How To Stay Motivated

Almost anyone can find the motivation to plan a workout routine. And most people can even find the willpower necessary to go out to the gym, buy a pass, and begin working out. It’s that extra ounce of motivation and willpower that allow you to go beyond these simple initial steps and actually continue working out over the long term. To find the motivation to go back to the gym multiple times each week, to eat properly every day, and to maintain the lifestyle necessary for muscle growth is one of the most difficult aspects of bodybuilding.

In fact, during my years of training, I’ve come across very few people who have actually been able to maintain a non-stop training regimen. Not surprisingly, those that haven’t given up and have stayed motivated for years are the ones who have achieved the greatest muscle building success. The question you’re probably asking yourself, then, is “how do I stay motivated?”

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question.  There are a number of methods that I’ve used over the years and that are generally considered successful. Nothing is going to work 100% for any person, and you can’t expect to go for months without periods of laziness or lethargy. That being said, here are a few basic guidelines for staying motivated:

  1.  Take things one day at a time. It’s important to focus on what’s here and now. Today, you need to eat six meals. Today, you need to go to the gym and work out your legs. Tonight, you need to get eight hours of sleep. This weekend, you need to watch your alcohol consumption. When you wake up each morning, remind yourself of the bodybuilding tasks that must be achieved that day. Don’t think about how many workouts you’ll have to have in the next month, and don’t ever tell yourself that eating or working out is a pain in the ass.

  2. Try to embrace the pain and discomfort of bodybuilding. If you can convince yourself that the more pain you subject yourself to the more you will grow, you’ll end up embracing the pain inherent to muscle building. (Of course, I’m referring to mild physical pain and emotional stress – not injuries or actually subjecting yourself to undue harm). Try to think of the pain associated with all-out training as the key to achieving your goals. When that last rep is causing you immense discomfort, convince yourself that the pain is directly correlated to muscle growth. Same thing when you’re forcing down that last bite of tuna. Each ounce of discomfort will lead to an ounce of muscle.

  3. Check your perfectionist attitude at the door. Don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by setbacks. Bodybuilding is a journey with no end and no perfect result. You will encounter injuries and problems and other setbacks, but this is to be expected. If you think of your muscle building journey as a graph, it will have a general upward trend – but there will obviously be dips and downfalls along the way. You simply can’t afford to let these downfalls get you down and ruin your motivation for good. 

Keeping these general ways of thinking in mind, here are a few down-to-earth examples of how you can boost your motivation during a lull or period of laziness:

  1. Take pictures of yourself before you begin workout out (or take one right now, even if you’re in the midst of a program. Keep measurements and pictures close by. Whenever you feel unmotivated or lazy, look at the pictures – they should remind you of the reason you’re in the gym in the first place. Maybe you’re skinny, maybe you’re fat, or maybe you’re just not happy with the way you look: whatever it is, these pictures should remind you of what you’re trying to accomplish.

  2. Scour the internet for quality motivational resources. Find articles that motivate you and bookmark them. Buy a quality bodybuilding package that contains some good motivational materials (Sean Nalewanyj’s program is full of stuff – articles, videos, and an entire mini-book on the “inner game” of bodybuilding). Refer to these articles before a workout, or whenever you feel your motivation sagging.

  3. Keep a workout playlist, and play these songs for a boost in energy and motivation. It may seem obvious, but many people don’t do this. Music can be a great motivator, whether it’s hard rock or classical. Choose what works for you, and play this. Don’t be afraid to turn up the volume and yell at the top of your lungs.

  4. Find yourself a training partner. Ah yes, I’ve saved the best for last – a training partner can make a huge difference in your training motivation. When there’s two people committed to a training schedule, it’s much easier to stay dedicated. Even on days where your motivation is sagging, chances are your partner won’t be experiencing the same thing. Before you begin training together, make sure you agree to push one another to stay focused and continue with the program.

As I mentioned before, long-term motivation can often be very elusive. If you can master your motivation and stay dedicated, you’re almost guaranteed success (so long as your program itself is quality). Recognize that you will have periods of laziness and depression, and fight through them as best you can. Trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.