You’ve had that day, I know you have.
That day where you walk into the gym and everything’s going right. You’re feeling awesome, you’re looking awesome and you’re about to destroy your workout.
As you walk in, a light shines in from the doorway, illuminating your silhouette while white doves fly out from behind you. You whip off your shades and strut to the weights while Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees blares over the sound system (and the gym staff try and shoo all of the doves out of the windows, “where did they get the birds from?” you hear. “Someone call the RSPCA”).
You get to your weight and complete the first lift. Easy. It felt like nothing was on the bar (probably because it was your warm up set and nothing actually was on the bar). After a few more sets you know that the whole gym is watching you. You, a God among mere mortals, lifting this weight like Thor lifts his hammer. You spin around and shoot finger-guns at the nearest person and they collapse, fainting under your pure brilliance.
When you take a sip of water it tastes like the wine Jesus gave out. You pour it over your head to cool off and someone falls off their treadmill while checking you out. You’ve become what you’ve always wanted to be – a health and safety hazard. The rest of the session is more of the same; completely and utterly awesome. You leave the gym believing that you’ve slain a dragon.
However, the next time you enter the gym you trip over a dumbbell, your shorts rip and you fart when squatting.
What happened? Where did your superpowers go? Today, I’m going to restore them. I’m going to give you the power to awesome, use it wisely.
Tip #1 – Watch Action Films
The type of film that you see in the cinema and you walk out feeling like the main character. Don’t lie to me. Everyone goes and see’s James Bond and then opens their car with the clicker button from a few meters away pretending it’s a spy gadget from Mi5. You watch these heroes of bad-assery (meaning they’re hardcore, not disappointing in the posterior department) and then you want to be them. You take on hulk-like strength. You become a master of kung-fu. You start to fly. Probably not the last one, unless you can actually fly. In which case, stop reading this and start saving the world.
Essentially, you become so inspired by what you’re watching that you want to be like them. It also makes you believe that it’s possible so you believe in yourself. Try watching a Schwarzenegger film before doing an upper body session or, if you’re female, watch the Avengers for Natasha Romanov. This actually works.
It plays upon your natural instinct for wanting a role model. If we didn’t know human potential or didn’t believe in it, we would not accomplish anything. Whether your role model is real or fictional it’s good to have one. Even if they’re a friend. Someone who motivates you everyday to be and become a better person than you were yesterday.
Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Playlist Is On Point
Now, this may not be what you think it is. I’m talking about making sure your music gets you in the right headspace for the workout you’re about to complete. For squats, I much prefer easy to listen to music so that I can concentrate on my technique and the lift. For deadlifts, I need heavy metal and a lot of shouting so I’m psyched up.
It comes down to the person.
I’ve heard big burly men say that they listen to Taylor Swift because it helps them concentrate and petite women who say they listen to death metal because it gets them in the zone. Find the music that’s best for you.
What you can’t be doing, though, is spending so much time between sets switching songs and picking albums that you’re not focusing on the next one. You should design a playlist before hand to make sure that the time between sets is spent recovering and preparing for what’s next.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your headphones. Otherwise, you’ll have to listen to the music that the gym’s playing and everyone knows that it’s normally awful.
Tip #3 – Become an “I am” instead of an “I’m not”
This is a tip I picked up off of strength coach Andy Mackenzie.
You need to start thinking in terms of I AM strong, I AM fast, I AM good. As soon as you think “maybe I can’t do this” then failure is already seeping in through the cracks.
I’ve been reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography and the secret to his success was his belief in his strengths while also acknowledging his weaknesses. When he saw himself he was completely honest, however, this didn’t give him set backs. If he believed that his calfs weren’t as big as other bodybuilders or his abs weren’t as chiseled then he would tell himself. He would dedicate himself to strengthening his weaknesses to become better.
Equally, he would let himself know when he was doing f@#cking awesome. He would be truthful in saying where his advantages actually were. Something that a lot of people miss out on.
Acknowledging your bad points is not a bad thing. The defeated mentality comes with what you do next. Do you beat yourself up about it? Or do you get to work on improving it? If you’re constantly thinking “I’m fat” or “I’m poor” or “I’m lonely” then stop being so hard on yourself, value your own self worth and do something about it. Acknowledging your good points is not a bad thing either. People think that this leads to arrogance and conceit. But It’s not a bad thing if someone tells you that you’re looking good to say thanks and actually think to yourself “hey, I AM looking good aren’t I?” Because you are! The whole reason that people want to look good is to impress other people and yet when someone actually tells you people go “Oh, I’m not really but thank you.” Do you see how twisted that is?
Be honest and let yourself know what you are. I am strong in the gym. I am confident in life and I will conquer. It’s that simple.
Originally published Sep 16th 2015