"The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent." - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger noted the importance of confidence and mind-set in bodybuilding, and it is this positive mind-set and confidence which have helped to revolutionise my training and given me gains, which at the start of my bodybuilding, I believed to be unattainable.
Looking back at my training, I believe the point where I really began to train more seriously was when I believed I actually could. As cheesy and cliché as it may sound, it is amazing how many people, me included, don't believe in their own ability to increase the number of reps in a set, or the weight, even though they are perfectly cable of dong so – and I found I wasn't growing because I wasn't pushing myself those extra few reps, or those extra few kilograms.
Confidence is important in most sports, but in particular confidence plays a huge role in bodybuilding. When I first started lifting weights, I fell foul of the same stereotype I set out to prove wrong; I didn't believe I was strong enough to increase a weight, and I was scared of failing. This lack of self-belief really hindered my growth and training, and I found that I was never leaving my comfort zone, and I was losing intensity. Over the years, however, as my confidence grew, I began to believe in myself more and more – toe-in-toe with that, I found myself pushing on and training with weights and rep-ranges that were actually working the body, and I then began to see noticeable gains, and the importance of this positive mind-set.
It is clear that you can't gain confidence with a flick of the switch, but finding the right mix of mental strength and confidence can see amazing increases in gains and transformations. There are a few ways to develop this, for example, the use of a spotter or a training partner offers 'security', so to speak, when pushing on to heavier weights, or if that is not available to you, a technique which I have found to work extremely well is trying to increase your 1 rep max as often as you can at the end of an exercise, for example with deadlifts, even by just 2.5kg or 5kg – in doing so, I am able to physically see improvements, which is a nice feeling to accompany the usual pain and fatigue! Yes, there will be times when you won't be able to increase a rep range, or a weight, but if you keep pushing yourself, and keep believing that you will be able to, then the chances are you will.