Bodybuilding is mental. To gain muscle, get stronger, and power thru plateaus requires mind games. Learn how to trick yourself into growth!
Let’s Make a Deal
Making deals with yourself is one of the most important mental tools in the bodybuilder’s toolbox of motivational tricks. Bodybuilding is a lot more mental than most people realize, not just the reading, research, and study but in using the mind to help achieve your goals. Tools like visualization are really important too but today we are looking at my personal favorite that I use almost daily. Like the gameshow with my old time favorite host Monty Hall, “Lets Make a Deal” requires strategy and discipline.
Making deals with yourself is an awesome strategy to help keep you motivated and catapults your bodybuilding progress. To be successful though requires that you keep your word, when you make a promise to yourself you MUST keep it – end of discussion. Renege once and this technique becomes useless because you never trust someone again who has lied to you, especially when its yourself. So, KEEP YOUR WORD. Now lets look at how making deals with yourself can help your fitness motivation and progress.
We all have things we don’t like doing. We all have times that we don’t feel like working out. The deals are all of this form:
If you do (unpleasant task) then you can (reward).
The trick is to make it fair, achievable, and to never take the reward unless you accomplish the task precisely. Close is not good enough, you must meet or exceed. Lets look at a deal I made with myself just an hour ago. I hate doing core, its time consuming, painful, and not the most interesting.
I usually do two rotations of my rotisserie core workout. I REALLY didn’t want to do two rotations so I made myself a deal. I normally hold my planks for 30 seconds using a 25lb plate for additional resistance. Here was the deal, if (unpleasant task) I could hold all three planks for 45s instead of 30s then (reward) I could skip the second rotation! Its a deal! Motivation like this can catapult you to the next level!
Lets take another example coupling an exercise you hate with one you love. Say you are strength training and absolutely HATE doing biceps but you are in danger of looking like T-Rex with spindly arms and huge legs. Here is your deal, If you do three sets of 90lb barbell curls with at least 8 reps in each set then you get to do three sets of squats, otherwise you cant do ANY squats.
Lets take another example of deal-making that I use successfully all the time. I usually am really motivated to workout but now and then I don’t, winters are usually the worst time. On those days when I don’t feel like working out I make myself a deal: If you workout for just 10 minutes then you can quit but you have to be hardcore for that 10 minutes. 90% of the time what I find is that after my first set I feel AWESOME and I end up finishing my workout – it was just getting started that was tough. Another win for mind-games!
Most people are pretty motivated to lift weights but they have real trouble with cardio – they hate it! Incremental commitment is a trick that I use for the rare occasions when I don’t feel like cardio. Its like the above except its just a FIVE minute commitment, anybody can do cardio for 5 minutes – really. Once you start, you gotta do it for exactly 5 minutes. At the end of that 5 minutes, you can decide if you want to stop or commit for another 5 minutes. Remember, anyone can do five silly minutes of cardio. And so it goes, you never have to commit for more than 5 minutes but once you do, you MUST do that 5 minutes. You might be amazed how well this technique can work!
How about this deal, I use this all the time too. We all know its important to constantly change your workout but its a time consuming pain in the butt to design another workout so many people don’t switch workouts as often as they should. Sounds like a deal in the making to me, doesn’t it? How about this deal, “If (difficult task) I can go up one rep on each exercise today while maintaining flawless form then I (reward) don’t have to design a new workout plan. You will notice that this is subtly different, this is of the form
If you do (unpleasant task) then you can avoid (punishment).
Some people respond better to the stick than the carrot, you know yourself best and know which will be more effective for you personally. You get the idea, what deals will help motivate YOU and vault you to the next level?