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Every champion, or future champion, derives satisfaction from the masochistic ritual we call pain zone training. There's a certain look in the eye of a champion that says, "I crave greatness
and can stand any amount of torture to reach my goals."
Some call this "eye of the tiger," but it's more than just a form of killer instinct; it's a mindset that encompasses someone's entire state of being and blossoms in the field of battle. For the bodybuilder that battlefield is the gym.
If you've ever watched a Lee Labrada or a Mike Christian train for a contest, you've seen this attitude firsthand. Once one of these champions gets warmed up, the workout becomes an act of survival. This "all-or-nothing" approach fuels his focus, and he allows nothing to stand in his way. If someone is using the piece of equipment he needs, he adapts immediately by performing a similar exercise. If someone wants to talk, he counters with a polite smile and a "Sorry-I-gotta-keep-training." Nothing can-and nothing will-spoil the mood.
This focused mentality is hard to achieve for many of us. Sure, we reach that trancelike state every so often, where the heavy weights seem to float through their specific ranges of motion, but it takes more than an every-so-often occurrence of this mental magic to reach superstardom. The secret to greatness is consistency-this mental attitude must rule the majority of your workouts. Until you can get mental at will, the heights you are capable of achieving will be out of your grasp. True, the weights will not always have that light-as-a-feather feeling, but the extreme concentration and focus should be there 98 percent of the time.
Obviously, some people never learn to get mental. Maybe that's why there are so few champions. If the secret was something more tangible, like steroids, some type of magic workout or a special power-packed elixir, the superstar breed wouldn't be such a rare one. The world would be overflowing with Arnold Schwarzeneggers. The mind is undoubtedly the wildest of beasts, and it takes more work to tame it than most are willing to expend.
There are those who dare to develop the ability to corral the power of the mind, however. Watch Lee Haney grind out the last few reps of incline presses when the Olympia is four weeks away, or notice the look in Mike Tyson's eyes when he throws a powerful right hook in a championship bout. That's killer instinct, obsession and survival with loads of intense concentration thrown in for good-no, make that great-measure. And let's not forget self-confidence.
Muhammad Ali once said, "To be the world champion, you have to believe you're the best. If not, pretend." Maybe that's one of the secrets: imagination. If you pretend often enough, soon it becomes ingrained in your subconscious, and your mind begins to believe that you are a rousing success. Make a pact with yourself here and now: With your very next workout you will start getting mental in the gym and begin to develop your concentration to new levels. It's absolutely the biggest step you'll ever take toward attaining your goals of super-success.