A lot of things can hinder your gains in the gym. Injuries, illness, fatigue, working too much, but one thing many guys overlook is the mental aspect of bodybuilding. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy when it comes to progressing in the gym. It’s easy to go through the motions without actually accomplishing much. It’s even easier to skip the gym all together. I know there are a few times throughout the year when I’m physically okay to go to the gym, but I’m just not feeling it mentally. The best thing to do is try and push through these periods before you end up going into a full on slump. Skipping the gym once may be okay every once in awhile, but keep doing it and eventually you will end up skipping more than you go. The old slippery slope as they would say. (I knew a girl once who was called the old slippery slope, never did find out why.)
What I want to do with this article is point out some mental mistakes many guys make when it comes to their fitness and try to give you some ways to overcome these mistakes. Hopefully this will be able to help some of you.
1. Comparing Yourself To Others
This can actually be positive and negative. Using other people’s accomplishments, physiques, lifting stats, etc, can be used as a benchmark for where you would like to be. Seeing the Calum Von Mogers of the world can motivate you to work harder and improve yourself. This kind of thinking is okay. When jealousy and envy take over though, well then that’s when you will start to have problems. There isn’t anything wrong with admiring other people, but it’s better to want to be the kind of person others admire.
On the flip side of idolizing certain people is comparing yourself to others in a negative way, which happens to beginners quite often. It can actually be quite detrimental to one’s attitude and motivation if not kept in check. For a person who is new to the gym, they may find themselves feeling inadequate, if not downright intimidated by bigger, stronger guys in the gym. If you find yourself feeling like this, you may start feeling like quitting. This happens because of the thinking that you aren’t progressing fast enough, or you aren’t doing the right things to be like them. You effectively take yourself out of the game by competing against someone who is already far ahead of you. The thing you need to remember though is that you can always improve, and no matter how great some guys seem, at some point they had to start right where you are.
You also shouldn’t compare yourself to others for the same reason you wouldn’t compare a orangutan and a gorrilla physically. We are all genetically different. What is difficult for you might be naturally easy for someone else. What works for someone else might not work for you. The best thing to do is focus on yourself and your goals. Make small goals and aim to crush them as quickly as possible. If you are truly focused on improving yourself, you won’t have time to care about how far ahead others are compared to you.
This is a big one for me. Sometimes I find myself talking myself out of going to the gym simply because I wait until it’s too late. I’ll say I want to go by a certain time and then screw around until
that deadline approaches. When the time finally comes I’m either too tired, too lazy feeling, or find some other excuse not to go. What I’ve started to do is force myself to go. Once I get to the gym, no matter how tired I am, I’ll get down to business and feel much better about things.
The best solution for procrastination is to just get things out of the way as soon as you can. Then you can screw around all you want after. If you keep telling yourself you’ll do it later, later will never come. Try to come up with a routine. Once something comes to be a habit, you will find that you are much less likely to put it off until later. Key word is now, now, now. When you want to workout ask yourself, “Can I do it now?” If you can, do it, don’t wait. If you can’t do it now, do it as soon as now becomes available. Waiting can be one of the biggest gain killers.
3. Letting Your Ego Get In The Way
Is your goal to build quality muscle? Is benching 225 lbs with perfect form for 8-12 reps better for muscle gain then benching 315 lbs for 2 awful reps that put barely any strain on the pecs? The answer is obvious but some guys let their competitive side take over. They try to compete with other guys in the gym and end up ego lifting. This rarely leads to making gains but does help in making you look foolish as well as increasing the probability of injury.
Whether it be done to out lift someone, showing off for chicks, or just thinking you need to lift as much as you possibly can for the sake of looking cool, ego lifting is counterproductive. Guys like Kai Greene stress using reasonable weight and good form for a reason. Your object is to gain muscle, don’t worry about anything else other than that. You shouldn’t even be concerned with anyone else in the gym. Unless you are a powerlifter or competitive athlete, there is no reason you should try to compete with others in the gym, especially when it comes to sacrificing your gains to do so.
4. Being Afraid To Fail
Many guys will plateau at some point in the gym and just stay there. They will get stuck on a certain weight and never go beyond that. A part of it is because they don’t know how to break through the plateau, but the bigger issue often times is that they are scared to try harder. Some are scared of hurting themselves, while others are scared of looking foolish. The common fear shared though is that they will fail in some way or another. Well the best advice I can give you is to fail.
You will never lift your goal weight it you are afraid to try it. And if you try it, there is a good chance you will fail to lift it. There’s no shame in that. You can’t expect to just go out and bench 315 lbs right a way. But you can’t also expect to get to that weight when you are afraid to even try 225. You need to work yourself up to it in increments over time. It won’t be easy, but you can’t quit just because you get stuck at some point. Even if you hit that 315 one day, there’s a good chance the next time you try you will fail. That’s just how it goes. You just have to keep working on it until you find yourself trying to bust through a new plateau. That’s how progress works. Focus on incrementally increasing the weight while being safe as you can.
You may get to a point where you feel like you have reached the goals you have set out. Sometimes it occurs faster than you thought and you might end up not being sure which road to take. You can take the first road and stay where you are with your goals achieved, or you can take the harder road and try to keep progressing by making new goals. For some people it’s okay to settle. Usually those people are at the top of their game though. If you feel like you can still do more, be better, then why would you settle? Even if you get the perfect body, you can still find things to fine tune. Even if you achieved your weight lifting number goals, you can probably improve just a little more.
Don’t ever settle because once you do, you will start to go backwards. Arnold Schwarzenegger never settled. Once he got his first, second, third Olympia he could of just called it quits. He was already rich and well known. But he didn’t settle, he kept going, kept improving. He kept setting new goals and even now still tries to improve himself. With the right attitude, you can achieve your goals are then far surpass them. Imagine setting your life goal, the one thing you always wanted, and achieving it. Then after you achieve it you keep working and keep trying to be better. You will get to the point where you look back on a goal that once was so important, what was once everything to you, and realize it was just a stepping stone for something so much better. Never settle. Always strive for greatness.