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Training For Mental Toughness

By Eddie Avakoff
 
Sure, muscles look great. And isn’t it nice to be the one at the squat rack with more weight on the bar than anyone else? Well, as great as those tangible feats are, there are also some not-so-tangible qualities that many strive to achieve in the gym. And the one I’d like to talk about today is mental toughness.
Mental toughness is something that’s difficult to directly test. Of course, there are endurance events like a triathlon or the famous World’s Toughest Mudder, but I think strength sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, strongman, et cetera all require mental toughness of their own unique caliber.
Mental toughness shows itself in many different styles: A powerlifter needs to psych himself out into knowing he’s going to lift that PR, just as a young lady needs it to grind her way though 75 miles of a 24-hour mud obstacle race. And it’s no different than a bodybuilder having the fortitude to walk onstage in front of thousands of critical eyes and flex his muscles for others to judge—talk about mental toughness!
In order to build mental toughness, one must first embody the following characteristics:
PERSISTENCE
The thought of doing something over and over again does not scare you. Even in the result of failure, you try to improve and test yourself again. Get knocked down? You get back up and fight!
DRIVE
You are ambitious. Mediocrity is not an option—in fact, it scares you. You hold a constant desire to improve until you are the best. Drive best shows itself when you achieve a hard-earned goal. Instead of complacency, you raise the bar and begin to work for a bigger and greater goal.
FOCUS
When there’s a task at hand, everything else is blocked out. Distractions don’t exist to someone extremely focused. You simply plow right through the

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Over-40 Fitness

Expert advice for over-40 athletes about training, supplementation, nutrition, hormones, and more.
By Jay Campbell and Jim Brown
Many people stop lifting weights when they get in their 40s, believing that the Iron Game is meant for young people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, the older you get the more important weight training becomes for maintaining strength, body composition, optimal hormone levels, vitality, and overall quality of life. In this new column, our over-40 fitness experts will help you train your age. That is, wisely but with intensity and purpose. Jay Campbell is a longtime Iron Man columnist and author of the book The Definitive Testosterone Replacement Therapy Manual: How To Optimize Your Testosterone For Lifelong Health And Happiness. Jim Brown is a bodybuilding expert and trainer who has helped thousands of people achieve their goals.
Dennis: What does being sore after a workout represent? If I’m not sore in the specific muscles I trained, was my workout productive?
Jay and Jim: To us, being sore is a very useful diagnostic tool. We adjust workout intensity and volume based on current recovery ability. If training for hypertrophy, we can all agree that some soreness in the muscle trained is generally good. The more times we can train a muscle the more we can induce protein synthesis. This forces the body to change in response to current demands. Doing this over and over enables more growth to occur.
Let’s say you work legs once a week and destroy them (defined as it’s difficult to sit on the toilet). Will you recover fully in seven days? A better question is: Would you see more growth by working that muscle just enough to force adaptation? If you can do that twice a week, you should grow that muscle group faster.
In general, when

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THE LION ROARS

Expert advice to your questions about training, nutrition, recovery, and living the fitness lifestyle.
By Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes
 
Brandon: I’ve read anti-inflammatories inhibit recovery from exercise. Does this apply to all anti-inflammatories or only certain kinds? I’m concerned I might be limiting my muscle gains, since I take them a lot to manage the pain from old injuries.
Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes: Great question! Some years back, there were rodent studies that demonstrated a significant reduction in hypertrophy when they were given NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) versus a placebo. For the rodents, the hypertrophy gains were diminished by about 50 percent.
However, the same results never panned out in humans. One study that seemed to “prove” that NSAIDS inhibited muscle growth as never replicated again, which generally means the study results are bunk. Other studies later showed an increase in muscle hypertrophy, but these studies also used untrained or elderly subjects, so that has to be considered as well.
Overall, the current body of evidence is murky and I can’t say that it isn’t possible that taking NSAIDS could inhibit muscle growth. At the same time, though, if you consider the anecdotal evidence, there hundreds of thousands, likely millions even, of recreational lifters who use NSAIDS, and they have all built muscle mass. I can personally attest to knowing many professional physique athletes who use NSAIDS, and I cannot say it has hurt their muscular development in the slightest.
So at this point in time, I feel comfortable saying that they are safe to take and won’t hurt your gains.
 
Blake: What supplements do you recommend? I’ve been training for six years, and I’ve made gains in muscle mass and definition, but I’ve started to question if all the supplements I’ve gotten have really done anything significant. I went on a “stag vacation” for a

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THE LION ROARS

Expert advice to your questions about training, nutrition, recovery, and living the fitness lifestyle.
Chris: Is there an ideal length/method for fat-burning cardio? I’ve been mixing basketball, biking, and walking for 30 minutes a day. Should I be doing more or something different?
Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes: Over the course of a fat-loss phase of dieting, I’d generally recommend refraining from using cardio as means for fat loss for as long as possible. Once you begin using it, though, cardio for burning body fat is a question of sustainability more than it is any single method of cardio being “best.”
If you’re using cardio to sustain a calorie deficit, then aerobic cardio is generally going to be the most manageable. It’s low impact, can be done a variety of ways, and is the least depleting energy-wise.
If you’re trying to rapidly increase body fat loss  however, and want to tap into stored fat in the most time-efficient way possible, then interval training or high-intensity interval training would be your best options. Intervals and HIIT can create a powerful metabolic effect, but these workouts are very draining and generally can’t be done more than three times a week.
Thomas: Are there any supplements that I can take help to burn body fat, other than caffeine?  
AJAC: Yes, absolutely there are. While fat loss is a question of diet, it would be short-sighted to say that there are no supplements that can speed up the process. As a disclaimer, there is no quantifiable way to say “how much” any of the following supplements increase fat burning in the real world, but they definitely work. This is also not medical advice of any kind. That prefaced, the following are very effective fat burners.
Yohimbine—Yohimbine done with fasted cardio can be a powerful fat-burning tactic, but be aware:  Yohimbine

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Intention Versus Motivation

When it comes to changing your body, ideas are cheap. Execution is the hard part.
By Thomas DeLauer
So many of us get inspired daily. We look on Instagram and we see the physiques that we admire and we tell ourselves that is precisely what we want out of life and exactly what we want to look like. We spend the next few hours riding an emotional high that is created merely from the idea of starting something that may create a desired outcome.
You see, we as humans are excitable. We love to get fired up about an idea and not think about the actual execution of that idea. In fact, it is more fun to embrace the idea of something than it is to actually take the steps necessary to make it a reality.
In the world of social media, we deal with this more than ever. Why? Because every single day we are flooded with images and status updates that remind us on a surface level of what we want to achieve. Crazy enough, since the advent of social media, obesity rates are continuing to climb and more people are suffering from metabolic diseases, depression, and anxiety than ever before.
Now I’m not a clinical psychologist, nor do I even play one on TV, but I can say that chasing a constant stream of ideas and never executing on them could certainly allow you to feel depressed or anxious. This is why it’s important that we learn the difference between an idea, a goal, and a solid intention, especially when it comes our fitness endeavors.
Let’s take a look at each of these concepts (or at least how I view them) and how they pertain to fitness.
The Idea
We see a post on Instagram. It’s a guy with a shredded six-pack, and he’s

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