“My friend, I’m not dropping what’s visible here-and-now in pursuit of what’s subject to time. I’m dropping what’s subject to time in pursuit of what’s visible here-and-now.” — Thanissaro Translation
“As Zane sees it, many bodybuilders believe they are concentrating well during a workout when they are not. He says: “It’s not good enough merely to keep your mind on each set you do. I try to visualize each rep doing exactly what I want. I don’t take mental pauses between sets. My mind is deep into my training even though I might be resting my body between sets. I am always preparing myself mentally for what’s coming next and so I cannot allow irrelevant thoughts to steal into my head. Long after my workout is over my mind is still in contact with the training session.
Here is how Zane practices his meditation: “The plan is to empty your head of all thoughts for as long as you wish. You sit down and try to get your mind to go blank. They you take a deep breath and think one; you breathe out, breathe in again and think two, and so on till you get to ten. Try to get up to 30 without a foreign thought coming into your head. When you can count to that figure without your mind straying to some other subject you’ll have mastered the art of concentration. You’ll do your reps without the possibility of interruption by outside influences. And you can take it from me, the ability to keep your mind on your training will make your workouts one hundred percent more effective.”” — Training Strategies of Frank Zane by Rick Wayne (1979)
One of the most important lessons in body development is the principle of concentration. To concentrate as deeply as possible during each repetition of every movement should be strived for. Focus on the muscle you want to target and visualize how you see the muscle taking shape. Treat each and every repetition as the first repetition, always contracting and always in control. Do not allow the mind to go elsewhere—because the mind is just as, if not more important in developing the muscles as the body is—as this is an invitation to going through the motions, not seeing the desired results and essentially ends up being a waste of time.
“If you have ever seen a top-line physique champion train, you would be quick to observe that one of the most important factors in successful bodybuilding is indeed the power of full mental concentration. The secret (well, one of the secrets) of all bodybuilding and lifting champs is the ability to combine physical and mental power. It follows then that extreme mental concentration is a must for the bodybuilder who wishes to climb to the top.
Bodybuilders could certainly learn a lot with regard to the mental aspect of training by observing champions weightlifters. A most powerful sense of mental concentration used in conjunction with with physical strength and skill is perfectly displayed when a weightlifter forces everything from his mind but the lifting of that bar. Some of these men appear to be in a hypnotic trance — so deep is their concentration. And it works!
Now, I’m not suggesting that the bodybuilder or lifter should walk around through his workout like a zombie. But I will say this. By concentrating hard on each rep of every set results will come faster, and believe me nothing keeps the training enthusiasm high like visible RESULTS. I truly believe that the man who adopts a random attitude towards his workout may just as well stay at home and practice calisthenics. We should keep in mind at all times that proper mental attitude and physical response cannot be separated as far as the bodybuilder is concerned. From the very start of your workout until the last rep of the last exercise has been squeezed out, you must not allow your mind to wander. If you have training partners encourage each other during the workout and never engage in heated arguments or distracting discussions of any kind. If you must talk about last night’s TV thriller, wait until you are finished the workout. It is of extreme importance that you get into the habit of being able to concentrate completely on the work at hand. Before you make up your mind that you WILL complete the desired amount of reps and that nothing short of an atomic bomb will distract you. Fight mentally as well as physically to reach your goal. I remember seeing Reg Park performing heavy barbell curls a few years ago and it looked like he was going to bend the bar, so strongly did he grip and vigorously attack it. That’s the kind of physical exertion and mental concentration most of the big names are able to turn on and display.” — George Coates, Intense Mental Concentration: A Must for Best Gains (1974)