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9 Ways to Maintain Your Mental Toughness for More Muscle Gain


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Muscle Motivation

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Feeling your motivation slipping away at times? Going the distance for a bigger, stronger, more muscular physique is never an easy journey. Getting in the right frame of mind is imperitive to achieve optimal gains, which is why we sought out the advice from top trainers, coaches, athletes, and gym owners from across the nation to keep you on track towards conquering your fitness goals. 

SEE ALSO: 5 Mental Tricks for Better Workout Results

Here’s what they had to say about establishing a mental toughness to propel you to the finish line. Follow their lead to get the most out of each intense and grueling workout. 

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Change Your Mindset

As soon as I’m done with my workout I tell myself, “you didn’t have to do that,” says strength and conditioning coach, Jason Glass. Just this morning I woke up at 6 AM and I did not feel like working out. I was tired from travel and just not into it. But like a lot of people fail to do, I sucked it up and got my run in. After I was done I said to myself, “you didn’t have to do that.”

“I hear people every day say “I have to go workout,” like it’s a bad thing they are forced to do. Nobody’s forcing you to do this. Change your mindset! When you workout you’re doing something purely for you. This mindset empowers me to to wake up early and get that workout in or push past that last grueling set. Everything I do in my workout benefits me, says Glass.”

SEE ALSO: The Right Mindset for Optimal Performance

Jason Glass is one of the world’s top strength and conditioning coaches focusing on rotational power. Jason trains and consults for athletes and teams from the PGA Tour, NFL, and NHL. He is an international lecturer and presenter on the topic of human performance and athletic development. Jason is the host of the Coach Glass Podcast, which you can download from iTunes.


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Focus and Nail It!

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“When I am going through a tough workout there are 2 times when I have to inspire myself to work through it,” says athletic movement specialist, Lee Taft. “The first time is before the workout begins. I know why I am doing the workout and how it will benefit my body in the short and long term. This conversation is done well in advance and is what keeps me training day to day. The second conversation is during the “sticky” parts of the workout when it hurts. I have always been good at making myself focus on the technique and how I am performing the exercise in the moment. This takes my mind off the discomfort, at least for a little bit, and allows me to get through it. So what I say during these times is Focus or Nail it. This keeps me on track so I do the exercise well and don’t just agonize over the workout.”

SEE ALSO: The Rock Delivers a Lesson on Focus

Lee Taft is highly respected as one of the top athletic movement specialists in the world. Since 1989, Lee has taught foundation movement to beginning youngsters and helped young amateur athletes to professional athletes become quicker, faster and stronger. For more info go to LeeTaft.com.


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Trick Your Mind

“I have this weird mental trick and flash back to when I was a college athlete,” says fitness coach, Frank Nash. “I picture my team in front of me cheering me on and depending on me. If I don’t get that one or 2 more reps I let them down. To me, letting your team down is one of the worst things in the world! I put that pressure on me and it makes me get those 1 or 2 more reps. That competitive nature of being there for my friends is what pushes me. It’s you them and one more rep.”

SEE ALSO: Dr. Sacks: Mind Over Muscle

Frank Nash is one of the most in-demand and exciting coaches, writers and presenters in the fitness industry today. Frank is the owner of Frank Nash Training Systems in Worcester, MA and is a best selling author and international speaker/personality on a variety of health and fitness related topics.


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Remind Yourself How Fortunate You Are

bodybuilder barbell

“When pushing through a tough workout I try to remember that I am “gifting” myself with better health, movement quality and of course an improved physique,” says Rick Mayo. “Instead of viewing workouts as something that I have to do, I try to remind myself that training hard is something that I get to do. When the going get’s tough, I simply remind myself that I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to perform this challenging workout. So, suck it up buttercup, and do the work!”

SEE ALSO: Inspired to Get Ripped

Rick Mayo is the owner of one of America’s most profitable gyms per square foot—North Point Fitness. He is also the owner of Alloy Personal Training Systems. Rick helps thousands of fitness facilities across America.


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Focus on the Three W’s

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“I need WILL to succeed; this extra rep is merely a test. If I want to WIN, I can’t give up. My WHY is what turns that negative voice inside my head that would tell me to give up into a positive one that keeps me going,” says strength and conditioning coach, John Annillo. “Thinking of where you want to be is the easy part. Realizing that it’s that last rep, extra lap, or next workout that will get you there is the hard part.”

“One of the reasons some people are successful and others are not can simply come down to the number of negative vs. positive thoughts that they have throughout the day, Annillo states. “This only gets more pronounced when you’re in the gym and have 300 lbs. over your chest; either you’ll pump yourself up enough to push it or you’ll attempt it haphazardly. If you can’t push through these tough times during your workouts, you’ll never be able to push through the tough times in life.”

John Annillo has worked everywhere from the corporate gym in NYC to the Strength and Conditioning Department at Ohio State University. He’s a partner in Beautiful Bodies Boot Camp in New Jersey, developed a couple of iOS apps, and serves as a consultant for fitness companies through Gym Autopilot.


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Remember Your Longterm Goals

triceps pressdown

“When a workout gets really tough, it’s essential to look at your long-term goals,” says strength and conditioning coach Wil Fleming. “This can either push me to hit bigger numbers, or it can serve to make me throttle it back in case I might just not have it that day. For me, if it is a competition next year, I know I have to push myself for it, but I also can’t wreck myself and risk losing the opportunity to train the next day or next week. Long-term goals are the measuring stick for me when it gets really tough.”

Wil Fleming is the co-owner of Force Fitness and Performance, in Bloomington, Indiana which is one of the most successful training facilities in the Midwest. Wil is a national level Olympic weightlifter and the coach of dozens of successful weightlifters ages eleven through forty.


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Remember Why You Started

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“Tough workouts are not only about completing a hard workout full of heavy weight and lots of sets and reps,” says strength and conditioning coach, Justin Grinnell. “Sometimes the tough part is even getting into the mindset of completing a solid workout. Some days you are on and feel like moving a ton of weight and some days seem to be more complicated. Work, school, stress or whatever may be getting in the way. But I am a firm believer that we all can make time to commit to your workout. So I constantly remind myself about all of the reasons why I even need to start this workout. It simply will make me a better person for my family, others and myself.”

Justin Grinnell is the owner of one of the leading training facilities in the Midwest, State of Fitness Gym in Okemos, MI.  He also runs a Corporate Wellness Training Center in East Lansing, MI. Justin is a featured writer in various fitness themed magazines and websites, including Muscle & Fitness.


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Keep It Positive. Break It Down.

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“I focus on positive self talk, says Billy Burghardt, assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Michigan State University football and wrestling teams. “I break up the reps mentally into smaller chunks so 15 reps becomes 3 sets of 5. Then if it’s really excruciating, I imagine someone in my family depending on me to get that next rep.”

Billy Burghardt is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Currently, Billy is the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Michigan State University football and wrestling Teams.


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There’s Always Someone Trying to Outwork You

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“I force myself to go into a mindset that somebody is right next to me doing the same workout and he’s outworking me,” says training coach, Ben Boudro. “I think of somebody who is exactly my age with the same build and same everything. I think of that person out there trying to get the same thing I’m after and It drives me nuts. It forces me to get that last rep or finish that run faster. Another thing I do is picture my family watching me. My son Hudson is watching, my wife is watching or my brothers are on the sidelines cheering me on. Don’t ask me why, but it works and it pushes me way outside of my comfort zone every workout.

Ben Boudro is the owner of Xceleration Fitness in Auburn Hills, MI. He is a former captain of the wrestling team at Michigan State and is now a nationally known fitness writer. His work has been featured in Men’s Health, Muscle & Fitness, Stack.com and many other fitness themed publications.

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