Monday, March 23, 2009

Focus Factor: Put Your Mind in the Muscle

To transform our bodies we must train with total focus.

On the weight? The mirror? Our Form? The music? The surroundings?

ANSWER: in the Muscle.

Training with weights is a wonderful and life-affirming activity. You push yourself to your limits. You test yourself and what you're capable of; both mentally and physically. You experience sensations in your body that make you feel alive, you feel the pump as oxygen rich blood rushes into your muscles as they squeeze and extend and the burn from lactic acid building up as your muscles fatigue. This is where you need to focus. Put your mind in the muscle.

The weights we use are simply tools for self improvement. Hammers don't build homes, carpenters do. Weights don't build a healthy body, you do. This is why it's important to select weights that challenge you, that push you to your mental and physical limits. They take you to a place where you feel the pump and the burn. But don't focus on the weight...

Focus on the Muscle. Focus on feeling all the sensations as you SQUEEZE and EXTEND your muscles. Of course this causes the weight to move up and down, but your focus needs to be on squeezing your muscles tightly and then carefully extending them.

In the gym we reach a point of perceived failure. The point at which we feel that another rep is impossible and out of the question. This is only a test, I guarantee that this initial perception is a false barrier and merely a mental construct. You must decide to push further and achieve greater. I promise, if you believe it, you can achieve it.

Imagine that you are the point of perceived failure, but suddenly everyone in the gym stopped what they were doing and started shouting and encouraging you to get one more rep. At this point you would summon the strength and fortitude to complete at least one and probably many more reps. You're perceived barrier was totally fictitious, it was a mental block. You can always override mental blocks and take your body to your true physical limitations. To do this you must pour your heart out and give your true 100%.

I will be the first to admit that often times I let the mental block shut me down. I hold back. I surrender. I reach a point of perceived failure and decide to quit instead of summoning the courage to persevere. I'll attempt to justify it to myself, "I'm already in good shape." "My ____ is fine." "It's just not my day." "I don't feel very strong right now." "I'll hit _____ hard next week." No matter how many excuses I can think of, I can't get that set or that workout back. It's gone for good, and I am the one that missed out, I'm the one that quit.

This situation reminds me that I need to do my best right now! We can only live in the present moment and it is up to us to be our best here and now! You can learn from the past and plan for the future but you can only live NOW. When you give anything less than your best, you are letting yourself down. Always strive to be your best right now.

Of course their are hiccups and disappointments along the way, but they should not be dwelled upon. Learn from past and move on. Flush your mistakes and get back to the present.

I started this article planning on discussing "mind in the muscle and focus" for weight training and ended discussing life in much broader terms. I believe the reason for this is because training and physical transformation is one of the best metaphors for life. In life we hopefully all aim to improve and progress, to be our best today and even better tomorrow. This directly parallels physical transformations. We all want change, but not just a generic change in any direction. We desire change for the better, we want Progress. Think if the Butterfly changed into a Caterpillar, that would be a monumental disappointment.Progress, Progress, Progress is our call of duty. For all the TSCers that have swayed from the path of health and fitness you can reclaim and recommit yourselves to your goals right now. Flush the mistakes, and get on track.

Transform your body now and change your life forever. Get the TSC Heart of a Champion Program and Make it Happen!

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