Tip: 5 Foundational Steps to Training Success

Reaching your physique or performance goal is about more than sets, reps, and exercises. Here's how to get your mindset right.

There are five steps that will help you build mental toughness and reach any goal:

1 – Write a Mission Statement

Create a mission statement that gets you pumped up. Take the time to consider your "why." If you have a powerful reason why, you can get through anything. Make this reason your mission statement and repeat it to yourself during your training. Any time you catch yourself slacking, questioning your motivation, or feeling like you want to quit, repeat your mission statement.

2 – Have a Positive Mindset

Every day, there's a dialogue going on in your mind. These thoughts are usually a mixture of outside stimuli and your beliefs about yourself. Some will be negative. To develop mental toughness, you must focus on the ones that make you feel better about yourself. You'll be hard-pressed to find a successful person who doesn't practice this. If you even think you can't do something, you simply won't do it.

3 – Use Positive Self-Talk

Be your own coach. Speak to yourself in the second person with statements like, "You're going to give this everything you've got." It can stir up that extra bit of motivation a real coach would provide. It also allows you to control what kind of encouragement your "coach" gives. You may respond better to one kind of advice than another in certain scenarios.

4 – Get in The Zone

"The mind gives up long before the body ever does." Top class athletes respond to stress with a reduction in brainwave activity that's similar to meditation. The average person responds to stress with an increase in brainwave activity that's similar to panic (stress).

This is an example of how getting into the "zone" – the cool-headed state that allows a person to perform optimally even under high-pressure conditions – can make a big difference in performance. Achieving this state and holding on to it despite distractions, pain, and your own instincts to give in for the sake of self-preservation, is the essence of mental toughness. The best athletes train their brains to be as tough as their bodies.

5 – Use Visualization

Before you even step under the bar for a squat or pick up a dumbbell, your set should be mentally done. Imagine the steps you'll take to get into position and the way your body will look performing the movement. Rehearse each rep in your mind. Think about how that'll feel to you. Because it's already been done in your mind, all you have to do is repeat it with your body.

Michael Warren won the UK Personal Trainer of the Year award (2014). He is the owner of Michael Warren Performance Education, and has trained a number of professional athletes and teams. Follow Michael Warren on Twitter