the joy of strength training


June 11th, 2009 at 11:15 am

Boost your motivation

weighlifter straining hard
Photo credit: Jon Tunnell

Most of us have felt a lack of motivation at some point, no matter how dedicated we are or how much we love training. Occasionally things just don’t go well, or life starts to interfere with training. It’s easy to berate yourself but this only reinforces the negative feelings that made you feel bad in the first place. You need your mojo back!

Here are five ways I have used to get my motivation back when its gone walkabout. What do you use?

Online training log

Starting a training log online is great for people who want ongoing support and positive reinforcement – or a kick up the backside! Find a website where lots of other people are training in a similar way to you.

If you’ve already got a training log, spend some time looking back through it to see how far you’ve come. Use your log actively as a training aid, not just a passive record of each training session. It’ll make you feel good about what you’ve achieved and spur you on to greater heights.

Forum suggestions:

Join in an online challenge

This suits people who have a competitive streak and want to focus in on something particular, whether it is losing weight or increasing pull ups.

The relatively short timescale of a challenge (they can be anything from a week to three months) can help to get over a rough patch and give a purpose to training. It is not usually a long term solution for all round fitness but can give you your spark back.

Ideas to get you started:

Get a friend involved or join a class

If you start things enthusiastically but give up too easily, this is a great solution. If you’ve got a regular club night to go to, or you’ve promised someone else you will be there for them, it is much harder to back out. Plus you can support each other.

I used to belong to British Military Fitness and I can’t tell you the number of times I got out there and trained when I really didn’t feel like it, because I had the motivation of a class to go to. Plus the social side was fun!

Set yourself a goal

Again very useful if you tend to get bored or give up easily. You don’t have to choose a stern goal like “lose 4 pounds”, it can be something fun like “climb a mountain”. There are many charities running expeditions and challenges. A few examples in the UK are the Three Peaks Challenge, the Welsh 3000s and the South Downs Trailwalker.

Entering a competition is also great way to set a goal. The date is immovable so once you have committed it is harder to back out. For running races and triathlons, try Runner’s World (UK or US). If you want to put your powerlifting skills to the test, check out Powerlifting UK for upcoming events.

Watch an inspiring film

Useful if you need a quick boost although less likely to work long term. But sometimes there’s nothing like a cheesy sports movie to lift the spirits!

Here are some that I’ve enjoyed over the years:
What It Takes – documentary following four elite athletes as they prepare for Ironman Hawaii. Lots of training and race footage!

Overcoming – documentary about the 2004 Tour de France, following Dutch team CSC. Some good extras, especially from the race itself. Would have liked more insight into their training but I guess that’s a state secret!

Chariots of Fire – classic oscar-winning film about two very different athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics. Sunday afternoon epic.

When We Were Kings – documentary about the infamous Ali-Foreman fight known as the Rumble in the Jungle. Great fight footage and fascinating reportage from that febrile time in politics.

Remember the Titans – moving drama about an American football team starring Denzel Washington. Great for ‘team sports’ inspiration.

Boris from SquatRX makes the point that you can’t sit around waiting for motivation to strike, you need to make training a habit. I concur with this but I am sure many of us have had times when training is a bit of a drag. We might still do it, of course, but it feels like a lot of effort!

So what do you do to get motivated?

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  • 1

    “pink dumb bells” God I hate that name! Will click through to see if it’s as lame as the it sound. “..because I don’t want to get all bulky…”

    When I lose motivation, I go back over all my past workout journals and find a workout I haven’t done in a while, or check websites for a change up on a routine. (one reason I read you all the time). Normally low motivation is just boredom.

    deb on June 11th, 2009
  • 2

    Pink dumbbells is not as bad as it sounds – heavy dose of irony! Although it is mainly fat loss oriented.

    When I suffer from low motivation it is usually because something else is awry in my life and it has an knock-on effect on the training.

    One thing I did today to cheer myself up was to go and look round a new gym, pretending I was thinking about joining. It’s kind of interesting seeing new set-ups, new equipment etc. Turns out this gym isn’t bad at all, got a reasonable weights room and so on. So I might actually think about it!

    gubernatrix on June 11th, 2009
  • 3

    I like the idea of those online challenges! I have a paper workout diary where I record each new PB for my weights on the date I achieve them. It is very satisifying to see that improvement over time!

    Lady G on June 21st, 2009
  • 4

    I agree Lady G, I like looking back on my lifts as well. I also enjoy the online challenges because when I’m not training I spend a lot of time online!

    gubernatrix on June 21st, 2009
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