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Mental Toughness With L-Train

IFBB Pro Bodybuilder

Lionel Brown also known as L-Train has been competing as an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder for 14 years. His passion for bodybuilding took off at the young age of 13, when he was attentive to his father’s workouts. Growing up in Long Beach, California L-Train has been a California native his entire life. When I interviewed him, he shared his insight as a former childhood athlete, insight to his family life, his inspiration to his sport, how he implements healthy training among his clients, and how he has always worked hard to maintain a healthy mindset to optimize his sport performance.

Mental mindset is one of the most difficult processes to maintain for many athletes in and out of sport competition. For many professional bodybuilders, a positive mindset can quickly change after the loss in competition. It is not uncommon for athletes at all levels of sport, to go into training for sport competition with anxiety and a lack of growth mindset. Typically, athletes who have a fixed mindset, have a difficult time with change. This process can cause individuals to resist improvement and challenges that are designed to encourage an athlete to be successful in one’s athletic career.

On the other-hand, mental health complications develop among individuals who are unable to identify when a lack of positive reinforcement should be used to motivate oneself away from negative self-talk, which can lead an athlete into serious anxiety and depression. However, L-Train identified the importance for mental mindset and signs of mental health complications when he became a professional bodybuilder. Although all athletes have up’s and down’s throughout one’s athletic careers, L-Train has worked hard to identify triggers that causes him to get in a mental displacement, and due to his growth mindset, he is equipped to turn his mental stressors around, by identifying his purpose, reason, and passion for what he does as a professional athlete.

Questions I asked L-Train

  • Do you use mental mindset techniques during competition?

Absolutely. It is always about the mind!

  • What types of mental techniques do you use to perform at your best?

Imagery techniques. I often think of my grandmother watching me perform, she was always my hero. When I thought about her while training, her words of encouragement and the strong woman she was, it was like the pain from the lactic acid build up would just disappear.  She took it all away for me. She always instilled confidence in me as a young kid.

  • Do you allow yourself to go out: Drink, unhealthy eating, sleep less, etc.?

Yes, of course. I must live and must have fun. It is important for mental health. We all need this. If you stay on this plan, when your body adjusts, you can get away with certain things. If you train yourself year around, you can do this.

  • What is your mindset during competition?

Destroy them all! Stay focused and work hard!

  • What are your pep talks before competition?

I must go for the kill. They cannot take this food away from my family. I've got this!

  • If you do not place in a competition (unsuccessful), how is your mindset?

I’m a realist. I go back to my hotel and have these talks with myself and think, the plane ride is going to be a long one! When I get off the plane, I jump into my car and I go straight to Target or Walmart and buy junk food. I get home and I just sit there and eat all the food I just bought, and think to myself, what just happened! Not happy with my performance, I continue eating. I just lay down and don’t get up for two days. I take these days as down time. I eat that food to mentally feel better, getting the carbs back into the body that have been depleted. I have self-doubt, but I catch myself thinking down on myself, therefore I always use positive reinforcement to get me back up and get moving. After those first two days, I am back in the gym and doing what I love.

  • How do you get back up on your own?

It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I find my motivation in why I do what I do. I'm in it for the long haul, not doing this for immediate results.

  • How do you train others to understand how to find motivation?

I tell my clients, if you do not see the light in how better you can come from failure, this isn’t for you, it won’t be a good process.

  • Tell me your views on addictions: Substance abuse, overtraining, etc. How do you navigate through this process?

A lot of individuals have a hard time through this process. Unfortunately, athletes can be misguided on this topic, and can be due to them not knowing what they are doing or lack of truth and knowledge. For many, supplemental use can cause mental problems to occur.

  • Do you apply various mindset techniques?

Of course I do. When you do legs or squats, you are heavy breathing. I must calm myself down. I do a lot of breathing techniques to help calm myself down. When I am driving, I might have some anxiety or stressors, I have weird breathing that comes about, therefore I use breathing techniques to calm myself down. Self-talk, I think about things that bring me joy, like my children and family.

  • Do you feel mindset techniques improve your sport performance?

Absolutely! No-doubt!

  • Is sports psychology something positive that bodybuilders should use?

Anytime you are involving yourself in vigorous amounts of training, of course talking to someone in that field would help. Why wouldn’t I utilize that resource? It can help a lot! I would encourage athletes to use these resources.

  • How would you encourage others to become a successful bodybuilder?

Write a plan out. Go into detail of how you are going to approach this. What do you want out of this? Think of your goals, and work in increments to accomplish them over a period of time. All failure to motivate you to do better.

  • What is the difference of a casual bodybuilder vs. a professional bodybuilder?

Some people want to be a bodybuilder until it’s time to actually be one. This means, putting in the long hours, weeks, and months of training nutritionally, resting and recovering, and working out to put yourself into a competition. These things help define you as a professional bodybuilder. The process is instilled in us and we continue to have that motivation to work hard each day, to get back onto the next stage and compete again.

L-Train provided great insight for his passion as a professional bodybuilder and leads by example today, as he trains his clients around the U.S. Mental mindset is one of the most important factors while training the body for any type of change. Whether it be casual lifting, working out to lose weight, or training for a competition, L-Train demonstrates the importance of keeping a healthy mindset to all individuals he works with. Afterall, it is key to one’s success! I enjoyed covering this topic with L-Train and know that he is a great role model for many individuals in-and-out of his profession. He currently trains athletes in sports and fitness in Southern California. To view more about him, please visit his website at or visit him on Instagram at ltrainbrown

Interviewed by: Cheryl McCormick, M.S.S.

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