Mental Muscle Pointers - Concentration Tips for Workouts

Mental Attitude Muscle

Success if 50% Muscle & 50% Mental Strength

fitFLEX Articles - Learn, Share and Discover

I have heard and read that having the right mental attitude is as important as pumping the heavy iron for muscle gains and strength. At least this seems to be what people are saying today. I know you're an old guy (over 60) who competed years ago. Did you and the bodybuilding coaches who trained you place much value on the right mental attitude? I ask because the photo of you on the home page of your Web site and your best lifetime lifts don't show me that having the supposed right mental attitude helped you all that much.

All the champion bodybuilders back in my day would - to a man - tell you having the right mental attitude is perhaps the most important factor in achieving massive muscles and strength. They'd say everything else is secondary. In my own case for example, without that mental attitude I could never have performed 10 reps with 500 pounds in the conventional deadlift or 20 reps in the barbell back squat with 405 pounds (all at a bodyweight of under 212 pounds, no wraps, suits or lifting straps and no specific warmup for the exercises whatsoever). One of my bodybuilding mentors, 1968 IFBB Mr. World Chuck Sipes, taught me the key elements to achieving a proper mental attitude. Here is what he told me.

"In training for strength, deep concentration is necessary to get the best results. As you progress, the poundages you will be lifting will require much of your physical energy and just as much effort from your mental attitude.

"Training methods focus entirely on getting results. When you train you want to apply every bit of concentration you can muster to the application of the energy and effort needed for the exercises. You want to feel every muscle fiber, tendon and ligament swell and flex through every inch of the movement.

"The use of concentration when exercising sounds simple enough. You might think paying attention to what you are doing is all that is required, but you'd be wrong. You have to link your mind to } the weight as well as your muscles. Your i thoughts must guide every physical movement. As your strength increases, you have to feel it. There must be a deep sense of involvement between the physical and mental parts of your body. 'If you think big, so you shall be.'

"When you have a training session you don't want to be interrupted. You must keep your concentration or you will lose everything you've built up to. I feel deep concentration will enable you to do much more than you could if you just went about your training with other matters on your mind. Teach yourself to concentrate.

"Pick up the weight and forget everything else. Try this approach the next time you work out, and I'll bet you will be able to go through your exercises faster and much more easily. No doubt you will also be able to increase the poundages you use.

"When you are through let your mind relax. Talk of other activities and put all thoughts of training aside until your next workout. Much of your effort has been channeled through your body mentally and your mind needs a rest, just as your body does. You can lose interest in any activity if you overdo it. Now's the time to enjoy other interests. Your life will become fuller with this attitude, and you will be able to approach your training sessions with more enthusiasm each time."


Here are some techniques that will aid you in your efforts to maintain good concentration during your training sessions:

1. Plan your workout so that you can avoid most, if not all, interruptions.

2. Avoid making excuses to miss any workout. Commit to the workout and then act on your commitment.

3. Set yourself a goal for each session.

4. Keep your mind focused on your training as much as you can.

5. Don't let your thoughts wander off to other topics. Focus on form.

6. Rest completely between sets to replenish ATP stores (but limit the time).

7. While you're resting between sets, mentally rehearse the next set, trying to feel it in the working muscles.

8. Pick a training partner who thinks as you do about the importance of training.

9. Always be pleasant to others, but emphasize that you are there to train and nothing must interfere with your goals.

Related Articles