Introduction Like many people, I came from humble beginnings. I grew up in a very small town in Northern Ontario, Canada, with two working-class parents who, more than anything else, instilled in me the value of having a strong work ethic. I remember coming home from school as a kid with a 90 percent in math and my mother being disappointed. I was naturally gifted at math, so I never had to study. She told me that she wasn't proud of my grade because I didn't work for it. I also remember coming home with a 65 percent in geography and her telling me how proud she was because she knew I'd tried my hardest. I'd studied. The point here is that my mother never focused on the end result. She focused on the amount of work it took to get there. She noticed and rewarded work ethic. And it made me notice and reward it, too. As I grew older, those lessons she taught me formed the basis of the person I am today. I was never a naturally gifted athlete. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I was always the last picked for every team I tried out for, and I was bullied in elementary school and during my first few years of high school. I was uncoordinated, shy, and weak, both mentally and physically. Many of the people I've met in my lifetime have had a hard time believing that I wasn't an athlete. They look at me and make certain assumptions. They see me as supremely confident, a great speaker, and successful in all I do. The reality is that inside of me is a kid who got bullied on the bus ride to school, who was called names, and who was terrified to give public speeches. My story of personal growth and change started when I was 14 years old. You will learn about it in the first section of this book, but without the work ethic my mother instilled in me, none of my successes would have ever happened. Because of that work ethic, I've had many incredible life experiences. I've fought and been victorious in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, I was a highly decorated police officer in the city of Toronto, I'm directly responsible for the success of one of the very best gyms on the entire planet, Gym Jones, and I even have a shoe named after me. I remember dreaming about that when, as a child, I got my first pair of Jordans, and thinking how amazing it would be to have a shoe with my name on it. It feels even better than I imagined. Dreams can come true, but you have to work hard. During my years as an athlete and a professional, I have worked for every accolade I have received, but don't think I didn't look for shortcuts. When you are dedicated, when you are driven and passionate, you'll look for any way to be more successful. I have bought numerous exercise books, spent more money at the nutrition store than anyone should, ordered products advertised on television, and tried every so-called magic exercise that was ever invented. I worked my ass off to find the "secret," and I am writing this book to tell you that the thing I learned is that there is no secret. There is no magic pill. You can't make three easy payments of $9.99 and hope to wake up fit. There's no easy way to get what you really want. You have to work. Millions of people a year go through a cycle of trying to get fit, making very little progress, and regressing back to where they started. Why? They focus on the wrong things. Some people believe that fitness is merely a physical thing. That if you simply go to the gym and eat a little better, you will achieve your goals. I believe the opposite. I believe that real, genuine fitness starts in your mind. It is one of the reasons that there is such an emphasis on psychology in this book. If you can make your mind strong, if you can learn to hack your psychology, then getting your body fit will be easy. The most important muscle you can train sits right between your ears. In this book, you are going to learn about psychology. Specifically, you'll learn how to: 1. Improve your self-image. 2. Rid your life of excuses. 3. Rise above negative voices. 4. Work harder. Then you are going to learn how to train in a way that will make you successful not only in the gym but also in every other aspect of your life. You will learn how to harness the power of hard work, turn yourself into a functional athlete, and reinvent yourself, just like I did. You're going to learn about nutrition and recovery. You will learn strategies to help you eat and sleep better and to more effectively deal with your life stress. I'm going to help you become not only fitter but also healthier. Throughout this book, I am going to use true stories to teach you all of these lessons. Woven into each chapter is a story of a person who has inspired me. I'll tell you about the friend or person I have been fortunate enough to work with and who has successfully used the information I am providing you with. I hope that their stories inspire you like they inspired me. I'll also share some of my personal stories and "Bobby's Laws," which I live by every day. I hope the lessons you learn here will help you to achieve the success you deserve so you can craft your own story and laws and, in turn, inspire others. Finally, included in this book is a full training program to follow and a bank of my favorite workouts. In fact, in Section V: The Maximus Manual (see page 149), I provide you with more than 100 of the most-effective workouts in the world. They are simple but certainly not easy. Remember that there is no easy path to your success, no shortcut, and no magic pill. But with old-fashioned hard work, and some passion for what you do, you will be successful. Section 1: Psychology You probably think that the hardest part about exercise is the physical work: the lifting, running, and sweating. You couldn't be more wrong. I've spent more than 20 years either as a professional athlete or as a trainer of professional athletes and special forces soldiers, and I've come to believe otherwise. Looking back on my own sports career and seeing exactly what makes the people I train successful, I've come to one conclusion: Fitness starts in your mind. The quickest, most-effective--and, unfortunately, brutal--method I have to demonstrate that the mind is primary in fitness takes just 60 seconds. I use it on anyone who needs to quickly learn how powerful the mind can be, and I always close each of the fitness seminars I teach with the test. Before I give the test at seminars, I ask the group--usually anywhere from 20 to 40 people--two simple questions: "Do you believe in yourself?" and "Are you willing to work hard?" Invariably, when I ask that question, every single person says, "Yes, of course." The 1-minute fan bike challenge is the litmus test. I wheel a fan bike out into the middle of the gym floor. Then, I scribble each person's name on a big whiteboard in the gym, and jot a number next to their names. I explain to the group: That's how many calories each of you has to burn in 1 minute. If you don't, you try again until you do. Once people see the number by their names, they look terrified, like they're lining up to face a firing squad. In general, 1 minute of jogging burns about 10 calories, a minute of weight lifting burns about 8, and a minute of yoga burns about 5. Raw, unfiltered effort on a fan bike can burn far more. I often ask extremely fit people to burn more than 80 calories, which are calculated by the bike's computer. I even ask people of average fitness to burn 50 or more. I once asked a 65-year-old man to burn 30 calories. My personal record is 89 calories. It still hurts to think about it. If you truly work hard and go all out in the test, you'll hit your calorie goal, or even burn a calorie or two above your goal. If you don't try hard enough, you'll fail--and there's no other excuse beyond that. Done right, this test forces you to work harder than you ever have in your life. I've seen people vomit afterward. I've seen them hobble around dazed, jabbing at their legs for 15 minutes. I saw one guy cry, and another go outside and sit in silence for an hour afterward. (If you want to try this for yourself but you don't have a fan bike, see "What If You Don't Have a Fan Bike?" on page 4.) You may think this test sounds cruel, but the discomfort is worth it--once the burning in your lungs and acid in your legs go away, you understand the power of hard work and feel just how valuable 1 single minute of your best effort can be. You see the number of calories you just burned in a minute, and you begin to fathom what you're capable of. Then, I hope, you start to wonder what else can I do if I just work harder and believe in myself? Psychological barriers block people from reaching their goals. If you're like the vast majority of people, you probably go to the gym for one of three reasons: to become more fit to do the things you love, to become healthier, or to look better naked. For you to get in shape, you may think the answer is easy: Show up to the gym, do some exercise, and go home. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. To get fit and achieve your goals, you have to do much more than just show up and slog through the motions. We all know a person who says they work out three or four times a week but hasn't changed in 3 years. Investigate what that person actually does in a workout, and you'll usually find there is a severe lack of hard work--he texts and looks at Instagram, he only does weight exercises that feel comfortable, and if he's running, it's at a slow speed. He's probably done the same few workouts for years. If that reminds you of yourself, that's okay, because we're going to change that. The people who become fit and stay fit are different. They don't have secret exercises or eat some "superfood," and they don't take a magic fitness pill. Above all else, they have a solid work ethic. The most successful people show up, yes. But when they're there, they work harder than most everyone else. They believe, and they don't quit, make excuses, or take shortcuts. After their workouts, they pay attention to their fitness outside of the gym by doing other things that help them improve, like eating right and sleeping enough. All of those habits are built by that muscle in your skull. That's precisely why training should improve your mind first. If you build a strong mind that powers hard work and dedication, then all this "fitness stuff" is easy. Your workouts are reduced to picking shit up and putting it down, and placing one foot in front of the other. If I only have a weekend with you--like I do with people in my fitness seminars--the fan-bike test is the best way I can demonstrate this fact. But you and I have an entire book together. In this section, I'm going to break down four things that are paramount to getting your mind right: * Improving your self-image * Ridding yourself of excuses * Silencing negative voices * Learning why the hard road is better The result: You'll learn why your mind is the primary driver of just how fit you can get, and you'll learn to hack your psychology to improve your body and performance across the board. Over the course of my fitness career, I've used these four rules to incite radical mental and physical changes in everyone from pro athletes to average Joes. Real fitness starts here. HOW DO I KNOW HOW MANY CALORIES YOU CAN BURN IN A MINUTE? When I administer the 1-minute fan-bike challenge, I give each person an individual calorie goal. So, for example, I might assign you a goal of 60 calories, while I may give your friend only 50. How do I calculate that figure for each person? When I work with you, I notice what you do in the gym and how you do it. I pay attention to how you move weight, and how you breathe under distress. I've taken hundreds of 1-minute tests myself. My calculations are more an art than a science, but I'm rarely wrong. In fact, I'm within a calorie of the person's finishing number about 9 out of 10 times. I always set the bar exactly where it should be, and it's always higher than you think it should be. To find your own true potential, take the test once every 2 weeks. Each time, throw yourself completely on the fire, and give it your all. Try to improve your score each time. Eventually, you'll figure out what you are capable of. WHAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FAN BIKE? The all-out minute test puts you through a mental and physical crucible that's unlike anything you've ever done. If you truly go all out, you'll come out on the other side a changed person. I use a fan bike and give people an individual calorie target. But if you don't have a fan bike, you can see the exact same benefit from these two variations of the test. A good way to gauge if you're going hard enough is that you should want to quit about 20 seconds in, then you just have to hang on and keep going your hardest. Try it, feel some discomfort, and overcome your mental demons. 1-MINUTE SPRINT Go to a track and set a timer for 60 seconds. When the timer starts, take off and run as fast as you possibly can until the time expires. You should aim to complete one 400-meter lap in that minute. That's well within reach for any adult male (for women, I ask for about 350 meters). If you can't do it, you have some mental work to do, even if you think it's a physical problem. To keep improving, simply go farther every time you take this test. 1-MINUTE ROW Program a rower's timer for 1 minute, and set the screen so that it displays meters rowed. Row as hard as you can until the minute is up. Try to get as many meters as possible. Aim for a minimum of 350 meters. Excerpted from Men's Health Maximus Body: The Physical and Mental Training Plan That Shreds Your Body, Builds Serious Strength, and Makes You Unstoppably Fit by Bobby Maximus, Michael Easter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.