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Inside the Mind of a Champion Bodybuilder

How Tom Platz, Lee Haney, Mike Christian, Boyer Coe and Countless Others Used Mental-Conditioning Secrets to Think and Grow Big!

I made some of my best gains ever in bodybuilding during the summer of 1981, when I worked with Pete Siegel, R.H. During a five-month period I gained 30 pounds of well-shaped muscle, lost 13 pounds of worthless fat and got incredibly strong on all of my exercises.

Pete who? Pete is one of the best’if not the best’sports and peak-performance coaches/hypnotherapists in the world. When you check out his client roster, it looks like a who’s who in pro bodybuilding and professional sports’including the NBA, NFL, NHL and PGA.

In the bodybuilding world Pete has worked with the incredibly intense, driven Tom Platz, eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, Mike Christian, Boyer Coe, Andreas Cahling, Ray Mentzer and many others to kick up the volume of their intensity, drive and will power. Even Dorian Yates, with his legendary work ethic, endorses Pete’s program.

Pete is a master at helping people transform themselves into super-confident mega-achievers by teaching them how to take control of their own minds. Here’s how he does it’and how it can benefit you.

DY:. You’ve said that 90 percent of success in sports is mental. Yet most bodybuilders do nothing about improving their mental approach and programming themselves for success. I think that’s where a lot of people fall short because they don’t know how to use mental tools to bring out their best performance, so they fall into self-doubt. How can your program help?

PS: First, you have to be realistic in terms of understanding your body cycles. Second, you must know what it is that you want to accomplish: what you want the outcome of each workout to be. That’s something most people don’t establish. Each workout has to pay you some kind of profit. And you must know what that is before you go into the gym. How should this workout change your body? What set-and-rep performance levels will you strive for in that workout? You must have a clear idea of that before you ever get to the gym.

Next, I help you understand how you believe and act under normal conditions: how you usually think, how you usually reason, how you usually respond, the results you usually get, the kind of energy or determination that you usually bring to a workout.

Then I identify the way you are when you’re at your maximum you’when you’re performing like a champion. That’s the way you are when you do that extra rep. It’s the person inside you who’s naturally driven, who never settles for good, good enough or what you did last time. To achieve true greatness, true personal success or the kind of improvement that you want, you must exert beyond what you did last time. And exertion is a good word because here it means instinctively pushing and adjusting your own power levels to thresholds that get the kind of results you desire.

DY: Wow, I can really feel a surge of power, excitement and enthusiasm as you talk. So how do you accomplish all that?

PS: I have you establish workout goals that are very clear. Then I help you learn the process that enables you to access and connect with the max you so that before you begin your workout, your power is focused, and you’re clear about what you want to accomplish. For example, before my own workout I might say, ‘Here’s where I am going in today’s workout, and here’s how I’m going to get myself there so I produce decisive results.’ Now I change from the ordinary me to the max me, and I remain that way throughout my entire workout.

More specifically, I might say, ‘I used 80-pound dumbbells for incline-bench presses in my last workout, and I got eight reps. So today I’m going to go 80 pounds for nine reps or 85 pounds for six or seven reps. I’m going to keep pushing myself and my body in unexpected ways so that I never get comfortable and I never get complacent. I’m going to keep myself at feverish intensity levels and embrace a success quest at each workout. This is how I will look at my bodybuilding purpose; from this the results I want will come!’ I help you program these ideas right into your unconscious.

DY: How does someone take that same process and apply it to the dietary part of bodybuilding?

PS: You have to look at diet two ways. If you’re going to do that much work in the gym, you’re’supposedly’motivated to follow through and not eat garbage foods that will compromise those efforts. You’re’supposedly’motivated to eat the foods that support your goals of increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing fat. Essentially, people who are connected to their goals should be motivated to do that, but temptation creeps in. ‘I can’t have this, but I want it.’ And therein lies the struggle with any kind of diet. So the first thing is to learn what you should eat and then develop enthusiasm for your new food choices.

DY: But let’s say that someone knows what to eat and when and has already made a firm decision to get into top shape. How does he or she then use mental conditioning to actually follow a strict eating, training and cardio regimen?

PS: Ask yourself what level of commitment you’re making to your bodybuilding. You have to understand and honor the full physical and mental process. After defining that, firmly say to yourself, ‘Now that I’ve decided to go for it, I’ll eat this way, and I won’t eat these other things. I won’t eat past a certain time at night, and I’ll take certain supplements’vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein shakes.

Again, it has to do with firmly mentally structuring what you want, the specific result that you’re striving toward, and your commitment level. How does the maximum me think right now? How does the max me feel right now? How does max me reason? What kind of inner strength does max me have? What kind of determination and will power? What kind of drive? What kind of striving capacity? What kind of resiliency? What kind of stamina, conviction and commitment does the max me have? And then there’s a success aspect of self you can refer to when it comes time to eat, for example, a yam, a chicken breast and salad.

The normal you may just want to sit in front of the TV and order a fully loaded pizza and down couple beers. But then you activate the discipline of the max you. Ask yourself, What’s the max me going to do about this? Then connect with the max you I just described. The max you knows you should, and easily can, eat that salad, that chicken breast and that yam. So now you’re not fighting yourself; you just honor your commitment to the goal.

The max you naturally commits to all phases of your bodybuilding decision. You pass the Baskin-Robbins shop because, ‘I want to be lean and striated; this isn’t part of my nutrition plan at all! If I want to have a snack, I’ll put some extra fruit into my protein shake later, and that will be what I stay with.’

It’s not a case where you’re fighting yourself to not have what you want or forcing yourself to eat what you should. It’s a case of accepting the whole process and remaining singularly connected to that part of yourself’especially emotionally connected’so that if you’re ever tempted to stray, you can connect to that part and get yourself right back on track. ALL DY: Do the processes you teach people to use help them do that on a consistent basis? In other words, do the effects of your coaching last?

PS: When I work with someone, the positive effects last a lifetime. I have people write to me all the time telling me that they bought one of my tapes 22 years ago and are still reaping the benefits from it.

So through the mental-conditioning processes I use, you’re going to have the power, the ability, natural instincts, ease and appropriateness to make wise dietary choices’and comfortably stay with them without forcing, fighting or dealing with inner conflicts that would otherwise drag you down to give in to urges and cravings.

I’m not saying cravings won’t come up, but the max you won’t give them free rein anymore. One of the aspects of my program is that I teach max you to fend off cravings with options and challenger thoughts. For example, max you will forcefully neutralize them by saying, ‘Wait a second. The payoff I’ll get from achieving my success is much more than the temporary payoff I’ll get by succumbing to you. I’m going to stay on the success road, and I’m going to get what I’m after. I’m not fighting urges or cravings anymore; I am staying on track because that’s where my true power comes from!’

DY: So how does your program differ from that of a psychologist like Dr. Phil or a motivator like Tony Robbins?

PS: Here’s the difference. First of all, psychologists only deal with the conscious mind, which is the state of mind you’re in right now. In that state of mind you have the ability to reason, process information, censor ideas, judge things and make value decisions based on interpretation of information; however, you don’t have that aspect available to you subconsciously. Hypnotherapists deal with the subconscious mind exclusively. Psychologists will try and reason with you, ask how you feel about something and then try to help you understand why a certain situation exists or why you have a problem or why a certain context is so prevalent in your life. And you’ll come to understand it, yet chances are you’ll keep on doing it. For example, how many smokers know how bad smoking is for them? Or how many alcoholics know how bad drinking is for them? Or gamblers? Yet they keep doing those things. How many obese people know how dangerous it is to keep eating high-fat and high-calorie foods, but they keep doing it. Why? Because they’re subconsciously programmed to continue doing those things.

Tony Robbins uses NLP, a behavior-changing system, and his awareness of hypnosis stems from what he’s gained from his NLP training. I’m an NLP trainer as well as a hypnotherapist, and I can tell you that what you learn about hypnosis in NLP is more in terms of structure and framework than a deep understanding of how to apply it as a therapeutic tool.

Enough about Dr. Phil and Tony Robbins. Pete Siegel is the one the champions come to, and his peak-performance methods are now used regularly by millions worldwide.

DY: In Part 2 of this interview we’ll delve deeper into how emotions can positively or negatively effect someone’s body chemistry, confidence and performance levels. For now, though, how can readers learn more about your ‘Think and Grow BIG’ mental-training program for bodybuilders?

PS: They can go to my Web site,, and click on the ‘Think and Grow BIG’ icon. IM

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