When I first got serious about lifting and trying to be successful as a physique athlete, one of my biggest influences was Gregg Avedon. If you’re not familiar with Gregg, he has graced more Men’s Health covers than anyone in history. And this was back when they actually put REAL physiques on the cover – not just some actor or athlete that isn’t fat.

Anyway, Gregg had an awesome website back then full of lifting programs and a diet template. He’s even published a recipe book called Muscle Chow which I love!

I was new to competing so I often emailed him for advice, and EVERY single time I wrote, he answered. To this day, I’m still grateful for the time this man took from his day to offer advice to a stranger. He is one of the reasons that I do the very same thing – respond to EVERY email I receive. I know what it means to put yourself out there and ask someone for their advice. Especially someone you repsect and look up to the way I did with Gregg.

About a week ago, I received a desperate email from a 14-year-old athlete asking me for help. I say desperate because, this was his message: “I’M TIRED OF SUCKING!”. He went to provide a few more details, but you get the point. He also told me how much he practiced and what he was doing to get better.

I explained to this young athlete that there are no shortcuts – just hard work, patience and¬†perseverance. I know, at 14, patience can be hard to come by, so I gave him a few things on which to focus during his training. First, since he hasn’t completed puberty, we’re going to hold off on the heavy weight training (the whole testosterone and growth hormone, recovery, and stunted growth bit).

The second thing I told him is the real lesson in today’s blog: pretend like your hero is watching you train.

I consider myself a VERY motivated person. Most days I crave the weights, and rarely do I need an extra mental boost to do what I love. But on certain drop sets, or leg days, or those times when you simply don’t have “it”, we all need something that propels us over the edge. One of the many mental tricks I have developed over the years is to pretend like somebody is watching me train. Not just anybody – it has to be someone you respect and want to impress. I’ve imagined people like Gregg, Arnold, my opponents, my enemies, and my coaches to name a few. Something about the thought of putting on a show for them always helps me come up with a little extra effort.

Now the trick is to not do anything stupid. Don’t try to lift more weight than you can. Realize that this person watching you isn’t judging your strength, your size, or your body fat level. They’re looking to see HOW you’re training. Are you using proper form, getting a full range motion, or are you squatting shallow or not extending your arms fully at the bottom of a pullup? This person is there to ensure that you do the little things right! Give 100% effort, do things right, and bust your ass. That’s all anyone can ask for. And after doing that for month after month, and year after year, only then will you realize that you’ve become the person you wanted to be!

What are you waiting for? Start chasing perfection in ALL aspects of your life!

In the comments below, I want to know ‘who is watching you’?