Q & A Tuesday 4-19-11 | Motivation

by Chris on April 19, 2011

Today I’m sharing the first of a weekly post I’d like to do where I answer your health and fitness questions. I’m doing this because I want to get more user involvement going on this site, and I feel that this is a nice way to get that going. About a week ago I asked people if they had any questions they’d like to see answered on this site. One excellent response I got from a former client was this: How do you stay motivated to work out all the time?

Motivation is something that many people struggle with when it comes to health and fitness. Believe it or not, I find it difficult to get into the gym frequently. Part of that is the fact that I spend so much time there already, but another part is just plain not being motivated to go hit the weights. Staying motivated to train can be very difficult, but there are a few things I have found that help.

Set goals, both big and small

What’s the reason you’re going to the gym in the first place? If you can’t answer that question then you’re off to a bad start. If your answer is something vague like “get in shape” then you’re not doing much better. At the very least you should have one specific goal you’re training for at a time. That implies that once you reach that goal, you should set another one. I have found, however, that having a few goals is best. For instance, have a long term and a short term goal. I’ll give you an example: For 2010 I wrote down a number of long term goals including deadlifting 400lbs and performing a one arm pullup. But here’s the thing: I had to build up to those. Every time I trained I aimed for a smaller goal. Maybe it was doing weighted chins with a certain amount of weight for a certain amount of reps, and then shooting for one more. Either way, the small goals led me to my big goals.

Set different kinds of goals

One of the things I do with my clients is require (or strongly suggest) they set some kind of performance goal in addition to the usual physique goals. I find this helps keep people motivated better because they have multiple metrics they can track to gauge their progress. Now instead of just looking at the number on the scale as an indicator of your success, you are looking at your overall physical condition. If you can do 20 more pushups now then you used to be able to do, you’re making progress.

Find something or someone who motivates you

Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly unmotivated I turn to Youtube because I know that if I see something particularly inspirational like Ed Coan or Kirk Karwowski training footage it’s going to make me want to go and crush it in the gym. Maybe you have a quote that inspires you or something else along those lines. Find something that inspires you and use it.


You know what? Sometimes you just need to take a day off. If you just don’t feel like heading to the gym, it’s not going to kill you if you take a day. It shouldn’t happen often, but every once in a while it can be a good thing. Lack of motivation is considered a sign of overtraining by some, and a day of rest might be just what you need. All your muscle isn’t going to disappear or fat going to magically appear by taking a day off.

So there are just a few things that help me get into the gym. Leave a comment below and let us know how you stay motivated.

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Brian Wolf April 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Chris I was overweight years ago and dropped 75 lbs, that is my main motivation. But like you I also find things that others can’t do and push myself to accomplish them. By the way for anyone who has never had the pleasure of meeting Chris he is one of the most strong willed, determined people that I know. When he sets a goal he reaches it.

JohnKouts April 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Now that I’ve been back to working out regularly for a while, there are a few things. My main motivation is, no joke, vanity. Seriously, I cant think of many people who don’t want to look good. And part of that is having a body that doesn’t read “I haven’t left this couch in months” in giant letters.

Another is rest like you mentioned, but sometimes to a higher level. For example, I’ve been watching what I eat, trying to avoid lots of crap, but every now and again I find myself breaking my good habits, eating a couple of whoppers and giant Coke, while telling my workout to chill for a bit. After that happens, I’m usually twice as determined to get back into my routine.

Chris April 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Brian thanks for the kind words man. You’ve motivated and inspired me plenty of times.

John you’re 100% right. For most people there is a certain element of vanity included with fitness, and there’s not a thing wrong with that.

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