Q: You are such a great inspiration to me and other people our age. That said, I need to bug you for some help. I’ve been weight training regularly for more than 20 years, and I really enjoy it. When I first started, I was one of only a few women who lifted weights at my gym. For the past year or so I’ve had a hard time dragging myself to the gym. How have you stayed motivated year after year? Do you have any suggestions?
A: Thanks for the compliment. One of the things that now inspire me is getting e-mail from hardworking people like you. Being the kind of person who likes to help others live the bodybuilding lifestyle, I certainly don’t mind giving out a few pointers, although my girlfriend says I give away way too much info when I could be selling it.
The thing that’s kept me most motivated over the years and spurs me to get into the condition that you see in this magazine is competition. I’ve been competing for almost three decades, and the thought of getting onstage under the bright lights in front of hundreds of people in a pair of skimpy posing trunks still drives me as much as it did when I was preparing for my first contest. Plus, once I got the reputation for being ripped at every show—and nicknamed the Texas Shredder—there was no turning back. Add to that the fact that over the years I’ve had to stand next to ever-increasing levels of competition, so I’ve had to continually improve.
Although I train consistently throughout the year, my contest-preparation period is always the most intense because the clock is ticking. Once I start that, I know that I have a finite amount of time to get my body into top condition. There’s no rationalizing my way out of cardio sessions, and there’s definitely no missing weight-training sessions. I rarely do that anyway. During contest training the cardio must be done, the nutrition must be precise, and every set must count.
So, what can you do to light a new fire under your butt? Here are some ideas that can help:
1) Set concrete goals.
2) Get a training partner or a trainer.
3) Enter a powerlifting meet.
4) Enter a transformation contest.
5) Enter a physique contest.
The first thing you have to do is define your goals. Why are you training? You’ve been training for more than 20 years, but what is your purpose? If your only purpose for going to the gym is to maintain your health and well-being, then your goals could be set in terms of logging a certain number of weight-training workouts per week and a certain number of minutes or miles of cardiovascular exercise.
If you’ve been pumping iron for a couple of decades, I’m guessing that you like both the way it makes you feel and the way it makes you look. If in fact your appearance is important, then you need to set physical goals with specific end dates. You can shoot for dropping a specific amount of bodyfat or gaining a certain amount of muscle, but whatever the case, the goals need to be both challenging and attainable. Write your goals down along with the date you want to accomplish them. Post your goals in your training journal, on your bathroom mirror, on your refrigerator and on your desk or bulletin board at work. You want them where you can see them often. Another great place to post goals is on Bodyspace at Bodybuilding
.com. On Bodyspace you’ll find a lot of tools for logging your progress, and you’ll make online friends who are doing the same thing and will encourage and support you along the way.
One of the best ways to stay on track with your workouts is to find a workout partner or hire a good trainer. Either way you have to have set workout times, and you’re accountable to someone else for making your workouts. As much as I enjoy lifting weights, it’s always more enjoyable for me when I have a good workout partner. You want to find a partner who has goals similar to yours and likes to work out; there’s nothing worse than a partner who complains the whole time. A good partner will help you get those extra reps and will keep you going on days you don’t really feel like training.
When you looked at idea three you might have thought, “A powerlifing meet? Dave, are you nuts?” Yes, you can enter a powerlifting meet. Not everyone who lifts in a powerlifting meet is gigantic and superstrong. Most meets have a multitude of weight divisions and age groups, as well as “raw divisions,” in which bench shirts, squats suits and knee wraps are not allowed. The main thing is that you have a goal to shoot for in a specified period of time. You should measure your success by the weights that you lift and your improvement rather than by how you place.
If improving the appearance of your body is the main reason that you train, you might want to enter a transformation contest. They’re not hard to find. Some even offer the incentive of cash prizes, spokesmodel contracts or magazine publicity. Generally, a transformation contest runs for 12 weeks and involves taking before and after photos plus some sort of essay. If you enter a transformation contest, the after photos are of extreme importance. I recommend scheduling a photo shoot with an established physique photographer, which will put extra pressure on you to adhere to your diet and training program.
Although my girlfriend Diana didn’t enter a transformation contest, she scheduled a photo shoot with outstanding photographer Lisa Brewer in October 2009. Knowing that the expense was significant and that Lisa routinely shoots some of the best figure and bikini competitors in the world, Diana’s motivation level was off the chain. She lost a total of 42 pounds and was in by far the best shape of her life for the shoot. Knowing that she can get into that kind of condition, she’s now planning to compete. Quite a number of my clients have participated in transformation contests, made great progress and then decided that they wanted to take it to the next level and compete in a physique contest.
As I said, competing is tremendously motivating. If you decide that you want to get into the absolute best condition of your life, pick out a bodybuilding show and enter. Fill out your entry form and send in your entry fee early. Then tell your friends and family about your goal and garner their support.
Over the past 14 years of promoting the Texas Shredder Classic, I’ve seen some people do amazing things with their bodies in relatively short amounts of time—usually three to four months. I’ve seen middle-aged people—who I thought had no business entering a physique contest—get so focused on their training and diet that they completely transformed their bodies and in some cases won their divisions. Many people dramatically change their lives as well, regaining self-confidence that they’d lacked for many years.
When you start training for a bodybuilding, figure, fitness or bikini show, your training intensity goes to heights that you never dreamed were possible. You get out of bed and crank out cardio sessions at hours that you didn’t know actually existed. Knowing that everything you put into your mouth is going to affect how you look on contest day, you also find dietary discipline that you probably never knew you were capable of. The best part is that when you step onstage in the best shape of your life, you know for sure that it was you who did it and that you have control of everything within. I always tell people—and myself—not to train to win but to take satisfaction from seeing how much you improved. Enjoy the process and feel good about knowing that you’re in complete control along the way.
You’ve already chosen the “way of the iron.” You just need to step out of your comfort zone a bit and rekindle that flame.
Train hard, and eat clean.
Editor’s Note: See Dave Goodin’s blog at www.IronManMagazine.com. Click on the blog selection in the top menu bar. To contact Dave directly, send e-mail to [email protected] IM