Strong Body, Stronger Mind: 6 Steps To Mental Muscle
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain mass, or get lean, or run futher mental strength will be the key to your success. Your goals may be physical, but your mind controls everything you do.
Just read some biographies of great runners, swimmers, football players, and even golfers. Their sports may be different, but all true champions reach the top by honing their mental game. Almost every trainee has a capable body; it’s the willing mind that sets the successes and failures apart!
Even if you’re not a pro athlete, don’t think you can get away with a mediocre mentality. Whether you want to gain five pounds of muscle or lose pounds of fat, you’ll need to make big changes to your habits, work ethic, and lifestyle.
Those big changes don’t come without strengthening and improving your mind. Your work is never done. It might be as tough for a newbie just to reach the gym as it is for a world-class sprinter to prep for a race. Your journey, however, is about you.
Feeling the pressure? I sure hope so! It’s all on you to get results, but that just means you also have the power to make things happen. With a few changes to your mindset, you can make your daunting goals seem like obstacles you just can’t wait to tackle! To help, here are six of my favorite tips for improving mental strength.
1 / Know What You Want
Before starting on your journey, you’ve got to know where you’re going. What do you want to accomplish with your body? Are you a young guy looking to get big, or do you want to lean down? Do you want to focus on strength for a sport, or would you rather focus on overall health? Do you have dreams of losing 100 pounds, running a marathon ,or becoming a professional athlete? It’s your body, your mind, and your choice. Remember that!
Despite the simplicity, answering the question “what do you want?” is difficult for most people. One reason that question is so hard is that it forces you to come to terms with your current state of affairs. You might want to be a behemoth bodybuilder, for instance, but if you’re already overweight to an unhealthy level, then gaining more weight isn’t a great idea. You’ll have to diet first, and that tough! It’s a lot easier in the long run if you’re honest with yourself and honest about your goals.
2 / Surround Yourself With Positive People
Once you decide to change your body, you might find that all sorts of previously pleasant people start to become discouraging. It’s rarely anything overt, though. You’ll just hear off-hand comments about your “Spartan” diet or “obsessive” training schedule, and some people will not-so-playfully poke fun at you for taking fitness seriously.
In the long run, these people can poison your progress. Outside negativity will eventually wear down even the most strong-willed, independent-minded person. And, even if you never cheat on your diet or miss a workout, constant negativity will cause you some serious stress. This is a real progress-killer for people trying to be their best.
While you always have to deal with stressful people, the trick is to minimize their influence on your life. You don’t need to cast out every person who’s not a die-hard fitness fanatic, but avoid people who belittle your goals.
3 / Do What You Hate
If you want to make everything else in your routine seem a little easier, aggressively tackle the stuff you hate the most. Dreading your next leg day? Do double your normal volume on squats! Is cardio getting your down? Crank up the treadmill speed and tough it out. Getting a little sick of your diet? Try eating everything with zero spices or herbs for a few days and see if your normal meals don’t seem a little less boring.
You can only make so many tough choices per day. It’s a lot easier to fall off the wagon when every meal and every workout feels like a burden. By forcing yourself to do the hard stuff, you effectively make exercise and dietary habits “easier,” freeing up your mental energy for other tasks.
4 / Maintain Momentum
“The highs are high, and the lows are lower.” That old adage applies to most endeavors, and fitness is no exception. For me and most of my clients, training hard and eating right becomes easier the longer we do it. Like any other habit, they are tough to start, but even tougher to break.
Consider your own momentum the next time you think about skipping a workout or having a cheat meal. Is it worth it? You won’t just suffer the ill effects of that one bad decision, you make it easier to slip up in the future.
5 / Set Short- And Long-Term Goals
When you try to improve your body, one of the worst things you can do is to become complacent. It’s fine to take a break now and again. Even pro athletes have “maintenance” periods, but you need to keep new goals in mind if you want to make continual progress.
To keep yourself moving forward, have short- and long-term goals going at the same time. Say you want to increase your run distance. If you’re currently running 2 miles, you might have a short-term goal of running 4 miles. Don’t stop there! Think about how much stronger you want to be and set a lofty goal: try for 5, 6, even 7 miles!
6 / Embrace Failure
It might hurt to hear this but, you should know that you are going to fail, and probably more than once before you reach your ultimate potential.
Even if you exert the utmost control over your diet and training, you’re going to have setbacks like bad workouts, periods of low energy, injuries, and external stress.
Know that this isn’t an excuse to be undisciplined, but an understanding that you’ll have to stay in the game for the long haul. If you don’t understand the likelihood of occasional setbacks, every mishap will seem like the end of the world.
Keep those failures to a minimum by remembering that you can never be forced to eat bad foods or sit on the couch instead of going to the gym. Optimize everything you can control, and understand that the things you can’t control may sometimes bring you down. The right mindset will allow you to bounce back as soon as possible!