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The Power Of The Mind
by Anthony Millar of dotfitness.co.uk

How many times have you thought about possessing powerful arms or a powerful chest? Or building a powerful pair of shoulders, or even a powerful pair of legs. But have you given equal consideration to the development of the mind? It probably comes as no surprise that most have not. On the surface this may seem quite an abstract issue, however possessing the attributes of a powerful mind-set are extremely influential in achieving our goals and aspirations and in my opinion separate one bodybuilder/athlete from another. You only have to listen to Arnold Shwarzenegger comment upon the need for a single-minded approach during contest preparation in the highly rated Pumping Iron; to realise just how important a factor this really is. It could even be argued that the mind is the most effective ‘weapon’ in your armoury. So what are these attributes that help make up a powerful mind? In truth there are many, so for the purpose of this article I have decided to concentrate and evaluate the qualities that I feel are most important. These are motivation and determination. We all can relate to these issues, which to a certain extent overlap and compliment one another. We can also benefit greatly in a practical sense for developing these attributes further.

Firstly I would like to talk a little on motivation. The higher your motivation, the better your results in the gym, the easier it becomes to stick to a diet. Low motivation makes it almost unbearable to go through the necessary pain barriers in the gym and practically impossible to stick to a low calorie diet. Of course there is much more to it than that as motivation represents a large issue in sports psychology. But I am not a sports psychologist, just a bodybuilder concerned about making continual gains. This is all we, as athletes need to know as well as ways to gaining and maintaining high levels. Goal setting is a great way to increase motivation; you need to have both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals can range from anything from an increased weight in a particular lift(s) to a realistic reduction/gain of weight over a 2-4 week period. I say realistic as to not tempt frustration, which inevitably accompanies failure to attain these goals, which has the complete opposite effect. Long-term goals are also important as they provide significant targets to be made over a longer period of time. Again this is very flexible, a loss of 2 stone of fat over a 12-week period, or a gain of 8lb of lean muscle mass over a 12-month period can both be described as realistic long-term goals. These goals add purpose to your eating and training habits. They provide an all-important destination to your journey. Think about it, would you get on a plane if you didn’t know your destination?

Some people take this a little further by recording every single workout in a sort of diary. This approach was taken by a Mr Dorian Yates, who obviously felt the need to charter his success on a daily basis; it certainly worked for him! Personally I prefer to go by the ’feel’ of the weights. I also have a preference to rotate sessions favouring heavy weights with sessions prioritising training intensity. But everyone is different and this may be of great help to you. Motivation can also be significantly increased by an increased knowledge of your chosen sport as an entirety, Whether it be from magazines, peers or some other establishment. This allows you to experiment with new ideas and therefore helps create a fresh approach in general. Another motivation booster is to go and see your ideals compete or attend some kind of seminar that may be held in your area. This often reminds you why you started out in the first place and is in a league of its own for renewing enthusiasm.

It could also be argued the importance of determination in creating the mind-set of a winner. Having the ability to get what you want, at almost any cost is a useful trait to possess. Determination in the gym should never be underestimated. If you lack the focus and concentration required to be determined then you will not make it to being a champion. Simple as that, if you don’t have the determination to go through every working set to failure, then you are kissing goodbye to a huge chunk of muscle that otherwise would be yours for the taking. Of course this is not easy, infact day in, day out it is very difficult, but we must remember that we are not normal people and successful bodybuilders or athletes do not look normal and are not treat as being normal. Like in any other walk of life we must earn our respect on the road to becoming successful in our own rights. Determination is all about sacrifice in order to get what we really want. If you want to step on stage and compete but can’t bear to perform squats of any nature, or if your desperate to lose weight but cannot cope with life without alcohol/curries then chances are your not determined enough. You are not alone if you are one of these people, but there are ways to significantly increase this determination.

Firstly think about what you really want your body to look like, visualise this in your minds eye, remember this. Now take a close look in the mirror, be honest with yourself. What needs improving? Write these down or at least make a mental note. If you have problems doing this then ask a friend to do it for you, be careful whom you ask. A knowledgeable gym instructor or gym owner is likely to be more helpful than a spouse/partner. Urge them to be honest with you and to comment as a judge rather than a friend. Now pay close attention to the criticism that comes your way, embrace it and use it as a tool to improve your training and eating habits. Do not let this defeat you, acknowledge that their is work to be done and this is largely up to you as a person, almost like a test of character.

Put things into perspective, if you have had a weight problem (over or under) that has been bothering you for years think about the amount of torment you have put yourself under. Think about the effect it has had on your self-esteem and confidence. Consider all the pleasures in life that you have missed out on, due to your low self-esteem and confidence. Now think that all these problems could be eradicated at a rate of 2lb of fat loss per week. For example 3 stone of fat can be removed within 4-5 month. Is this a fair price to pay for solving a significant problem that has been holding you back for years? Give it some serious thought. All of this helps create the foundations needed to become determined. Think about the way in which you are able to change the shape of your body in a relative short space of time, this should excite you. Think about the new you, the sky’s the limit!

In conclusion then I have briefly considered the importance of motivation and determination and discussed their relationship with successful eating and training habits. As previously mentioned there is a fair amount of overlap between the qualities needed to create a successful mind-set. For example Motivation and determination also include issues of will power, not to mention commitment, the ability to focus and concentrate as well as issues of self-belief. So take time out and think about how you can obtain that physique you so badly want by utilising your minds potential. It is also important to recognise that the mind is the button that ‘turns the body on.’ This is further illustrated by the fact that the mind always quits before the body, establishing the mind as a real potential workout enhancer. Forget the latest supplement that promises an abundance of lean gains or fat loss, and consider what a powerful mind can do for you. Mastering these traits will lead to gains beyond any supplement and are truly the biggest contributory factor to reaching your full potential, whatever your chosen sport.

Editor's note: For more infomation on the power of the mind read the best selling book "Dianetics".

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