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After completing Week 2 of the Arnold Challenge, I couldn’t help but think of the following quote I would use during my public speaking days: “In every form of adversity, there is opportunity. You just have to find it.”
I came up with that to help share some positivity with those I was speaking with, and it’s served as a way to help me process whatever I was dealing with at the time.
That quote popped up in my head once again while I was taking on Arnold’s challenging routine. I knew going in that this journey wouldn’t be easy. That’s why I took it to begin with—I want to improve, not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually as well. There were several obstacles that I had to face early on this week, and I learned several lessons along the way.
The first lesson that I thought I knew—but truly learned on a Tuesday morning— was that there were no room for mistakes on this program. I had only gotten four hours of sleep the previous night, and I thought a longer nap between the two sessions would make up for it.
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
My weights went down significantly on almost every exercise, and I found myself taking more time to recover between sets. That was messing with my head, which affected the rest of that training session overall. After what I thought was a sufficient nap, I was mentally pumping myself up for the second workout. Spoiler: that didn’t go as planned, either. Once again, I was starting off weaker than in the past, and I was getting frustrated.
The lack of sleep and numbers dropping became my adversity, so it was time to find the opportunity. As cool as it would be to throw up massive numbers, Arnold Schwarzenegger trained for bodybuilding. The muscles don’t read the numbers on the weights. He just wanted to train the muscles to the best of his ability. That was what I needed to do.
So, I pivoted. I focused more on slowing the weight down, maximizing the tension, and flexing muscles in between sets. What I found was the workout went much better overall because of that effort to challenge the muscles in other ways. I learned something that I could apply going forward. I got better, which was the overall point of this to begin with.
Lesson 2 was that every last detail matters. You’ve read about the importance of nutrition, supplementation, and recovery many times over the years on Muscle & Fitness. I’ve shared that information myself in many of my articles over the years. The importance of all those variables increases tenfold on a program like this. Every calorie, every minute of rest, and every practice I can implement to maximize my recovery matters. The time I take to warm-up matters as well.
That lesson hit home on my leg session of week two of the Arnold Challenge. I had run errands with the family, and we got behind on the schedule. So, once we pulled into the driveway, I opted to skip my scheduled meal, mixed my BCAA’s and went straight to my barn to start training so I could still finish on time. I neglected my normal routine of using my percussive gun and stretching before I started the workout. That cost me. My numbers went down significantly, and I was seriously fighting temptation to call it an evening early. However, I applied the lesson I had previously learned about making the most out of what I have, and it still turned out to be a productive session.
So, my takeaway on that day was to not ignore anything going forward. If I have to take extra time, I have to take it, but the work must still be done properly so I can get the most out of this. I vowed to myself that from that point forward, I was taking each meal and step in this process as seriously as I do the training itself.
This wasn’t entirely a doom and gloom of the Arnold Challenge, however. There were certainly upsides to this as well. When I saw the first article on Muscle & Fitness, it hit home that this was real, and I was very proud to see that. It made my day even more that Arnold shared my posts about it on his social media. So, he knows, and what I thought was already maxed out motivation increased a lot.
At the end of the day, motivation isn’t the ultimate factor that has carried me through up to this point. Motivation is fleeting. It really takes serious dedication and discipline to grind through 24 hours of total training a week alone. Fortunately, my phone has been a great help through this. Putting on music, YouTube videos with Arnold sharing his wisdom to the world, and listening to podcasts with folks like Tony Robbins, Ed Mylett, and Lewis Howes talk about success and growth has been a big help. I would never put myself of the level of those people, but I want to take what they share and use it to help me elevate myself as high as I can.
I have also shared videos and posts with a few people that are interested in this journey, and the encouragement I’ve gotten back has been great. Whether it was a “damn, you’re strong” or a simple thumbs up, it both encourages me and holds me accountable.
Last but not least, the support I’ve gotten on social media and the feedback to these articles has been wonderful. My deepest thanks go out to all of you that are riding along on this. As corny as this may be, the final two, three, or four reps of the 21st or 22nd set I do are as much mental as they are physical. Knowing someone may read these and use it as a way to improve is something I take very seriously. When I started out as a teenager, I walked almost a mile and back to go to the gym each morning, regardless of what the weather was like, and I would imagine myself someday being in a position to inspire others to be their best. If this is that opportunity, I don’t want to waste it. That thought is almost like a spotter at the end of these supersets and trisets.
If you want to see glimpses of what week two of the Arnold Challenge and how I’m doing throughout this process, you can follow me on Instagram @rocklockridge, where I share updates, clips, and thoughts throughout this journey. You can also check back to M&F for future articles in this series. Don’t forget to follow them @muscleandfitness as well.