7 Winning Strategies for Growth

Training secrets that separate the best from the rest.

Think big. We don’t mean typical rep ranges or average daily protein consumption. Those are crucial components of success, but think bigger. Consider what philosophical approaches help the crème de la crème rise to the top.

Here, we focused on the most accomplished bodybuilders of all time: the four men who’ve won six or more Mr. Olympia contests — Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman. Analyzing the lifestyles of these men before and during their Olympia reigns, we discovered seven habits that distinguished them from their fellow pro bodybuilders. These are the tendencies that separate the very best from the rest and which everyone should utilize to maximize their physique potential.

1) BE PROACTIVE

Backstage after bodybuilding contests, some competitors from second to last have ready excuses for their performances. These range from illness and injury to incompetent judges to “a freak of nature” victor — any of which may or may not be true. Meanwhile, some accept all blame for their fate — whether or not they deserve it — and are already strategizing what they’ll do different next time. Invariably, the latter make the greatest improvements, while those who always have an excuse for losing almost always have cause to use it.You can either be reactive or proactive. When you’re reactive, you blame outside circumstances and other people for obstacles or failures. By inference, there was nothing you could’ve done differently. When you’re proactive, you take responsibility for everything in your life and, because you’ve assumed control, you can anticipate difficulties, then devise a plan and take actions for overcoming any circumstance.

Perhaps no bodybuilder and, indeed, few people have ever been more proactive than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since childhood, he’s planned to win and acted accordingly. Those rare times when things didn’t go his way, he focused not on opponents or uncontrollable factors, but instead worked diligently to make certain he wouldn’t feel the sting of defeat again. In Pumping Iron , he playfully dismissed his fellow Olympia contestants as insignificant to his eventual victory — a demeanor some may see as arrogant, but it merely reflected the proactive mindset that he had no control over their physiques, so he focused entirely on himself, feeling, as he must, that if he’s as good as he can possibly be, he’ll win again.

THE LESSON

Whether or not you pose competitively, your approach to bodybuilding must be proactive. Don’t rely on excuses, however legitimate, for why you don’t have the physique you desire. Such a reactive mindset can only slow your progress. Instead, assume full responsibility for your current condition, seize control of your fate in all aspects of your life, and plot a course to achieve your bodybuilding goals.

“I taught myself discipline, the strictest kind of discipline: how to be totally in control of my body. Bodybuilding changed me entirely. It gave me confidence and pride and an unlimited positive attitude, and I can apply my success to everything. I always had a positive attitude about going to the top. Never was there even the slightest doubt in my mind that I would make it.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1977

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