- 1 Keep your head out of the way and build muscle
- 2 Keeping your mind from working against you is one thing, how do you make it an asset?
In part one of this article, the four major factors of success in the weight gain plan were discussed.
While those major factors dealt more with those things that will physically help you gain weight, the factors covered on this page deal more with keeping your mind on your goals.
If the mind wanders, the body will soon follow.
All it takes is a little self-doubt to creep in and your solid weight gain plan suddenly derails. You lose your mental focus, start changing things around and watch hopelessly as the once promising program starts doing everything but putting muscle on you.
By having a clear concept of what you are doing and where it is taking you, by knowing what to expect and what not to expect, you will be less likely to be distracted from accomplishing your goals of gaining weight.
Keeping an eye on the following four factors will help your weight gain plan succeed.
Keep your head out of the way and build muscle
1. Do not multi-task your goals.
If your goals are to put on 20 lbs. of muscle while simultaneously training to run a marathon, you are destined to fail in both pursuits. These are conflicting goals. The training regimen for each would be polar opposites of one another, combining them would not be a rational course to take.
A common mistake people make is trying to incorporate all their goals into one training plan. In the end they get frustrated as none of their goals get accomplished.
We all want big muscle and rock hard abs. The most effective way to achieve these goals is to concentrate on one thing at a time. First, do your weight gain plan and build the muscle (or, if your main challenge is fat loss, first do a cutting program – see the body fat percentages page for help deciding where you need to start).
If you are splitting your training focus between trying to gain muscle mass and trying to decrease your body fat levels, you are sabotaging your body’s ability to produce significant results on either front. To gain muscle your body requires a caloric surplus – it needs extra raw materials with which to build muscle. To lose fat the body requires a caloric deficit – it needs to have a reason to seek the stored energy contained in fat tissue.
Contrary to many myths, the body can’t turn fat into muscle, it won’t burn fat to get the energy it needs to build muscle.
It is possible to make progress by trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but the gains will be unnecessarily slow and they will become progressively slower as you go along. The muscle gains will come when your body is a anabolic mode (building tissue with a caloric surplus) and the fat loss when your body is in a catabolic mode (breaking down tissue with a caloric deficit). They won’t occur simultaneously. Asking the body to shift back and forth between these modes every day AND produce significant results is asking a lot.
If significant change is what you are after, a much wiser course is to do as bodybuilders have learned to do: Put 100% of your focus on either fat loss (cutting) or muscle gain (bulking). Shift back and forth between phases.
For example, spend 10 weeks focused on your weight gain plan. This requires you to eat big in order to produce a caloric surplus and limit cardio so you do not burn up too much energy. Along with the muscle gains you receive in this training phase you will likely receive some unwanted fat gains. You will temporarily move further away from your body fat goals.
Follow this phase up with 5 weeks of total focus on fat loss. This means you decrease your calories to just below maintenance levels and increase cardio to burn fat. Along with the fat losses this phase will produce, you will likely experience some muscle loss…
BUT the net gains you receive with this training approach will be much greater than an approach which attempts to multi-task all your goals. They can be dramatically better.
2. Plan a weight gain program that is realistic.
Don’t put things in your weight gain plan that are going to be impossible for you to follow.
For example, if you hate tuna, don’t try and eat it every day. Tuna is a great food for muscle building (lots of protein) but if it doesn’t appeal to your palate, you simply won’t eat it every day. And when the day comes that you can’t even digest the thought of another tuna sandwich, thoughts of just chucking your whole weight gain plan because you just don’t have what it takes may just take root in your head.
You don’t have to have and follow the perfect weight gain plan to gain weight fast, you just need to do most of the right things most of the time.
In other words, don’t set yourself up for failure from the start. Realize that you are going to break with your diet on occasion, realize that you are going to miss a workout every once in a while. That’s okay. Just pick yourself up the next day… or the next Monday after that wild weekend.
3. Plan for ten or twelve weeks, not a lifetime.
Don’t map out the rest of your life just yet. Instead set your goal on the next ten or twelve weeks.
Promise yourself to stick to your weight gain plan for that amount of time and see what comes of it. Changing your habits, from the things you eat to making time for your workouts, can seem a daunting task when you first start out.
That dreaded part of your mind that produces self-doubt will have an easier time selling you on the idea that you can’t keep this up forever than it will convincing you that you can’t do it for ten weeks.
You can do anything for ten weeks. And when you stick to it for those ten weeks you will have the amazing results that will forever silence that self-doubt.
4. Don’t become a Program Hopper.
No matter what program you follow, you’ll find someone to tell you that what you are doing is completely wrong, insane and goofy. Or you will find yourself being wooed by the new product from the nutrition company, the late-night infomercials, or the new routine from the genetically gifted hulk.
These things can derail your weight gain plan by making you wonder if there isn’t a better way. Don’t be wooed.
Start with and stick with a sound philosophy. That is where you will get the big gains. Thousands and thousands of people have successfully changed their bodies with fitness programs but I am yet to find one that did so by switching their entire plan every week.
Keep your list of influences short when beginning your weight gain program. Too much information can be overwhelming and cause paralysis by analysis. What is that saying? Keep It Simple Stupid.
If you aren’t getting the results you want, first try small changes to your weight gain plan. You may not be gaining because you aren’t getting enough sleep or because you are not performing the exercises correctly or because any number of things.
Now, there will come a point when you may need to dramatically change your approach, but that time is a ways off, so for now…
Enjoy the Journey
Keeping your mind from working against you is one thing, how do you make it an asset?
There are many techniques that can be successfully implemented to help you towards your physique-changing goals. Positive attitude, visualization and focus are traits that can be learned and can be as important to your weight gain plan as any workout or diet.
To learn more about using your brain to build muscle, check out Mental Bodybuilding Techniques.