Willpower, adherence, enthusiasm, momentum, synergy

Scant attention is paid to the psychological aspects of the transformational process. To reconfigure the human body, we must first reconfigure the Mind. The Mind can be the transformative acolytes best friend or worst enemy. Those that have undergone their own vital transformation will attest that there are identifiable mental states associated with the physiological phases that accompany a radical physical transformation.

The overarching goal of all things diet, exercise and fitness-related is to transform the body, i.e., improve muscularity, improve leanness, improve performance. Remolding the human body requires a skillful blending of serious exercise, disciplined eating and optimal rest and recovery. The exercise plan must be sufficiently intense; the diet selected appropriate and effective, formalized rest and recovery are not optional.

The task is nothing short of herculean: revamp the body. Add muscle, burn off body fat and in doing so automatically improve athletic performance. All athletic undertakings improve if the athlete (somehow) becomes significantly leaner and/or significantly more muscular.

Training and nutritional strategies are set into timeframes. The interlinked disciplines combined to form “the process.” Various modes and methods are combined to reconstruct the body, to alter it, from what it is into a new and improved version, a streamlined version, a more muscular version and a more capable version.

Each week the ante is upped: the diet further tightened, the weightlifting made heavier, the cardio done faster and longer. Each week progress is coaxed, slight gains are registered in each of the intertwined disciplines. Creeping incrementalism occurs when the athlete sets the big macro goal into a timeframe (usually twelve weeks) and creates weekly micro-goals.

Each week, in a wide range of disciplines, the athlete steps closer towards the attainment of the overarching goal, one small step at a time. After months of perfect adherence, the trainee arrives at the end goal and attains the radically improved body.

There is a natural and predicable shifting of psychological perspective that occurs as the transformative process unfolds. Mental recalibration accompanies and assists every phase of the successful physical transformation. The Mind is recalibrated to aid the effort.

What is the core motivation behind all things diet and fitness-related? What causes us to join gyms, jog, diet, purchase supplements, hire personal trainers, purchase diet books and fitness equipment? I would suggest there is a single unifying commonality: a desire to change our body, to improve upon its current shape and degree of fitness.

The core motivation for the transformative process springs from the Mind of the individual.  A strong and reoccurring internal vision jump starts the process and sustains the process in the early stages.  We see and imagine ourselves in our idealized, reconfigured body, sleek and lean. In our mind’s eye we create mental imaginings; we see ourselves powering through life with our radically transformed body.

If these visions, these daydreams, are strong enough, vivid enough and repetitive enough a burning desire for physical change takes root. This unquenchable urge ultimately morphs from imagining into action. We decide to do something to order improve our physique.

The sophisticate, moved to action, researches modes and methods and after comparing and contrasting exercise and diet templates, creates an overarching, integrated periodized game plan, A combined effort is launched in three separate areas, differing disciplines are pursued simultaneously: resistance training, cardiovascular training, nutrition. Three separate game plans are created and implemented.

In the beginning, willpower powers the process. Initially we do what we do on blind faith and belief. Willpower is all about having the self-control and fortitude, the grit and gumption, the diligence needed to adhere rigidly to selected guidelines and strategies. Strength of will enables us to (initially) stay on track without regard for results. But for how long?

At some point we rightfully expect physical results for our diligent and unwavering fitness efforts. Unfortunately, effort and discipline are no guarantor of success. If the modes and methods selected are flawed, your efforts are doomed to fail. Select wisely resistance training, cardio and nutritional strategies.

The transformational process is akin to fitness Ground Hog Day: the same fitness and dietary procedures are repeated, over and over, on a daily and ongoing basis. There are no breaks, no timeouts, no cheat meals or days off.  Food prep need be done before foods can be eaten. Cardio must be consistent and intense.  Weight training is made increasingly difficult.  Rest and sleep are legislated. All this new activity and upset need be fitted into our already busy and hectic lives, no easy task.

The stronger the willpower the longer the trainee can adhere without experiencing results. If there are no results, or if the results are insignificant, smart people eventually quit. Those with stronger wills last longer, but no results are no results. Why would anyone rearrange their lives and go to all the time, trouble and effort to fit fitness in - if the results are negligible or barely noticeable? The cost-benefit ratio is important and should not be ignored.

Willpower is finite. No matter how strong minded or determined a person is, at some point all acts of will must come to an end. Transformative Masters understand that once the process commences, the willpower spigot is turned on. The goal is subtle: to attain significant physical results before the willpower supply is exhausted.

Tangible results generate enthusiasm.  Genuine enthusiasm (born of results) is self-sustaining, like solar power or cold fusion. While willpower is finite, enthusiasm is infinite. Obtaining real results generates genuine enthusiasm. Where there is amped-up enthusiasm for the process, adherence becomes effortless. Long term adherence to the key to transformational success.

When faithfully subjected to the broad totality of the combined protocols, the human body has no choice other than to strengthen, grow and/or shed body fat. The methods work: the only variable is the ability of the trainee to adhere.

After weeks of small consistent gains, enthusiastic adherence morphs into synergy. When enveloped in synergy, the sum is greater than the individual parts. While the athlete remains in this synergistic sweet spot, muscle is built, body fat is oxidized, performance soars. When all the component parts are in place and practiced in a balanced and even-handed fashion, the trainee can ride the synergistic razor’s edge and experience the gain of a lifetime. Synergy carries us across the transformational finish line.

Make sure to check out Marty Gallagher's latest books, Strong Medicine and The Purposeful Primitive, that are packed with a rich history of the sport of powerlifting and its founding fathers including proven, no-nonsense methods and "old school" knowledge for gaining strength, muscle and becoming leaner.

About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.