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Are You Really Working Hard Enough?

Committed. Driven. Focused. Disciplined. Those are the words many of us would use to describe the effort we put into our bodybuilding and training. In other words, we’re working hard. How about you? Are you working hard to reach your goals? From my experience coaching all over the world, I know that if I asked 10 people who trained that question, at least nine would emphatically answer, “Yes.”

There are many aspects of working hard, and everyone has a unique interpretation of what it means. Can all nine people truly be putting in the same amount of effort? Obviously, the chances are slim that they are.

Everything is relative. That means nothing has any concrete value unless it’s compared to something else. Are 100-pound dumbbells heavy? That depends on which exercise you’re doing, what your bodyweight is, how long you’ve been training and so on. The same can be said for what constitutes a “strict diet.” Whose diet are you comparing to yours when you call yours strict?

A frustrating challenge happens when you truly believe you’re working hard but aren’t getting the results you think you deserve. Here’s my challenge as your coach: How can I get you to understand that, regardless of what you think, you may not be working hard enough to reach your goals?

It’s an extremely delicate subject to address. People don’t appreciate being told they’re not working hard enough—and will usually do everything they can to discredit the person who tells them so and/or deflect the blame away from themselves. Unfortunately, until you can come to grips with reality, your chances of success will be limited.

I can’t force you to adopt the right perspective. Ultimately, you must be your own quality-control inspector, coach and motivator. You must take the responsibility for accurately monitoring your own progress.

I’ve discovered a powerful exercise to assist you in creating a clear definition of what working hard means to you. If you can live up to your self-imposed, clear and precise definition, you’ll have a better chance of getting results and being happy with your progress.

Take a few minutes to determine the specific actions and steps a person—just like you—must take every day consistently to account for three stages of physical development:

• a pretty darn good physique

• a great physique

• an absolutely amazing physique

One client of mine labeled the different levels as “Mr. Pretty Good,” “Mr. Outstanding” and “Mr. Mass Machine.”

Obviously, the stages won’t need the same amount of effort. List the differences in what you will and will not do in terms of training, eating, organization and mind-set to achieve each of those stages. The specific words you use to describe the three different kinds of accomplishment are not important. What is important is that you realize exactly what you must do—or how hard you must work—to achieve those different results. I took myself through that exercise years ago and found it to be extremely enlightening. It took me to a higher standard of achievement. Better yet, once I was conscious of what kind of effort it would take to set a new and higher standard, I instantly began to follow through on many of those “outrageous” demands. I boxed myself into total commitment. Every time it’s time for me to strive for a higher standard, I’ll do the exercise again.

Basically, the exercise requires you to create a checklist so you can easily monitor your follow-through or lack thereof and take 100 percent responsibility for your actions. When doing it, take into account your personal time constraints, physical limitations and other challenges. You should also factor in your special genetic gifts, abilities and advantages many other people training don’t enjoy.

Once you’ve established your new, improved and higher set of standards, never lower them. If you do, be honest with yourself, and don’t expect to achieve the same outstanding results. Also, rationalizing that you can’t start setting higher standards until you learn more is not acceptable. You’ll see how quickly the knowledge you need comes to you once you’ve raised your standards.

It’s my belief that the biggest reason we become frustrated with our lack of progress is that, whether we admit it or not, we’re not living up to our own standards. Deep inside we know when we’re making the most of the gifts we have and when we’re making excuses.

Do the exercise right now. List the specific actions you must take on a consistent basis every day to achieve 1) a pretty darn good physique, 2) a great physique and 3) an absolutely amazing physique.

Train hard—and think big. You are a Mass Machine Warrior.

Editor’s note: Skip La Cour is a six-time national-champion bodybuilder, a success and leadership coach and the creator of the Mass Machine Bodybuilding and Training Program. Learn how you can become a Mass Machine Warrior by visiting Sign up for the free weekly bodybuilding and training e-newsletter—and you’ll receive a free e-book.

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