Why do you work out? If you are looking at this post, you must have a desire to be fit or at least live a healthier lifestyle. We spend a fortune on skinny lattes, waist trimmers, and get fit quick schemes that leave us unsatisfied and depressed. I have a challenge for you walk into any local gym and ask what the most important muscle is to work. You will get wide arrange of answers anywhere from the quads to the biceps, and even the psychotic individuals that say calves. None of these answers are wrong but we have neglected the most important muscle in our daily routine.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else”. We have all seen that “GYM BRO” with the shirt that is two sizes to tight, a gallon water bottle, and flexing in front of the mirror after every set to admire the “gains”. Although we love the result of our fitness journey it is impossible to complete it without having a general knowledge of what you are doing. I love cars, but I am not going to go outside to my Ford Fiesta and start tearing apart the engine in order to find that clicking noise. That is why I go to an individual that has but in years of study and hours of manual labor to master their craft. In this series of blogs, I want to tackle some “Mental Muscles” that we must work out in order to get the most out of our fitness experience. If you can master these key mental hurdles, you will have the confidence in the gym which is better than 90% of your average gym population.
Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other – Walter Elliot
When you strip down working out to its basic form it is the moving of weights up and down. I feel bad leaving the last sentence like that. Maybe I should have fireworks go off and say “TA DA”. However, that would be misleading and not paint the full picture that is involved in your personal fitness journey. You will have times when you are asked to increase your weight at the gym. In that moment you are having a battle within yourself. You will ask questions like “can I lift the weight”, “Will I have the proper form”, or “Will I brake a bone”. When you have that war in your heart that is when you make the choice. Will I lift the weight or will the weight beat me, will I be able to keep my form or will I allow myself to be slack off, or better yet will I be able to keep my dignity if this weight beats me.
In 2013 the Philadelphia 76ers hired a General Manager named Sam Hinkie. When he was hired the 76res where in the middle of the pack in the NBA. Sam HInkie made some sacrifices and traded away several players in order to have stockpile picks for future drafts. Sam Hinkie was coined with the phrase “trust the process” and now they are one of the top teams in the NBA. That phrase rings true in your everyday life. You must trust that what you are doing is enough to get the job done. When you face the weights at the gym you must trust the process. Repeating the same movements, making sure the form is perfect, and spending hours in the gym have led you to conquer the task that before you. Persevere through your own mental battles, Persevere through all the setbacks, and push through every hurdle.
I did an experiment when I was at the gym one day. I loaded the bar to a heavy weight using 45 lb plates. I wish I could tell you that I lifted it with the majesty and grace of a baby unicorn. Sadly, I looked more like a baby giraffe learning to walk for the first time. I would say that the first part of my experiment was a failure. I then took the 45lb. and replaced the same weight with 25lb. and 10lb. plates. I lifted it with proper form and technique. So how could it be that I lifted the same weight with lower plates, and could not lift the weight with heavier plates? The answer is simple, I told myself that the weight with the lower plates was easier than the weights with the heavier plates. With the lower plates I told myself I would persevere through this movement because it was easier.
You will have to mentally prepare to tackle any obstacle that comes your way. If you go into the gym already winning the battle of the mind, you will open yourself up to a world you never thought possible. Again, I will quote the great Arnold Schwarzenegger “Strength does not come from winning, your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Embrace the struggle, win the battle of the mind, persevere through the movements, and you will conquer your goals.