by Anders JP Eskilsson
First and as commonly known, to become a competitive bodybuilder at a high level you need the fundamentals of eating essential foods, maintaining a solid supplements plan, and following a good training schedule. However, there is one factor which is not talked about too often and that’s the mental work ethics. To reach the higher levels of bodybuilding you must possess the right mindset, including the “fearless approach” of training with heavy weights. This is a major key.
Here’s the thing, at many times we think we train hard, but do we really? Because people who love to train often get comfortable in the way they exercise without even knowing it. This fact is the worst thing that can happen while you’re trying to add more muscle to your body. What we’re after trying to build muscles is the shock factor – the state where the muscle gets attacked in ways it’s not really comfortable with. By being too comfortable or chickening out and not giving your 100% effort might actually be the reason why you´re not gaining any muscle size.
One thing which historically signifies the best bodybuilders in general – not all but the most of them – is the work they did inside the gym, how hard they trained, and how heavy and controlled they lifted during their bodybuilding careers. Sure, there are genetics involved when it comes to building a great physique, but there is also the key factor of a fearless mindset when lifting heavy weights.
Many gym enthusiasts and bodybuilders are scared of performing really deep squats for example. They are scared to get hurt during heavy sets, so instead they do half ass reps and they are a bit wussy when it comes to lifting heavy and controlled. Squatting 5-6 or more plates on each side can be tough in the beginning and certainly within a full range of movement. It can be a bit unsteady in the beginning, even if you’re in control of the weight, and will be stressful times and the pain is something you have to overcome to break the natural limit to add size and strength. Remember that the basic exercises and movements are fundamental to the journey to be one of the best bodybuilders out there.
As an example of the value behind working extremely hard is what separate guys like Dorian Yates and Flex Wheeler. Wheeler presumably had better genetics than Yates but failed when it came to the mindset of being fearless and determined to do what was necessary in the gym to ultimately become a Mr. Olympia.
Moreover, sometimes we don’t realize how comfortable we have become in our own training until we workout with an experienced coach or sometimes even a friend who has a totally different approach to training. This situation can be a reality check and the key to maximizing the hypertrophy outcome just because you’re giving it the extra 10-20% in your performance.
In addition, this also involves another important key to continue growing, and that is to vary your training by shifting your sets, rep range, intensity and change the muscles you train together, etc. However, it is important to have a main focus which includes working hard and heavy even if you change up your training style from time to time.
Lifting heavy can hurt and should at times! If you look at ‘Pumping Iron’ when Arnold worked out with Franco Columbu or Ed Corney for example, you can clearly see that they are pushing themselves beyond the natural limit of pain while training biceps and squat for example. To keep on chasing that increased pump or blood flow into the muscles can hurt, but over time it will become more manageable. But it should never get too comfortable, as I mentioned before, because the shock factor is the key to adding size to your training.
So do you really want to be a bodybuilder? If so, realize that it takes a hell of a lot more than food and gear to get anywhere. And focus on overcoming your fear of heavy weights in a controlled way, of course. Dedicated training means going to hell and back again to ensure you become the victorious and successful athlete you’ve dreamed about ever since you got hooked on bodybuilding.