Whether a person has been training for three weeks, three months, three years, or three decades, I have found that most bodybuilders are extremely confident that they have a great training strategy working for them.

I believe this assumption is a big mistake! Training is much too complex a subject for this supposition. Adopting this belief structure can seriously damage your progress as a bodybuilder. The worst part about overestimating your training knowledge is not merely short-term lack of progress; this way of thinking can hamper your evolution as a bodybuilder the entire length of time you participate in this lifestyle. As I stated before, the frustration that such a mindset usually generates is what makes too many lifters give up bodybuilding, or at the least, prevents them from giving their best effort. You could find yourself much later looking down a series of wrong roads in the wrong city, so to speak, as I sometimes do when following driving directions.

The trick to handling the challenges of this sport is devising a sensible plan to break them down into smaller, bite-size pieces.

There are too many different factors and variables for you to feel as though you ever know it all. Let's take training your shoulders for example: You could train them once a week or twice. You could even train them once every other week. You could train them very heavily, moderately, or lightly. You could put extra focus on the negative movement. You could pearform a high number of repetitions or very few. You could train with a partner or alone. You could have a person spot you or use only as much weight as you can handle yourself. You could train in the morning, when your natural growth hormone is supposed to be at its highest, or later, when your closest rival is there to motivate you to take your training to the next level. You could train your shoulders after setting a contest date for one year from now, or 12 weeks, or after initiating a "shoulder-building contest" with your buddies. You could train your shoulders while on a high­protein, moderate-protein, or low-protein diet. You could train them with different amounts of carbohydrates in your system or with the many different nutritional supplements available today. Then you switch, mix up, and rotate every single one of these variables for different periods of time.

Would each of these different factors lead to different results in the development of your shoulders? You bet they would! Let me ask you another question: How many times will you try a different strategy on your most stubborn body part before you start calling yourself a hardgainer, or blame poor genetics-or the fact that you don't take drugs for your poor development?

Think about it for a moment: Why do you think there are so many different training philosophies? There must be hundreds of strategies! How many have you tried-honestly? How could you possibly determine the very best one of those hundreds in such a short period of time-if ever?

I have a personal belief that if something goes wrong the first time, I must have made a mistake. Usually, I will continue to think this way for a while or a number of attempts. I try not to blame others for my difficulties or challenges, or at least, not right away. A lot of my friends and family say I am too tough on myself sometimes. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has a saying that I like: "When we get a little tougher on ourselves, life gets a whole lot easier for us."

An empowering belief structure when it comes to training might be something like this:

There is always a more efficient way for me to build my physique. I am committed to finding the very best way-regardless of how long it takes me. I know how well my plan is currently working; there is always a better way to train to earn an even better physique. I will never stop looking and never stop trying to take my body to a higher level of development!