WHY SHOULD BODYBUILDERS KNOW ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY?
The greatest bodybuilders of our time consistently testify to one thing: most of their performance takes place in their mind. You train physically, but if most of what it takes to excel is mental, how do you train mentally?
Bodybuilders are competitive, performance-driven individuals. And where there is performance, there is the potential for improved performance. Improving anything involves breaking down your current game plan and re-building it with new perspectives, greater focus, different strategies and renewed motivation.
To improve performance (train harder, prepare better, compete more successfully) you must understand how your thoughts drive your behavior.
To understand this relationship, you need a grasp of basic psychology.
Nobody wants to feel stagnant or stuck in their situation. The desire for personal growth and change can be a great motivator.
Your motivation to change can be related to fitness. You no longer want to be sedentary, overweight, or too thin. You want to change your lifestyle, feel better about yourself, and discover a new identity. If you’re ready to change who you are, start identifying yourself as what you want to be: a cyclist, a runner, a bodybuilder, or a dancer. Tell people that’s who you are. From there, your new self-identification becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You turn into what you want to be!
Another great way to use growth motivation is to look at your workout as a break, a time to focus on yourself without any work or kids to interrupt you. Personal time is so important for your own well-being. Thinking of your workout as personal, and therefore as a way to improve yourself will help you stick to your workouts.
BODYBUILDERS ARE MADE IN THE SCHOOL PLAYGROUND
Bodybuilders are not made in power gyms and fitness centres. The psychological make-up of many bodybuilders is formed at an early age, in the school playground, psychologists at Warwick Medical School in England discovered.
The psychological tests and statistical analysis that they did showed that insatiable desire for more muscle bulk is the result of bullying. According to the psychologists, not all but many bodybuilders suffer from a syndrome referred to in the textbooks as muscle dysmorphia: they may look physically impressive, but nevertheless have the feeling that they are not big enough or that they are too fat.
They look better than 99 percent of their age mates, but they are still ashamed of their body. It’s perhaps therefore not surprising that studies find a relationship between muscle dysmorphia on the one hand and steroid use, health complaints and heavy training programmes on the other.
The psychologists at Warwick looked for a relationship between bullying and muscle dysmorphia. In the book Little Big Men by the anthropologist Alan Klein, bodybuilders recount how they were bullied as a child and how they started weight training to overcome their feelings of inferiority. The psychologists asked one hundred male bodybuilders to complete a questionnaire on bullying and used specific lists to determine whether they suffered from muscle dysmorphia [MDI] – and psychological disorders as a result of being bullied. This is referred to as global psychopathology in the graph below, which summarizes the psychologists’ findings. The disorders include depression, compulsive obsession and anxiety.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE MENTALITY OF A CHAMPION?
A champion knows what has to be done and does it, and anyone else wants to do the work but doesn’t fully commit.
The mentality of a champion is someone who is never satisfied, because you can never be if you want to be great. Even when you achieve greatness, it doesn’t stop there. Being a legend is next. Any true champion (sports, business or any other kind of champion) has no end in sight. As a champion, I believe you challenge yourself every day, until your last breath.
If you look through their answers you will find some differences, but what is fascinating is that even with their difference in experience, their mindsets are more alike than different. Could this be coincidence or could these similarities be part of the formula that makes a champion? Perhaps it is a change of thinking that may propel us to the next level.