The single most important factor in training your abs is not the diet that you follow, the cardio you do or even your abs exercises; it is having the right mind set. In order to succeed in building strong muscular abs you are required to demonstrate the same qualities that are needed to succeed in anything else in life. First, you need to have a clear vision of the goal you have set yourself, then you need the right plan to put it into action and finally you need to give the plan the time it needs to bear fruit and it is here that the right mind set plays its part.
The reason for this is because few things that we try to achieve run smoothly without coming across obstacles, setbacks or failures along the way. On top of that, it is only natural that there will be times when your energy levels are low or your mood is such that it is easy to just go through the motions or miss your training altogether. It is also true that sticking faithfully to a calorie controlled diet can sometimes be difficult when you are constantly bombarded with tasty treats to tempt you. This is why developing the right mind set is ultimately the thing that will decide how successful you become.
In order to ensure that your mind is always full of enthusiasm, determination and focused on your goal there are many techniques that you can use to help.
One of the most important but not means easy things to maintain during any quest is a positive mental attitude. Regardless of whether your mind set is positive or negative, you can be sure that it will definitely influence every action that you take in both your life and in a program of diet and exercise. If your thoughts are negative; every task that you undertake can seem difficult to do, and every sacrifice can seem pointless. As such, is usually only a matter of time before you convince yourself that the most sensible option is to give up on what you are trying to accomplish.
On the other hand, if your thoughts are positive then nothing is too much of an effort, and any sacrifice seems easy to make. Therefore, pursuing your goal seems effortless because you truly believe it will pay dividends in the end. As you can see you are always more likely to succeed with a positive mental attitude so it makes sense to learn about how it can be influenced. One way to do this is to find out as much as possible about what you are doing, and what results you can expect before you begin your task. The reason I say this is because in my experience, one of the primary factors that can create a negative attitude is being unsure that what you are doing is the correct procedure to bring about the outcome you want. If on the other hand you have done your research, and the evidence clearly shows what is likely to happen as a result of your actions as well as how long it will take to achieve your goal, it becomes far easier to stay positive. You should apply this same principal to your abs training. If you do as much research as possible on abs training you will notice that all of the evidence suggests that if you consume less calories than your body needs to maintain its present weight, as well as exercising frequently, your body will burn fat to provide energy. You will also note that the reason your abs are not currently visible is because some of that same fat you are intending to burn is in fact covering your waistline. It is therefore inevitable that once you begin to burn the fat, you will get a six pack if you stick at your program long enough. The only variable is the time it takes to happen and that is a scientific fact.
Keep an exercises and diet journal
If someone gave me the choice of having only two items to enhance my training, the items I would choose would be a pen and paper. This is so that I could then keep an exercise and diet journal, as I strongly believe that this is the most important aid in achieving the goals that you have set yourself. I am not alone in this belief, as most successful sportsmen and women do the same and keep accurate records of all their training sessions, year upon year. This is not only a useful tool but is also a testament to their attention to detail; that if asked, most could tell you exactly how much they weighed, what exercises they did and for how many sets and reps on any given day 1, 2 or even 5 years ago.
For your abs training keeping an accurate journal is vital in order to be sure of the progress you have made in weight loss, number of repetitions in any given exercise, and how your body measurements have changed. It is also true that we can all be guilty of false memory at times and it is easy to sometimes think that we have done better or worse than we really have. However, when it is in black and white in your journal, there can be no argument about the progress you have made. So for your exercise and diet journal, try to include as much information as possible. For example, record how many times you train each week, how long the training sessions last, the number of sets and repetitions you do for each exercise, and also how you felt both physically and mentally; before during and after your workouts.
For this journal it is important to record your body measurements and weight at the start of the program, and every week there after. Also note how many calories you consume each day, and what percentage of your diet is made up of protein, carbohydrates and fats. You should also record how many meals you eat per day, and how the diet makes you feel both physically and mentally.
Keeping these journals will help to prevent you from making many mistakes, and will also allow you to be fully aware of what is working for you and what is not. Therefore, you can quickly adapt any methods that are proving to be unsuccessful as soon as they become apparent. Also keep in mind that there are many people who train regularly but whose progress has stagnated for months or even years. However, if you were to ask those same people what exercises, sets, reps or diet they followed one year ago, most would be unable to tell you as they did not keep accurate and regular records. It is not possible to improve or build upon your progress if you don’t know what you have done in the past.
Visualization (or mental rehearsal as it is sometimes known) is one of the most powerful techniques used in modern sports psychology, and it would be fair to say that it has probably been practiced since sportsmen or women first began to compete against each other. The technique, which is simple to learn but very effective to use, has many benefits to offer anyone taking up abs training. First and foremost; by providing a mental image of exactly how you want to look once you have achieved your goal.
This was the case with the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has often said that he used visualization to formulate the image of the man he wanted to become from the moment he took up bodybuilding. In your own training, it will pay to do the same and spend time nurturing the concept of how your abs will look and feel once you have achieved your goal. Another important and very effective way to use visualization is to mentally rehearse what you will accomplish during your workouts; such as the number of sets and repetitions you want to complete. It is also very effective if you are struggling to perform an exercise correctly, as the problem can soon be overcome by simply picturing yourself executing the movement as it should be done
At this stage I feel it is also worth mentioning an important and extremely relevant experiment carried out by Russian scientists. In this experiment, there were three separate groups of volunteers. The first group were instructed to perform a number of exercises for 12 weeks, the second group were told to spend 50% of their allotted time exercising and 50% of it just visualizing doing the exercises, and the final group were asked to do no exercise at all. Instead, the third group spent their time simply visualizing doing the exercises. The results of this experiment showed that the group who did both exercise and visualization became stronger than the group who only exercised. Remarkably, the group who practised only visualization and did not participate in any exercising were found to be the strongest group of all.
Before any Olympic medal can be won, world record time set or perfect performance displayed, the desire to achieve these great feats has to be nurtured. After all, only by having goals do we feel the need to take the action necessary to succeed in the first place. However, it is also true to say that in order to have any chance of success, the ambition that you have in your mind must be clearly defined and focused on. This is because a simple whim decided upon one morning without any real thought will be abandoned as quickly and as easily as it appeared.
Sports psychologists have now proven that to in order to succeed, a goal has to be clearly identified, measured and broken down into smaller more manageable targets. This process has since been labelled “the three rules of goal setting”.
Know exactly what your goal is:
You should know exactly what your goal is so that you can put the correct plan of action in place in order to reach it. Although this might seem obvious, it is also important to know exactly what criteria needs to be met so that you are fully aware of when you have in fact reached your target. Therefore, with your abs training program, do not set your goals as vague as the idea of simply having great abs. Instead, be as concise as you can be and know exactly how muscular, defined and strong the abs need to be in order for your ambition to have been reached
Always be realistic:
I believe that you should always aim high in life, but you also need to be practical or you risk setting yourself up for disappointment. An example of aiming too high would be if the ambition of a man weighing 10 stone was to be the strongest man in the world. The laws of physics would suggest that this is unlikely to happen, as he could not compete against those who weigh 3 or 4 times as much as himself and still succeed. A wiser goal would be to aim to be the strongest 10 stone man in the world. However, you do not have to worry about being over ambitious with your abs training as you now know that if you stick to the program, you will get great looking strong abs. That is a scientific fact. The need for realism only applies to the amount of time needed to achieve it. So, if you have never done any abs training before, be realistic and do not expect results overnight. Instead, take comfort in the knowledge that it is only a matter of time before this happens.
Break down the goals:
Always break down your main goal into smaller, more manageable goals. Having a main aim is crucial but can sometimes seem overwhelming or too far in the future to allow you to keep motivated. By having smaller goals that you can quickly reach, you receive constant positive reinforcement. This will keep your confidence level high, as each goal reached will confirm that you are doing the right thing for success. For abs training you can set small targets such as losing two pounds in weight, or increasing the repetitions in an exercise by one or two in order to keep you focused and full of enthusiasm throughout.
Self-belief in ones talents and abilities is a curious thing. Some seem to have such belief in abundance and never doubt for a moment that they will achieve their goal or get what they desire. Failure does not seem to cross their minds. Other people are not so lucky, and self doubt is a part of their mental makeup which they have to constantly strive to overcome.
However for your abs training, I want you to put any self doubt to one side and just consider this. There are no special talents or gifts needed to succeed, and neither does it take a special kind of person. If you follow a diet that creates a calorie deficit, and exercise for long enough for it to take effect then you will get a six pack no matter who you are, and that is a scientific fact.
One of the best aids you can use to keep your motivation on track is to see the improvements you are making week by week, and month by month. A great way to do this is to take some good quality photographs of your body before you have your very first abs training workout, and then every couple of weeks thereafter. Ensure that you take your photos from every angle; both standing relaxed and with your muscles tensed. This simple act provides a wonderful reference for your improvement, and nothing feels better than seeing how your body has changed before your very eyes. It is also true that after several months it can be easy to forget how your body looked at the start, and as such you might dismiss or doubt the progress that you have made. However, when you look at the very first photographs taken at the beginning, followed by your most recent ones, it becomes very easy to stay motivated.
Go back to see the future
A simple but effective trick to use when you feel your motivation is dropping is to take a look in your exercise journal and find one of the very first training routines you did. Then for your next training session, do the old routine with exactly the same exercises, sets and reps. Once you realise how easy it is to do now what was once so hard, you can soon put things into perspective and consequently, your motivation will come flooding back for continued success
Films and books
In order to maintain your motivation, it is a great idea to watch films, documentaries or perhaps read a book or article on a topic that you find inspiring. It doesn’t matter what the subject is as long as it motivates you and fills you with determination to succeed in your own goals. One choice could be biographies of people who have overcome great hardship or obstacles in order to win despite the odds being stacked against them, as seeing someone else succeed makes you realise that you can too. A great example of how a film can inspire you is Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon.’ This movie not only inspired me to take up martial arts and keep at it, but it has also had the same effect for a whole generation of young men.
The Mind set summary
The correct mind set will be the deciding factor in achieving your goals. Keep an up to date diet and exercise journal to record your progress. Stay positive with the knowledge that your program is scientifically proven to work. The only variable is time.