Rule 1: Just Do It
Regardless of what you think at the time, just pack the bag and go to the gym. Just get there. Even if you’re sure that you’ll just sit there on a bench, sulking about missing your TV show, do it anyway. In 99 cases out of 100 something strange happens by the time you’ve changed and walk out into the gym: You’re motivated!
I’m guessing that we all have different triggers – whether it’s seeing your own beer-belly in the mirror, thinking about the hot babe or hunk who happens to be there at the same time, or simply good ol’ maschosism combined with the smell of iron (not uncommon in bodybuilding circuits), it really doesn’t matter.
Even with the initial intent of doing a minimal workout, you almost always end up doing a pretty good job in exhausting yourself anyway. And hey … You’ll feel much better afterward!
Rule 2: Just Eat It
There is an exception to the first rule, and that is if you croak after 15 minutes thanks to a sudden drop on energy levels, aka. “Hitting the Wall.” This is de-motivating. The culprit here is often that you screwed up planning the meals prior to the workout.
If you’ve ever tried working out on an empty stomach in the morning, you know that it’s not the time to set any new personal records. You’ve probably also noticed that the plates somehow got heavier since last time (I heard a guy claim it was because they absorbed moist from the air, like a sponge. He’s not a physics major by the way). The weakness you experience here is simply because your energy reserves are low.
The pre-workout meals work the same way – if you haven’t had anything to eat since lunch, don’t count on being too successful in the gym at 6 p.m, especially if the lunch was a salad and a plain sandwich on white bread!
As a rule of thumb, try to load up on carbs (pasta, rice, oatmeal, potatoes, rough bread) the meals before the workout, and top it off by a small snack about an hour before the actual workout. This will ensure that you’re loaded with all the energy you need throughout the workout.
(On a side note, this carb-loading is not recommended when you try to diet down, but if you’re looking to add some serious mass – this is one of the best ways to make it happen!)
Rule 3: Challenge Thyself
One of the key elements of success is to set up measurable goals, and to keep raising the bar so that you are constantly challenged. This principle lends itself very well to bodybuilding.
Measure yourself, and set a goal that you will have increased the measurement by inch in a month from today. Or measure your waist and try to decrease it with an inch per week. Or challenge yourself to do to 10 reps with 20 pounds extra on the bar when doing squats next time. Your imagination is your limit.
Keep in mind that you’re probably not perfectly equal as far as strength and endurance goes, so reach an agreement on what’s reasonable for both parties. What’s the point of a fixed game? The last word is one of caution: While you should be focused on the challenge at hand, don’t go crazy and sacrifice health or compromise your form just to reach the goal. What’s the point of reaching the short-term goal in arm development, if it also meant that you injured a joint that will make you take two steps back for the one step you took forward?
Rule 4: Visualization
Since the ’70s, the best pro bodybuilders have been talking about the importance of letting your mind into the action. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to visualize how his biceps grew as he trained them, focusing on the images of huge, peaked mountains.