I am a bodybuilder! Every time I utter that statement to somebody, I feel like it is the first day of a 12-step recovery program. Yes, my size is a slight hint of my physical pursuits, but people are still surprised by the words! The average person wonders why I would punish myself in the gym, adhere to a strict diet, and wake up every morning with my muscles on fire! Hey, I wonder why people compete in triathalons or bungee cord off of bridges! At least we are all able to channel our passions in different ways!
At my prime, I have had an upper arm measurement of 18 inches. Take a tape measure, form a loop at the 18-inch mark, flex your bicep, and pull the tape measure over it. That will give you a rough estimate of the size of my “guns!” I am not asking you to do this out of sheer ego, make you feel bad about your level of muscularity, or any other self-serving purpose. Instead, I want you to feel that I am a credible authority on muscle-building!
Walk into any gym and you will witness pretty much the same thing. Men are obsessed with the size of their upper arms. Ask a man to show you his muscles. Does he roll up his pant legs and flash you with his fully pumped calves? Does he turn around and spread his lats into a canvas of knotted muscle? No, virtually every male will flex his bicep for you!
My size tends to draw attention and invariably some neophyte bodybuilder will decide to indirectly show me what he is made of. He will load up a barbell with an excessive amount of weight, struggle to lift it off the floor, and begin banging out a series of curls. I always watch in amusement as he sloppily brings the weight up under his chin. The entire time he is moving as quickly as possible, swinging his hips and shoulders wildly to keep the weight moving. I find myself wincing at the thought of his throbbing elbow joints and painful tendons many years from now!
Now it is my turn! I load up less weight than the newbie I just described. I space my feet evenly at shoulder width, lock my elbows into my sides, take a deep breath, and get to work. Each repetition is deliberately slow, taking two seconds to bring the weight up and four seconds to lower it. I always use a weight that permits me to only complete between eight and twelve reps. I maintain absolute form, exhale as the weight rise, inhale as the weight lowers, and I stay in complete control.
My biceps immediately swell up and I move onto another body part. In the meantime, the new guy gasps and goes back to what he was doing previously. He is convinced that by using more weight and performing more sets, he will get to my level of development! Alas, we are all victims of our preconceived notions!
What if we were able to exercise our minds in the manner I just described? I subscribe to the theory that absolute form yields absolute results. How many times do we wrestle with multiple problems that seem ridiculously heavy? How often do we thrash ourselves around wildly trying to lift that mental weight. We even try to fight the problem by attacking it over and over again, much like the senseless number of reps in the gym?
Now, if we maintain absolute form, use a moderate amount of weight, and maximize the intensity of the exercise; the mental situation we are facing is less heavy. When I am working out, my sole focus is on the isolated muscle that I am working. You could drop a pair of 45-pound plates behind me and I would not notice. Can we bring that kind of focus to our mental process? Perhaps it is time to change how we exercise our minds!
The next time you are facing a problem, take a deep breath. Achieve critical focus on what you are trying to solve. Slowly and deliberately begin to work through the problem. When you reach that final rep, which will be an answer; simply let go of the problem. It is now time to move onto a set of exercises for another problem. So let’s load up that barbell and get to work! Not to worry, I am happy to be your spotter!