The Missing Link: Mental Fitness
Your fitness journey should be every bit spiritual and mental as it is physical. - G.M.
In this post we will talk about what I believe is missing from most workout programs and other fitness advice books: the mental aspect of your fitness goals. Weights, cardio, and nutrition will only get you so far if there are emotions, habits, or feelings holding you back from your true potential.
The tools to reach all of your fitness goals are out there. So why is it that so many people are having a hard time reaching their goals? Let’s discover the missing link and a take a leap forward toward changing your life forever.
What is Mental Training?
Mental training is a core function of success in your fitness journey and in your life. It can be one of the most important tools you have. Mental training requires you to dig deep into yourself to understand why you have certain behaviors. Look at what core emotional issues may be holding you back, focus on improving those mental obstacles, and consciously work to replace negative behaviors with those that help you reach your goals.
If you do the work required—although I know that it can be quite difficult to sift through the basis of negative emotions—you can become not only more fit but see your life change for the better permanently.
Set your mind to support your goals. Change what you tell yourself about behaviors or desires that sabotage your efforts to be healthy. For example, replace the thought of, “I love candy” with “I love feeling healthy and invigorated.”
Start to become very conscious of your inner monologue, the way you talk to yourself and the things you say. Find positive mantras that support your goals to replace negative self-talk.
Some of the best athletes, actors, moms and most successful people in the world are successful because they have discovered this missing link. They have trained themselves to believe in their goals and to work as hard as they can and dedicate their life to being the best at what they do.
Like these people, strive to bring your best self each and every day. Understand that there will be setbacks, failures, and mental challenges, but you will persevere and come out on top.
It could be, though, that you have some serious issues to grapple with or that you are in such a mental rut with negativity that you need to seek out a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist to help you work through the process. Don’t be afraid to do so. If you really want to become healthy, the mental aspect is crucial.
There is no such thing as the perfect technique or the perfect workout plan except the workout plan that works best for you!
Don’t get too caught up on why a certain plan that may work for someone else perfectly does not work for you. Every person has a different body type and will react to different strategies and techniques.
What one person eats may help them gain muscle while it may cause you to gain fat and that is ok as long as you are paying attention to how your body is reacting.
You will want to make sure that you are testing what is working and what is not working. Don’t overcomplicate things when it comes to your fitness results because at the end of the day fitness should be adding value to your life and be something that you have a positive association with.
Don’t train yourself to hate nutrition or exercise because you are being too strict or hard on yourself because you didn’t do everything perfect. No one is perfect including personal trainers and fitness models that you see in magazines and tv.
Your mindset will make or break your results if you are not careful and pay attention to what you are saying and how you are training your mind to associate things.
An example would be, how most people think about “eating healthy”, they automatically think of restriction and starvation. They think about all of the foods that they enjoy eating and how they will NEVER be able to eat those foods again and have “fun”.
The major pitfall with this mindset is you are training your mind to think that eating healthy is bad and, that will cause you to avoid making the necessary changes or even worse, make you hate every second of your program until you get frustrated and quit and then the guilt comes on.
So use the fundamentals of exercise and nutrition but don’t get too stuck on one certain ”correct” way and test what works best for your body.
First what I recommend is that you get a journal and you start documenting what your goals are and get very clear on what it is you want to achieve first.
A common mistake people make is they get started on some form of workout program without clearly defining what it is that they want to accomplish.
You need to know how much weight loss/gain you want, what you want your body to look like, how you will measure your success, what your reward systems will be, what is your plan when you reach an obstacle, how will you change your belief systems, and how often will you measure these results.
If you do not have all of these in place then I suggest that you do not get started until you do. Most people for some reason or another are anti writing their goals down. But what you will find when you write down your goals is you will have more clarity.
Next test your body fat and weight to give you a starting point. This is a crucial step because this will give you the true numbers to measure and see how you are progressing.
After you test your body fat and get weighed I want you to then get yourself on a fitness program of some sort. If you do not know where to start my book can help
You can also go hire a personal trainer which I highly recommend or get a fitness dvd. The key to getting the results you want is to get started on something and have a plan.
Whatever you do DO NOT just wing it. If you have no plan, then plan to fail.
After you get a workout program I want you to get a nutrition program set up. Seeing a nutritionist can really help with your accountability and direction when it comes to reaching your goals. Remember the clearer you are about what you are supposed to be doing for your goals the more successful you will be.
After you get a nutrition program set up I want you to invest in a gym membership if possible. The reason why I suggest this, is the gym’s environment will support you in staying motivated. You are essentially becoming a part of a mastermind group which is a group of like minded individuals who are striving for the same goals.
When you get all of this put into place and you have your plan, I want you to give yourself at least a year to start to see SIGNIFICANT changes in your lifestyle and results.
Invest in yourself and in your future. Your health is the best investment you can make.
Many people do not like the idea of getting older, fatter, and less attractive. These are things that give many of us the fear of getting old. Sometimes you may wake up in the morning and think to yourself that life is just passing you by and you are not ready to be “maturing” at the rate you are.
What most people know about working out is it definitely helps them with getting more muscle, less body fat, and an increase in energy and vitality.
But a huge benefit that they may not know is by keeping a healthy and fit lifestyle, you will age better because working out and challenging yourself keeps your hormones optimally functioning.
When you are getting older each year, if you do not exercise and take care of your body then you will lose muscle mass and also reduce your body’s natural fat burning/muscle building hormones EVERY year.
If you are serious about keeping a young and healthy appearance and staying as attractive and confident as possible then follow these tips below
- have a well balanced weight training program where you are progressively challenging your muscles each week and perform these workouts at least 3 times per week
-make sure you are proactively working on getting better and deeper rest so you can recover from your workouts
-keep nutrition simple by eating healthy greens, quality lean proteins, healthy fats, and keeping the word “balanced” stuck in your head.
-challenge yourself by doing cardio work to keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy
-be sure to stretch before, during, and after your workouts to improve/maintain optimal flexibility
-if possible get a massage once a month
If you would like more strategies on how you could get the results you want for the long term then buy my book http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1938301234
There are certain things that will allow you to bring your heart rate levels to a point that it has never been before or rarely reached. There are specific exercises that you can do that can ensure that your heart rate will spike very quickly.
The reason why you want your heart rate to spike is it helps with heart health as well as keeping your metabolism revved up. It is the challenge that you are putting your body through that is going to get you the results you want and allow you to have that extra dose of energy at the end of the day.
A set of exercises that I used today with some clients that were difficult but effective were bosu ball burpees, rowing machine for cardio, 5 minute step ups on an elevated bench, stair lunges, and stair runs with dumbbells over your head.
An example would be if you super set bosu ball burpees with the rowing machine and you do each exercise for 60 seconds at full effort, you will notice a significant spike in your heart rate.
This is a challenging super set that is different than most workout routines and it can keep you from feeling bored because there are so many things going on.
Then if you want to really challenge yourself do the five minute step up where you choose a weight that is somewhat challenging and you do a step up for five straight minutes before you move on to interval cardio training.
The benefit of doing this before you go into cardio is by exhausting your legs and getting your lungs pumping before you do the cardio it will cause your body to work much harder. In return this will cause your heart rate to increase faster.
The next two exercises of doing stair lunges for time followed by doing stair runs with weights over your head is a very challenging endeavor but you will like the benefits that it will bring such as mental toughness building and an increase of your “wind”.
I typically suggest that you do these exercises for intervals of a minute per exercise but I have had some advanced clients do them for as long as three minutes.
Always push yourself to be better than you were yesterday. Fitness is a lifestyle and once you commit to it you will never want to go back.
The circuit below is a circuit that is designed to challenge the muscles while simultaneously increasing your heart rate and giving you a better chance of building the lean muscle tissue that you want.
The goal of this workout is to do each exercise one right after the other without resting and do each exercise for 15 reps. Do not rest at all in between sets until you complete the entire circuit.
The target is to do the circuit of exercises for 3 -5 rounds. Going through the circuit once is considered 1 round. Good Luck
Cable Chest Press
Standing Military Press
Cable Bicep Curl
Rope Tricep Pushdown
Do your workout in 45 minutes or less
A Demonstration On How You Can Get Better and More Results in Less Time
Garrett Gunderson (my client) performing a bicep superset. This particular type of set is a technique that I enjoy using to keep the bicep under constant tension and to pump as much blood into the muscle as possible. The two exercises that Garrett is using is an ez-curl bar bicep curl immediately followed by seated bicep curls with a slight lean in.
We will do a set of 10 reps with a heavy weight followed by a set of 15 reps of a light weight and then repeat that cycle 3 times. So doing 10 reps of ez curl bar biceps followed by 15 reps of the seated biceps curls leaning in would be considered 1 set.
Be Creative to Get Your Results
When you are looking to get a workout in and you do not know what to do or do not have access to gym equipment you will still want to be creative.
Some of the best workouts that I have done with my clients are workouts on stairs. Use the stairs to be able to increase your heart rate and challenge your muscles in different ways.
You can do runs up the stairs, push ups up and down the stairs, two legged hops, single legged hops, calf raises, high knees, and so many more exercises.
The key to making this effective is using your creativity and not allowing the lack of a gym membership or lack of equipment to stop you to get to your goals.
A sample workout that I use with my clients goes as follows
60 second run up and down the stairs
60 second push ups up and down the stairs
60 second two legged hops up the stairs
60 second single leg hop up the stairs
Repeat cycle 3 times and make sure to put 100% effort.
Warm up 10 minutes
30 Dumbbell chest presses 15lbs
30 Dumbbell chest presses 15lbs
40 Reverse Lunges
25 Wide Bent over rows 10lbs
40 Reverse Lunges
25 Wide Bent over rows 10lbs
Reverse Plank 1 minute
Traveling Pike or inch worm 15 yard
12 Off set push ups per side
20 Reverse supermans 20
Plank 1 minute
Walk on incline for 30 minutes
If you are trying to get rid of the extra fat on the back side of your legs or just want to feel more confident then the leg curl is a great exercise for you to do. This exercise will help in your overall program. You cannot spot reduce but you can most definitely build these muscles to become visible once you drop the fat.
Perform 10-15 reps of these exercises to really get the results.
Need some creative ideas to use on the treadmill? Try this technique of walking backwards on the treadmill. It is a great way to use it on an incline as it can challenge your body in a different way.
Remember every time you change your workouts up they will make your body change. Variety is the key to results.
Leg Extension. The picture on the left is the starting position and the picture on the right is the end position. This exercise is a great exercise to develop your quadriceps (thighs).
Do reps of 10-15 for maximal results.
Do each exercise in each sequence for 15-20 reps with moderate weight and once you complete the sequence move on to the next one with no rest until you finish all 3 sequences. Your goal is to complete 3 rounds.
Chest Press Machine
Dumbbell Chest Press
Dumbbell Back Row
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