Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
"Programs" and "systems" tend to simplify things. They enable us to get a clear picture of what we're after, and to decide on a plan of achieving that goal. They show us the steps we need to take to get where we want to go.
I am forever trying to simplify things and present FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES to IronMan readers. Why dwell on non-essentials? Since everybody is different and is unique, each one must make a sensible adaptation of the basic, right methods to his own pattern of living.
Recently, I went over in my own mind, the VITAL STEPS that every person must take in order to go from physically average or under-par to physically superior and greatly above the norm, in strength, shape, and physique. What, I asked myself, did every fellow who was in the Iron Game NEED TO KNOW, FOLLOW, ACCEPT and DO, in order to get what he wanted from his training.
Amazingly, the answer boiled down to a four-point program. A program which, interestingly enough, will lead to success in ANYTHING, once the principles are thoroughly digested - and if they are followed. So, if you will, go right ahead and use this plan in every area of your life. See the inevitable results - in anything you want badly enough to do. But, for our purpose here, I want to present the four step plan to the build you want as a guide, aimed at showing you how you can - unquestionably - get where you want to go with the weights.
Visualize Your Goal
One of the most common mistakes among trainees just taking up the Iron Pills is their attitude of self-reproach. They actually feel contempt for themselves inside - for being physically weak and underdeveloped. Or, they sulk because they've got too much excess flab around the middle and they feel "what's the use, I'm a wreck, and I'll always stay a wreck. I'll never build myself up like I'd want to!"
HOGWASH! I say to such negativism.
Never mind right now if you're the scrawniest, most awfully built wreck on earth. Forget about your spare tire - even if it's so big it could be used on a Mack truck! DON'T WASTE TIME DWELLING ON NEGATIVES.
You must - even if only, right now, because I say so - BELIEVE IN THE REALIZATION OF WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME. See yourself as you want to be, NOT as you are now.
The first step, the starting point, is to visualize clearly and constantly what kind of physique you're after. if you have no picture in your mind then you are robbing yourself of powerful incentive to achieve. You are, in effect, dooming yourself to struggle for something whose identity is not fully known.
Suppose that an engineer said that he wanted to erect a giant bridge. A bridge that would carry hundreds of thousands of tons of trucks, cars, trains and freight; but when you asked him for a picture of his plans, or for a verbal description of how that bridge were to look, he simply shrugged and said, "I don't know." Would you have much faith in that engineer's ability to erect a project whose image was not even clear in his mind? No?
Then how do you expect to have FAITH IN YOU when you do not know exactly what it is that YOU have set as your own goal?
Of course you're going to be doubtful when you don't even know for sure what you're after. But change that. Change it by VISUALIZING yourself as you might be and ought to be; and by burning that image in your subconscious night and day. Tell yourself - point by point - what you want, and what your goals are. A broad, powerful back. Thick arms and huge deltoids. A massive chest, strong abdominals and powerful, well muscled legs.
SEE YOURSELF WITH THE BUILD THAT YOU WANT! See it and hold that vision in your mind's eye no matter who or what comes up to discourage you. You can have the physique, the power, the super health you want; but only if you BELIEVE that you can have it.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that what you are now. or the sorry condition you may be in does not matter one iota.
Are you now lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a major illness? It does not matter. If you will use your wonderful willpower and resolve to cast aside your physical suffering and see what you can be and what you want to be, you will make it. You will recover and you will - step by step- if only you'll have the determination - rebuild your body. You can do it if you impress upon your mind NOW that you will not admit defeat, and that you will not throw in the towel and surrender to adversity. Project an image on your mind of the way you truly want to look and be. It's yours if you really want it, and if you'll not stop at anything to get it! But first: GET THAT IMAGE OF YOUR GOAL IN YOUR MIND.
Nobody can get anything great in life without being wholly absorbed in its attainment. You can't be unusual and, from a physical or intellectual standpoint, superior to the average, without becoming "different" from other people. Those who laugh at, ridicule or attack your goals or you do so because of their own deep-lying feelings of worthlessness, frustration and inner uncertainty. Being obsessed with achieving a goal (provided the goal is not destructive) is certainly not "unhealthy," "neurotic," or "strange." It is a sign of a vital, alive center in yourself that gives you one more good reason to go on living and to fight for your life's purpose than ordinary people have. And that's a pretty amazing thing.
To succeed at lifting - or at anything else- the desire for success must burn ALWAYS. It is enough to save the actual training time and physical exertion for three or four weekly barbell sessions. But the IMAGE of what you want those workouts to produce must be with you always. This image must be your constant companion and source of undying inspiration through good times and bad. REMIND yourself of what your goal is and where you're headed. Keep pondering and reflecting upon how badly you want that strength and those muscles - and how. slowly but surely, your workouts are bringing you closer to your goal.
Do not permit yourself to form friendships with goof offs or know it alls. Don't cultivate the companionship of those who do not share your own important values.
There's no reason to justify or explain yourself to anyone on earth.
There is no reason to waste valuable time and energy on hating those who are against you, or even caring about them. Go your positive way, and leave the others to their negative way. You are a person who has every right to do as he pleases - provided you hurt no one else in the process. Seek out those individuals who share, or at least who genuinely respect you for what you are.
I am amazed when a lifter tell me that his girlfriend doesn't "approve" of his training - or that she chides him about it, and pokes fun at him because he works out. Listen, friend, if such is the case with you, then find another girlfriend PRONTO! You don't need a romantic partner who makes assaults on your interest and attacks your goals. There are plenty of levelheaded women and girls in this world who respect a man for what he is, and who give support, not discouragement, to those activities he pursues. Find a partner who ADDS to your life - not one who makes your life impossible.
A healthy obsession will not tolerate negative influences. You have every right to be obsessed with what you know will make you happy. Who else is going to make you happy, if you don't care enough to try?
Learn to keep any goal that you have uppermost in your mind. Cultivate the habit of seeking those surroundings, those people, and those interests and pursuits that will ENHANCE and ADD TO your central goals in life.
Read books on lifting. Make it a part of you. Learn all that you can learn about it. Think about that image you have visualized, and about how much closer you're coming to the achievement of your purpose.
Go After Knowledge That Shows You How to Achieve Your Goal
Whenever you want to accomplish ANYTHING, do your best to go after the finest available sources of information about that endeavor. STUDY your subject, and study what those who have contributed the most, now and in the past, to that subject have to say. Don't ask your buddy, or consult with some guy where you work who "knows someone who did this." Find authors and instructors who recognize where their ideas came from and are only too happy to tell you who they learned from.
Make it your business to keep abreast of the latest developments in our field, but never neglect the knowledge handed down from earlier sources.
Developing the body is as much a process of education as is developing the mind. Would you attempt to educate your mind by reading comic books? Well, don't expect to educate your body by referring to information that is little more than a comic book. Search out good courses of instruction, contemporary as well as previous. Seek valid, to the point, easy to understand information.
Read books on anatomy. Learn more about nutrition. In short, make your goal of physical development a consuming interest. Constantly seek to learn more and more and still more about the Iron Game, its history, all its facets. Physical training can be a lifelong, rewarding hobby, if you'll begin to appreciate all that it entails. There is, you will find, more to learn than there is to do in the field of weight training. The amount of physical training your body can handle will take less of your time than your study of HOW to train. Experiment with many different approaches over the length of your lifting life. You can study profitably for many more hours a week than you can physically train.
Ask questions of those persons in the Iron Game whose opinions you respect. But apply the answers and don't simply fire out a mass of questions the man has already answered repeatedly in his own writings.
Apply What You Learn
Let's face it . . . no matter how much you learn about lifting none of it but what works for YOU is important to YOU. After developing a solid foundation with the basics, EXPERIMENT with what you have studied. BE PATIENT and give each new idea enough time. Don't just do more routines, endlessly program hopping to nowhere. Do each routine BETTER, and give it an honest try for a long enough time to find if it works for YOU. Remember that knowledge is valid in any endeavor, but the actual progress comes from THE APPLICATION of that knowledge over time. You will soon realize that it's very tempting to switch programs when the going gets tough. DON'T! You'll be missing the most important part of your journey, for the hardest sections are the most productive.
Never Give Up!
Every individual must, and has the right to, select those values and goals for which he will live. If you give up on any goal that you still honestly want to attain, then you are paving the way for your own failure, unhappiness and defeat.
True - other people, especially when you are young and/or inexperienced, can affect you adversely and dishearten you. But you are the final judge, the ultimate ruler of your life. Even when others affect you, it is only because you permit yourself to take their insane negative evaluations of you seriously.
Giving up is something that cannot be considered when you truly want to achieve ANY goal. To reach your goal will take a long time and a lot of hard work. You must be ready to GIVE BEFORE YOU GET. You will experience all manner of obstacles along the way - but if you truly want to achieve that goal you'll continue on when things look blackest. And you will get closer to your goal.
The burning, driving, fierce determination to drive on is not something you can buy or have instilled in you by someone else. It is all up to you, and once you realize the beauty and freedom in that your life will be much different from what you have been led to believe.
Of course you must teach yourself to accept temporary setbacks, illness, loss of certain friendships, difficult employment situations, perhaps occasional relationship discord, and MORE, as undesirable things will happen and must be dealt with. Anyone who tells you they never have setbacks is lying to your face. You will fall at times, you will temporarily fail. It is up to you whether you rise again enough times to succeed.
Now get to it!