Posted By Matt Jansen on January 14, 2019
Motivation is one of the “hot” words right now, how to get it, how to keep it and what to do when you loose it but I think a lot of us are focusing on the wrong thing in the first place. Whenever I study successful people in any given field they rarely if ever speak on their own motivation. I am currently reading From the Shadow – Dorian Yates Biography as well as Mamba Mentality from Kobe Bryant and both of these men who reached the pinnacle of their sport multiple times have yet to touch on motivation. See to me motivation is something that is temporary and really not needed. What you need to be doing is focusing on the quantifiable things that will lead to a greater goal. Here are some tangibles that I believe will keep you going throughout 2019 when the motivation seems to fade, these characteristics of successful people will keep you on track regardless of motivation level.
“the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.”
I purposely chose this characteristic first because a self disciplined individual does not need to rely on motivation in order to be successful. They don’t act off of feelings which is exactly what motivation is, it’s a feeling and as your motivation comes and goes so will your “feelings” about your goal if you are not self disciplined. Self disciplined individuals wake up on time without being told, train regardless of how their day went and show up prepared each day with their meals or whatever means are needed to be successful.
“to focus means to direct time and attention to a limited number of issues. Things that are outside your selected area of focus become unimportant.”
You cannot be everything to everyone which is why I feel this is such an important variable in being successful, “things outside your selected area of focus become unimportant.” Take a look at successful people each and every one of them will tell you that they had to cut people, events and behaviors out of the way in order to attain their goal. This is a non negiotaible trait of successful people, you cannot maintain the life you once had in order to attain a life that you are dreaming of.
Non Negotiable –
“not open to discussion or modification.”
I felt this was important to place in but let me be clear, I am not saying that successful people do not negotiable things what I am saying is they do not negotiate with themselves on things that should not be negotiated. IE morning cardio, cheat meals, training sessions.
A successful person is not going to reward themselves for good behavior, good behavior is what expected its not a reward. Examples here are “I trained legs really hard yesterday I should skip morning cardio” “I have been perfect on my diet for 6 days I have earned a cheat meal” thoughts like this are not entertained by the successful individual, they might be thought about but are acted upon.
“done on purpose; deliberate.”
Pretty self explanatory here but again I feel its very important. Successful people are very intentional with what they do. It’s the un intentional that just hope they wake up one day and have the physique they want, the career they want or the bank account they dream of. It’s the intentional people that are doing what it takes to make these things happen.
This is why I believe so many make true progress during a contest prep when on paper it doesn’t make sense. Its not so much due to the variables of the prep its more so due to the fact that they first time all year they are giving 100% each day vs in the off season they were not stringing together perfect days as they are during prep.
“unchanging in nature, standard, or effect over time.”
I think it’s important to end with this because in order to be successful you need to take all the above characteristics and be consistent with them over the long haul. I was reading on Nick Saban just last week, it took him 30 years to become an elite coach, 30 years! In our industry coaches are throwing the flag within a matter of 3-5 years with no to very little education behind them and even less experience. Successful people know that consistently doing the right thing over a long period of time is what is going to get them and keep them at the top!
If you guys get nothing out of this other than the following than to me this has been a success. Stop chasing things based on emotion and base your goals on factual things that you can actually hold onto. Motivation is an emotion and one that is going to be somewhat of a roller coaster approach to your goals, the above characteristics are going to withstand the test pf time and are a very calculated way to be successful regardless of your emotional state. Cling to those things and you will be successful.
Posted By Matt Jansen on December 5, 2018
Thriving not just surviving through the Holiday’s
I am sure that based off of this title you guys might be reading this hoping to get a certain diet or guidelines on how to stay on track but that is not quite what I am going for here. I think a lot of the industry focuses on the wrong things during this time rather than the big picture. I am not going tell you to drop your carbs throughout the days of Holiday Parties, or pack your meals every time you leave the house or the one that really drives me crazy which is to do extra cardio to make up for the food that’s been consumed in fact it is going to be more of the opposite. To me this time of year is one of my favorites and I do believe it can be enjoyed while staying on track if you have a plan ahead of time and stick to it. Ultimately I believe that consistency is key and consistently doing the right things a majority of the time is going to pay off even if each meal is not perfect (which in all honestly in the big picture unless you are prepping it shouldn’t be).
Relax – One of the biggest killers of joy during this season is stress. Stressing time, traffic, what you are going to buy for someone, for the physique athlete how you are going to stay on track ect. Constantly stressing a situation is not usually going to bring the best out of it so just do you best to have a plan and stick to it and not stress the small (not often important details).
Have a plan ahead of time – Have a plan ahead of time – it’s safe to say that more often than not one will lose control when they don’t have a plan. Whenever I go to an event or party where I know I will be eating at the party I know what type of foods I am going to stick to while there. If you are going to eat dessert, that’s okay but set a limit for yourself don’t just go in and wing it. If you are serious about your goals and what it takes to get to them you should have a pretty good idea of macronutrient composition IE what the content is within the food you are eating so just do a good job of knowing what you are taking in and not just ending up 5k calories in at the end of the night without even realizing it.
Train in the morning (wake up earlier ☺ ) – In my opinion a few meals off plan is not going to really derail things if you have a plan in place for when those situations come up but where things really start going off is if you are eating off plan and also not consistent with your training. For those of you that train in the evenings do you best to get your training in early so you are keeping that variable consistent. If you have to wake up early, do it and you wont regret that decision so that way you can still enjoy those evening parties and know that you are not missing out on your training.
Be memories focused – We as a society are so food focused when it comes to events and “gathering around the table” so to speak. If you really reflect and look back over the years it’s the memories that you make that have nothing to do with food that are remembered. I am sure most of you don’t even remember what you ate last Christmas so don’t be so food focused within the moment that you miss out on the big picture of making lasting memories and the traditions that really make this time of year so great.
Be perfect when it is in your control – last but not least, outside of the parties, events and family gatherings be perfect when it’s in your control. This applies to any season the more you can be perfect day in and day out the better off you will be and you can truly relax for the Holiday season knowing that you are doing what is needed day in and day out and that 2-5% of your life not on plain is not going to derail things due to the daily commitment you have.
If we can really grasp that in times like this life is truly bigger than us and our goals I do think you will be just fine, a missed meal, training session or a few extra calories here and there during this final month of the year is not going to make or break you, it might be the last time we get to spend time with a loved one, or an opportunity to see someone that has invested in our own lives for a long time and in times like these our goals or the constant drive that we carry should be put into perspective of life and what truly matters.
Posted By Matt Jansen on October 31, 2018
If I can get anything across in this article it would be that very little should change from an off season phase to a pre contest phase, in my mind the only real changes are more so mentally in terms of how far I am taking the set in my head. As we get leaner or leverages change, body fat is dropping and the amount of water we hold around our joints becomes less so I do think it is wise to think about these things when you are approaching your sets in the gym. This is not at all to say I do not train hard or suggesting you to not do so but what I am saying is the rep that I would go for in the off season knowing in my head there might be some risk involved I do not go for in prep. Over time I have learned what my body is capable of in terms of true reps completed vs going down that last time and knowing that you might not be able to get back up. That is really the only change for me during a prep is that last rep is the one I might not go for but I will always go for the reps I know I can complete to true full rep failure on my own. The partials, forced reps, “these types of set extenders” is what I more often than not avoid in the final phases of prep.
This is something that really comes into effect the final weeks of prep. During the middle phases of prep IE the 12-6 weeks out mark realistically if all variables are lining up correctly you should be at your strongest. For guys who are tipping the higher end of the scale they might even note that their training improves during prep as they lose some of the un needed fat that they might be carrying which improves their ability to work more and push harder as their work capacity improves.
Here is a training system example of how I was approaching training during my final phase of prep.
Chose either cables or machines based off of the muscle group that is going to be trained on that day to get some blood flowing and get the muscle warm prior to training your specific movements.
Exercise 1: Compound Movement
Warm up scheme would follow the same rep pattern as the working rep scheme
Working Set 1: Max set to be completed to true failure without forced reps in the 6-8 rep range,
Working Set 2: Reduction in load by 10-15% then complete another Max set this time with a possible forced rep added seeing as the load / nervous system and joint impact not as great.
Exercise 2: Compound Movement OR Plate Loaded Movement
Emphasis here changes just slightly from aiming to move max weight with solid form to slowing the reps down a bit more and forcing a hard contraction on each rep so the load will drop slight due to rep tempo involved.
Warm up scheme would follow the same rep pattern as the working rep scheme.
Working Set 1: Forcing a hard contraction and full stretch on each rep aiming for a max set of 8-10 Reps
Working Set 2: Forcing a hard contraction and full stretch using the same weight as set 1 but now turning it into a double drop set. If you complete this correctly using the same weight as set number 1 you should not be able to complete the same amount of reps. So here I would say if you got a true set to failure of 10 reps on set number 1, on set 2 the reps should drop by 2-3 reps so that is where your double drop begins, reduce about 20 lbs per arm per drop.
Exercise 3: Plate Loaded Movement OR Stretch Emphasis Movement
(Example: Fly’s, Holding a row in the stretched position, pause reps at the bottom of a squatting movement ect)
Here we want to train from a fully stretched position so that portion of the rep needs to be emphasized through pause reps with the muscle being fully lengthened and also eliminating momentum out of the stretch.
Slow acclimation working sets here aiming for 4-5 increases in weight until you can no longer complete a set of 10 hard reps with a full contraction. These should be slow increases in weight not large jumps. We want to accumulate some volume here seeing as we cannot push loads to the same extent to true failure that we could in the off season.
Exercise 4: Contraction emphasis movement
(After the heavy loading and training from a stretched position working the muscle through a full range of motion going back to emphasize the contraction to get every last bit out of the muscle before we call it a day) This is also a time to visualize hitting the reps like you would through full muscle contractions on stage
Choose a weight here where you can get 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps with full hard contractions overly emphasizing the pause through a hard contraction on each rep.
Loaded stretches to finish stretching the muscle out through 30-45 second holds under load (example DC type stretching)
Posted By Matt Jansen on September 18, 2018
Contest prep in many ways is truly what you make it. Outside of the diet and training which to me are the X’s and O’s there are other certain variables that are 100% within your control that in my opinion can make or break your prep OR often times even with those who happen to be successful they still seem miserable every step of the way. Below I have outlined some variables that I believe if you make the most of them you will have a successful prep and also look back without a lot more positive memories than negative ones.
1) Prioritize mental rest and recovery not just physical
I made this one first for a reason. We get in our heads as physique athletes especially during prep that more is better and we get fixated on just the cosmetic look. thinking we have to “outwork” everyone whatever that means. Often times the cosmetic appearance is dictated by the internal function if you are constantly burning the candle at both ends it will be much harder to display the best you on show day. Take days off and prioritize them, check out of bodybuilding for the day in terms of constantly being engaged in IG, studying your pictures, watching training videos etc. Outside of having to eat and having to drink on your off days check out and do something outside the box to get your mind off of prep and I can promise you that you are going to feel so much more fresh the next time you step into the gym.
2) Don’t change more than one variable at a time
This is something I see often with less experienced physique athletes that are attempting to do their own preps (and kudos to you guys for doing so!) When you start to make changes OR when you are near the end and you have reached a point where your progress has stalled review all variables, pick one that makes the most sense to you and make those changes first.
If your digestion is hindered pick one or two items within your day and remove them, rather than changing your entire diet. Sure changing the entire diet and food sources might work but what have you learned from this, absolutely nothing. Make calculated pulls then sit back and assess.
Same goes for general or very specific fat loss progress. Don’t pull all your carbs, cut fats in half and add in 45 min of cardio to start out your prep. Choose one of those variables add it in and sit back and watch what happens. Chances are you will surprise yourself. Again sure making 3-4 major changes at once will elicit a change but then what if you have pulled most of the tools out of the bag to begin with you are not going to have much to rely on when you need it once the initial changes come to a halt. Being a prep athlete with patience will carry you far especially when it comes to decision making and the progress that comes as a result of that.
3) Start Early – You need to lose more than you think you do
This goes across the board but again those who are new to this please do yourself a favor and start the dieting process early. The first time you get into true contest shape you have no idea how much fat you are carrying and it will take longer than you think 9x out of 10. Even if you have a perfect prep in terms of fat loss there is some type of speed bump that might get in the way and if you start early you will be ahead and these bumps wont set you back. Whether that be sickness, family concern, slight injury etc by starting early and being ahead from the start these types of “that’s life” experiences will not set you back or put you into panic mode. At worst you are ready early, completely in shape and you get to increase intake into the show and that is never a bad thing!
4) Take your pictures in the same spot or spots
Consistency within your progress pictures is key. You want the truest images that you can find to look back at and compare as well as assess your progress throughout the prep. Don’t seek out the best lighting you can find just seek out the truest lighting you can find. If you look bad in the lighting once you are ready you will not so just stick it out and keep them consistent. I understand a lot of people like to also take pics in the gym which is great but again keep that spot consistent as well. This will help you so much and keep the head games at bay as well as reduce the internal questioning of which are the true images vs which might be displaying you better than you truly are. When in doubt pick the harshest lighting you can find, once you look good there you will look good anywhere!
5) Become a product of consistency
Consistency in pursuit of any goal is important and it’s no different for contest prep. I truly believe the more consistent you are in all variables the more successful you will be. This means wake up time, morning routine, meal times, the time you train, the time you go to bed, the time(s) you poop…seriously, as best as you can make each day mirror each other. If the variables are constant you will not have to take into consideration for the inconsistencies especially with things like weight. I have seen it time and time again the scale is going to play mind games for you if you are not waking up and going to bed at the same time of the day and between those two points if your foods and fluid intake are not the same that too is going to play into true progress and paint somewhat of a cloudy picture for you to have to sort through when assessing your progress.
Hopefully this serves as some help to you all as you start or being your next contest prep. These 5 things are something that i hold true in my own preps as well, we do this to be our best so considering even the most simple things yet not overcomplicating them can make all the difference!