In many aspects, physique sports are different than any other sport. Unlike other sports in which “game day” is the pinnacle of performance and the sole event in the spotlight of fans, physique sports require you to display dedication to your end goal daily. In the majority of sports, an athlete is able to mentally relax outside of watching eyes following an intense practice, come from behind win or even the even more mentally draining last minute loss.
For those of you involved in the social media era, you can often see top athletes like Lebron James or Kobe Bryant posting pictures taking their teammates out or enjoying a nice meal with their families after such an event. This alone can really rejuvenate the athlete, being able to let go of the event that just took place and relax. Bodybuilding on the other hand is not like that– those who chose to pursue this sport cannot just take that break following a hard training session. The moment the session is over you are focused on re-fueling and rebuilding for the following one. I believe to be truly successful in this sport you do have to find a way to both mentally and physically relax, and achieve the same balance that top athletes in other sports have. This does not mean that you do not need to be dedicated to your craft, because bodybuilding truly is a sport that requires a different amount of day in and day out dedication. Success leaves clues, and the clues being left by elite athletes are that they give everything they have to their craft, but within that are also able to dichotomize intensity and downtime—they are able to mentally rest and allow both their minds and bodies a chance to regenerate.
Bodybuilding from a mental aspect can become very draining. Not only are you taxing your nervous system during training on a daily basis, but the non-stop grind of training and meal prep can also be mentally demanding. However, it’s apparent that these things cannot stop because it is exactly what is needed to be successful, but within that I think we can work on some simple suggestions to bring some mental rest to the sport that we love. As athletes, the goals we have set upon ourselves, the daily training and eating, can easily—without notice–cause us to become subjugated to extreme self-induced pressure. Physique sports are unique in that the length of time it takes for real and significant progress to accumulate is greater than most others, and adding the daily stress on top of the desire to be constantly improving can quickly burn the candle at both ends, eventually turning a sport in which you once loved into one that is nothing more than a mind sucking chore.
Over analyzing your progression on a daily basis, trying to make every training and nutrition variable as perfect as it can be day in a day out can quickly lead to burn out, an event that I have witnessed countless times. As a coach, my word of advice on this is that we can only do so much. Do what you know is right and outside of that give yourself a chance to mentally let the mind rest. When it’s time to train, train and give it every ounce of energy you have. When it’s time to eat, fuel yourself properly, but outside of that let your mind be clear and keep the things that you cannot control wanting. Save your mental energy for when it matters most—training. You need to be focused on your goals and attaining them, but thinking about your training sessions all day long prior to even getting into the gym is doing nothing but mentally exhausting you before you even allow your body to perform. When its time to train and eat do so with everything you have in regards to your goals, but outside of that let your mind truly rest. If done adequately, you will be able to sit back and watch the progression that takes place—in both your physique and mental state– in the absence of unneeded, self-induced stress.
Twitter and Instagram: @INOV8ElitePerformance
Matt Jansen –
B.S. Exercise Science
Strength and Physique Contest Prep Coach
Nick Tong –
AFPA Certified Wellness and Nutrition Consultant
Strength and Physique Contest Prep Coach