, but, rather, in
a positive light. Furthermore, they tend to be similarly
positive in most other areas of their life.
Becoming, and remaining, an eternal optimist is, in fact,
probably the single most important step an aspiring champion can
make. One important way to condition the subconscious is to
practice positive affirmation on a constant basis.
An affirmation is a positive thought or statement that you
repeat to yourself and implant in your subconscious mind as a
source of inspiration for your present and future actions.
Affirmations can instruct your subconscious to overcome physical
and mental barriers previously thought insurmountable. They are
one of the best tools to overcome negative thinking, and enhance
Good Bodybuilding Affirmations
"I will power through today's workout and overcome all
"I will surpass all personal bests today"
"The food I am eating will assist my muscle
"My quads will grow to unprecedented dimensions"
Although these affirmations are a good start, it is always
best to choose them on the basis of specifically predicated
goals, and use trigger words which will personally motivate and
enthuse. An example of a trigger word would be
"stunning" as in "I will experience stunning
results today". Use words which stimulate.
The Keys To Effective Affirmation
- Use affirmations specific to ones problem or goal.
- Start ones day with a positive affirmation.
- Use affirmations regularly.
- Use only positive words. Always avoid negative ones.
- Act as if the affirmations are already working..
Mind training, as conveyed in this article, is equally as
important as muscle training, if superior results are the aim.
In reading the various bodybuilding champions texts it is
apparent, when it comes to motivation, that one can literally
condition their mind for greatness. A well conditioned mind
seems to be half the battle as far as building muscle is
concerned. But conditioning the mind for greatness is not a
Indeed, it takes a lot of planning and effort. Through
focusing the mind, attaining and maintaining a positive
mind-set, strengthening the mind/muscle link, and conditioning
the subconscious, unbelievable results can be realized. Begin
thinking your way to a great physique.
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