What motivates you during a workout? Not before—not “Oh, my god, I’m so excited to go to the gym right now.” I’m talking about when you’re standing just outside of the power rack. You’re about to get under a bar stacked with 45s that could staple you to the ground in less than a second. What do you think of?
Suddenly all the rules change. That little scare your doctor gave you about what could happen if you don’t exercise isn’t enough to make it happen. It’s no match for the big scare of being crushed if you don’t crush it first. You need something more powerful and direct to turn your flame into a raging fire.
Look at a video of pretty much any record-setting squat or bench press, and you’ll see the lifter camping out for at least 15 seconds or so, and sometimes far longer, as they prepare themselves to make this transformation. And that’s in an ideal scenario, with a crowd watching and urging them on, and a long-awaited triumph in their crosshairs.
In training it’s different. No one is watching, except for maybe a slightly nervous spotter or workout partner. It’s all on you. And if you want to make it through this set and eventually lift something even heavier, you’ll need more than just good form and a good pre-workout to make it happen.
Arnold famously saw his biceps as mountains, and pictured himself lifting tremendous amounts of weight with those “superhuman masses of muscle.” But what often gets overlooked in that anecdote is why he favored this type of image, it was all about losing himself.
I’ve been in this position many, many times over the course of my training, and I’ve learned what puts me in the max-strength headspace. Mountains aren’t enough for me; I need true rage.
Make it more personal. Imagine a situation where everything you hold dear is on the line. Picture someone holding a gun to your head. You don’t have a choice; you simply must pump out those extra reps in order for this nightmare to end.
After the set, picture yourself kicking the crap out of that guy. I promise you, if you let yourself go to dark places like this, you will be rewarded for your efforts.
GET BIG ON THE BIG SCREEN
Intense visualization isn’t for everyone. And even the most imaginative of us need to mix things up, so we don’t get too far out there. Enter videos.
If you’re partial to fight imagery, like I am, something more brutal might be necessary before you head out to the weight room. I love the scene from “Immortals” where Theseus leads his army into battle and runs full speed at the enemy. This one’s good if you have a lot of reps ahead of you.
A max-strength day? The first fight scene in Troy is great before a big weight. A terrifying opponent falls, and there’s never a doubt who will prevail.
NEW CLASSICS OF MOTIVATION
Part of Rocky’s charm, of course, is that when the movie came out, he stood alone. Today, countless online videos are made specifically to help you—or at least the person in the video—train harder.
Looking for an extra inch on your arms? Then command your biceps to grow like YouTube sensation CT Fletcher does.
Everyone has their own trigger; the trick is finding it.
Aspire to Inspire.