The Overcorrection Syndrome - Building the Perfect Physique

The Perfect Physique

Self-Perception is a Powerful Tool

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Very few of us step into the world with aperfect physique. Most people have one or more areas that lag behind the rest. Those who were born with less often crave one of those rare but terrific physiques some men are naturally endowed with. Yet frequently owners of a fantastic body take it for granted and never improve upon their God-given gift.

Having less natural potential can be a motivational factor. The problem becomes a blessing in disguise. Their desire to overcome the weak area prompts many to find a way to get better. And in the process they discover bodybuilding - a logical progression since bodybuilding is the premier body-changing activity known to mankind. Unfortunately some people do not explore all the possible options. If they did, they might learn that almost anything is possible through iron and an iron will.


Body type - either thin or fat - is a frequent drawback. Most people fall into one of the two camps. They may get labeled as "skinny" or "fatso" or any of a multitude of nasty nicknames predicated upon body type. This stereotyping usually occurs early in life before a youngster has a chance to get his bearings. During those formative years kids can be cruel to one another.

Victims of physique-oriented name-calling may carry the stigma for life. Others grow up seeking to change their body, and those early years fuel their commitment. And many do change. You attend a class reunion after 20 years and don't even recognize some of your former classmates because they have altered so drastically.

However, even as adults change their physique they still tend to see themselves in the way they were labeled as children. Unkind comment about one's physical appearance is especially devastating when it comes from a family member or parent. People who struggle with anorexia and bulimia are extreme examples of this syndrome. No matter how thin they get, they still see themselves as overweight. Their perception of themselves overshadows reality.

This faulty self-image can happen in body-building as well. A bodybuilder who grows up as a skinny kid spends the rest of his life chasing the elusive bulk in attempt to get big. No matter how much mass he builds, it isn't enough. Or vice versa. A heavy kid gets into bodybuilding and exhausts himself on an endless pursuit of the lean physique. This passion is fine, but only to a certain degree. If it goes too far, overcorrection occurs. It is much like driving a car which has veered too far to the left. You adjust by turning the steering wheel hard to the right. You can't leave it there, though, or you go too far the other way.

The same is true for physique. Even Arnold had to deal with overcorrection. In Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder he says, "I trimmed down from 250 pounds to 230, which was a mind-blower for me. I had to reprogram my thinking." You need to realign a body that is too thin or too heavy, but you must be wary or pursuing that goal too long. Pushed too far, any training approach can become extreme. The results are hard for the individual to notice, although others may see the problem. This is a case where training extremists can't see the forest for the trees. They are determined to eradicate their skinny or fat image no matter how hard they must work. In the process they lose many of the natural lines of their physique if they started thin, or the potential for fullness if they were predisposed to bigness. Then the quest becomes a curse.

If you are new to the iron game (one to five years) you probably won't have a problem with the overcorrection syndrome. You are busily making progress toward mass (if you began thin) or stripping fat off while adding muscle (if you began overweight). The difficulty comes several years into the program when you should be readjusting your training for maximum potential utilization but are still concerned about your earlier label. You can beat this problem with the help of honest friends and a few good bodybuilding books or magazines.

Proverbs, a book of wisdom in the Bible, states over and over that a wise man is open to advice and seeks counsel. To get a good perspective on your physique, seek out a friend's advice. Don't just ask a couple of buddies in the gym. Most women have a sixth sense about symmetry, so get the advice from a few friends of the opposite sex also. Be frank with yourself. Have you attained enough mass? Have you stripped away enough fat?

Take a deep look at your goals and motivation. Do they match? Are you motivated to gain mass, yet have a goal for a contest appearance? The two objectives don't always go hand in hand. For successful bodybuilding you need harmony between competition and personal improvement.

A mirror and a tape measure are a good combo for beating the overcorrection syndrome. They don't lie. Perhaps you do have enough mass, or are as lean as you need to be. The mirror reveals reality.

Take stock of where you stand and make an authentic appraisal of your physique. Look deeply at your inner motivations and make certain you are not falling into the overcorrection syndrome. Strive for balance, not excess.





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