Before each workout, I always made sure my thought process was that of ‘Conquering or Seizing the Day!’ I mentally put my mind in a Battle Phase or Combat Ready mode in order to follow some simple steps toward achieving what I always considered the impossible. Mental focus always set the pace for how I’d approach my workouts each day, especially if I were training with someone.
First, I’d shower for no other reason but to wake up and dust off the worries of the day. Second, I’d put on music that got my body moving in a way I thought was conducive to seeking and destroying my workout and training partners. Finally, I visualized the intense pumping sensation I’d receive from the workout of the muscle group I would soon be annihilating.
Now, I’m ready for whatever is coming my way as I see the gym as the battlefield and my training partners as the enemies trying to prevent my progress. Either I make them quit, or I do my best to make them wish they never showed up. It’s a war for me, plain and simple.
Mental focus means waking up early enough to prevent the worries of the day from taking hold of my mind. I’m typically up around 5:30 am and in the gym close to 6 am. I eat nothing and usually drink water, coffee, or a protein shake. Food comes after that battle, where I feed the muscles and then rest them until returning to the gym later in the evening for round two.
Photo: Irvin Geib
I noticed during my competition days that by waking up early for the morning clash with the Iron, the distractions of the day had no place in my mind to interfere with my ‘Muscle to Mind’ connection. No chit-chat with friends, no cell phones in the gym, no photos during training, no conversations about he said/she said stuff—only hardcore training and focus on winning the day.
A good workout partner is one who challenges you to excellence or pushes you to new limits in your workout. Those who show up to gossip, play, or simply watch are obstacles in your way.
I’d dispose of these individuals quickly and have zero feelings toward them, based on my sole purpose of wanting to be the best. If they didn’t put in the work, they didn’t belong in my camp. The only things I wanted to hear during training were the counting of reps or encouragement to do more.
Focus fuels determination, while chatter represents unwanted noise and distraction. You must be able to discern the difference and forge ahead.
I battled in the gym like a soldier at war. To me, there was no other way – it was sink or swim, survival of the fittest, a no plan B type of approach.
Separating the men from the boys was my mantra as I tried to eliminate those who did not share the same focus as me, those who were not striving to be the best not only in the gym or on that day but in the world.