Character Values of a Champion

By Terry Grant

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made
from something they have deep inside them:
A desire, a dream, a vision.”

– Muhammad Ali

“When your values are clear to you,
making decisions becomes easier.”
                                              – Roy Oliver Disney

So you want to pack on pounds of rock-solid muscle! That’s your desire… your dream…your vision. You sit there and just imagine what it would be like to look as tough as Ali, as solid as Frank Zane, or as Herculean as Steve Reeves… or whoever it is you admire.

“Oh how different my life would be if only I could look like that!” you may wonder. “All the girls would want me then. I’d be rich, famous, and cool. I would be the envy of all men and finally win the respect and admiration that I rightfully deserve.”

“Too bad my genetics suck, I’ve always been skinny.”

“If only I was younger/older/richer and had the time to dedicate to training”

“I’ve tried everything and still can’t gain an ounce of muscle.”

“Oh yeah, and you have to take steroids to look like those guys.”

“I eat tons of food and still can’t grow. It’s hard eating that much food.”

“Nothing I do seems to work for me. I guess I just can’t gain any muscle.”

“I’m a hardgainer… that’s all there is to it… I give up!”

Well there you go! You know you’re right… your genetics do really suck. You don’t have the time anyway, and besides, after all, you are a hardgainer. No hardgainer has ever been successful.

There isn’t a chance in hell that you’ll be able to achieve any significant muscle gains. So yeah, you’re probably doing the right thing by throwing in the towel. I mean why waste all of this hard work and effort on something that’s totally out of your reach anyway. You gave it a shot and it didn’t work out. Now, you’re just being realistic.

I mean that’s what a CHAMPION would do right?


First of all, champions don’t give up… they may fail to reach a goal or lose a match, but they never give up. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn their lessons and then act accordingly. A champion realizes that there is no such thing as failure until you have truly given up. If you never give up, then each setback, each problem, or any disappointment you face is simply another lesson… another test of your true character.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is important to be realistic about what you can achieve… if by realistic you mean truthful and accurate in your interpretation of reality.

For example, if you are an ectomorph and training drug-free it is very unrealistic to think you can train and eat to become the size of a modern professional bodybuilder like Jay Cutler.

a picture of Jay Cutler on the Olympia stage in 2009

I remember reading a story about him where he stated that the first time he bench pressed he was able to lift 315 lbs. True or not… I’m not so sure. However, it’s possible though, especially when you consider that he is a 5’9” with near-perfect bodybuilding genetics. Jay typically weighs 250-280 lbs at contest and 280-320 lbs off season. Plus, it’s almost a given that he’s a lil’ heavy on the juice (and I ain’t talking fruit juice!) He still worked hard to achieve his body though. So I give him credit for what he’s accomplished.

All is not lost though if you do not have the perfect genetics and want to train naturally. It’s important to realize that no matter what your genetics or situation you can still add muscle to your frame. It’s not unrealistic to gain anywhere from 15-75lbs of muscle or more… depending on what age you start training and how disciplined you are willing to be. We’ll talk more about this when I get to goal setting. The point I’m trying to make is… yes be realistic… but also remember that a champion also has to be somewhat idealistic or optimistic in what they can and will achieve with their lives.

Remember, as Ali alluded to in the opening quote, a champion has a dream and a vision in their mind and that dream and vision is so strong, so compelling, and so real to them that they will stop at absolutely nothing until that desire has been realized. You see they’ve made it real in their minds and so it is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality in their physical world.

Finally, Champions don’t think self-defeating thoughts like the ones listed above. In all honesty, they may have at some point in their lives, but at that point they were not considered champions. At some defining moment in their lives, the true champion recognizes that negative thoughts only work to defeat and limit you to what you can become. It is at that point that they release the need to think about any other outcome except for the outcome they desire. If a negative thought comes into their mind, they quickly drop it and replace it with a positive one.

You must understand that any statement you make to yourself or out loud is an affirmation to the universe about who you are. Ali didn’t say “I’m okay!” or “I’m pretty good!” No, he screamed “I’m the greatest!”

So decide for yourself, right now, what you want to be.

Do you want to be a hardgainer or do you want to be a champion? If you choose to be a champion, then drop the hardgainer mantra and excuses right now. They will only hold you back from being what you can become.

a picture of Frank Zane who was a known hardgainer who won Mr Olympia 2 times

Drop the Hardgainer Delusion Once and For All

What? The hardgainer delusion… Are you trying to say there’s no such thing as a hardgainer? After all, this is You guys of all people should know about the plight of the hardgainer… our inability to gain muscle mass no matter how much we eat… no matter how hard we train… no matter how relentlessly we try. How can you call it the hardgainer delusion? I’m not deluded… am I?

Calm down “skinny”…. You’re burning too many calories!

Here’s the truth: YES, there are hardgainers are NO, you’re not deluding yourself.

Here’s another truth: NO, there are not hardgainers, and YES, you are deluding yourself.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you… let me break it down!

Everybody, and by everybody I mean any average joe or jane without some debilitating disease or condition, can gain muscle. Yes, everyone is unique and there are different body types, which cause some people to have more or less difficulty in adding muscular size. For example, the ectomorph (due to their inherent genetic make-up) has a more challenging time gaining muscle than say the mesomorph or endomorph. So, if there truly are hardgainers out there, the ectomorph somatotype would fit the bill of being a “true” hardgainer.

That being said, it is not impossible for an ectomorph to rapidly gain muscle mass if they understand the reasons why their genetics are inferior for muscle growth compared to the other somatotypes and take the appropriate measures to overcome those limitations. In other words, the ectomorph must train and eat in a way that is congruent with his body type. In doing so, one will prevail over any inherited shortcomings and will be able to create an athletic and muscular physique that maximizes their genetic potential.

There are two problems with using the term hardgainer to define your self. First of all, it can be used as an excuse or blaming mechanism to shift responsibility away from your self. Secondly, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that will keep you small and weak for life.

Many “normal” people underestimate the dedication, discipline, and hard work that goes into building a champion physique. Combine that with our “we want it yesterday” mindset that is so prevalent in the world today and some people easily become frustrated at their lack of progress.

Instead, of accepting responsibility and grasping the fact that their lack of results stem from something (or a lot of things) that they are either doing (or not doing)… they choose to blame their genetics and cry out with desperation… “I must be a hardgainer!” Now they’ve officially shifted the blame off of themselves and put it on their parents.

In reality, the reason why they aren’t gaining muscle is related to their training, nutrition, recovery, or mindset habits. One or more of the four pillars needs some fine-tuning, which means they will have to recognize that the problem is really with themselves and make the appropriate changes to their lifestyle. Changing your habits can be hard work, so it’s a lot easier to just blame mom and dad.

Now let’s look at the second issue with labelling yourself a hardgainer. Not only is the hardgainer identity a convenient excuse for your crappy results, it also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you identify with and call yourself a hardgainer, the more you actually become one.

a picture of Frank Zane posing in the sun

As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you can or can’t… either way you’re right.”

How do you expect to gain muscle rapidly when you are constantly telling yourself that you are a hardgainer or have bad genetics or can’t succeed or any of the negative statements listed at the beginning of this article?

You will never succeed if you continue to harbour and affirm such negative, self-defeating thoughts. It is weak thoughts like these that are keeping you small and weak. If you want to be big and strong you must think big, strong, powerful thoughts.

“You become what you think about” –Napoleon Hill

You’re going to hear this a lot on this website, and the sooner you truly grasp this fact and understand that this is the key to living a fulfilling life… the sooner you will be able to totally transform your body and life into anything you imagine.

“With your thoughts you make the world” –The Buddha

If you read lots of personal development books like I do or any other life-changing works you will come to realize that this is one of the most common themes that has been repeated in some form or another throughout history. Those who have achieved great success in life or have reached any state of enlightenment have been pounding this into our heads for years. Unfortunately, so few grasp the ultimate reality of this concept and apply it to their lives. Even the bible says “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Oh, you mean they weren’t talking about farming?

If you sow the thoughts, words, and actions of a skinny hardgainer, then how on Earth can you possibly expect to reap the body of a champion? If you want to be a champion and have a champion’s physique then you MUST have the thoughts, values, and beliefs of a champion. For it is from your thoughts, values, and beliefs that you take the necessary actions required to attain such results.

Anything else is simply a delusion you’ve fabricated in your own mind. So, while the ectomorph does have some genetic challenges to overcome, the reality is that YOU CAN build a lean, muscular physique if you are willing to do what it takes. The question you must ask yourself is… are YOU willing to do what it takes?

Choose to be a Champion

As Steve Pavlina wrote in his blog post entitled Living Your Values, “Values act as our compass to put us back on course every single day, so that day after day, we’re moving in the direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the “best” life we could possibly live.”

If you want to have a champion’s physique and live your life to the fullest you must become extremely clear on what it will take to make your vision a reality. That’s what this website’s all about. Yet the knowledge of how to do something is never the same thing as actually doing it. Your knowledge is useless unless you have the heart of a champion and are willing to apply it and live it… and this applies as much to me as it does to you.

Remember, I’m not talking down to you on a perch from high above. These are the challenges and experiences I’m going through as I work to attain my own champion physique and fulfilling life.

And one thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to have a clear vision in your mind and remember that a champion will not stop until his vision has been realized. Trust me; life is going to throw all types of adversity, challenges, and unfathomable circumstances at you to test your will. These tests are there to see if you truly want to live your vision or if you’re just talking frivolously. Those that are not serious and that just think it would be nice to have a great physique will not make it through the swamp or the great divide that separates the dreamers from the doers.

It is only when we’re willing to crawl through the mud, get our hands dirty and push ourselves to keep going that we will pass these tests. There will be times we can’t even see the other side anymore, when it looks hopeless, when it looks like it’s going to be too much for us to handle… that’s when we’ll have to dig deeper than we ever imagined and keep our vision engrained within our minds.

It’s in these times that you’ll have to remain focused when everything seems so unclear. You’ll have to remain calm and optimistic… despite the fury of negativity that surrounds you. You’ll have to remain confident, disciplined, and persistent… despite the pain and doubt urging you to give up and give in. You’ll have to stick to your guns, when everybody is luring you away from your post. For it is in these moments, when your true face will be revealed; it is in these moments when your character is tested and your true values emerge; it is in these dark and unpleasant moments when a champion is either born into the world or dies to what he or she could have been.

Terry Grant

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