Training Tip: Motivation

Training Tip: Motivation

Often the question and topic of motivation comes up.  Usually, it stems from “I’m losing motivation” or “trying to get motivated”.  Both of these are misguided and really the wrong question to the wrong person.  In fact, they shouldn’t be directed to anyone else other than yourself.

Motivation needs to come from within, not from external sources.  There are many reasons for this:

  • Outside sources are always variable
  • The moments you most need motivation are when you’re alone
  • Goals need to be aligned with abilities

Outside sources are variable

The one thing that is constant is you.  Things such as an upcoming event, the person you want to impress, the celebrity you want to mimic, the coach you are working with, the program you are following, or your training partner.  Certainly, all of these can help give you a boost and “feed the fire” but should not be the main source of motivation as they don’t last forever (even Arnold is aging).

The moments you most need motivation are when you’re alone

On the days when you’ve lost your mojo, often this is when you’re in your car and smell food that you shouldn’t be eating.  Could be your alarm clock is going off when you are sleeping like a rock.  Perhaps it’s after work and you hear about a social function that sounds fun.  All of these (plus many others we could make) have the common theme: you’re by yourself and there is something distracting you from your goal.

Goals need to be aligned with abilities

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t work for something that you think might be difficult to achieve.  Rather, it is saying that don’t set goals higher than you are willing to work for.  For example, if you’re a single parent and can realistically get 3 workouts in a week, it’s probably not wise to set the goal that you are going to win a triathlon.  However, getting your body fat to an all-time low level and perhaps running your best time on the mile would be very doable.

So what are good sources of motivation???

These are what every person must discover for him or herself.  Some ideas are:

  • Being the best you can be at this point in your life
  • Improve upon something that you have not been able to achieve (or repeat what you have done in the past)
  • Prove to yourself you have what it takes to do something
  • Having the satisfaction that you are in the top tier of individuals who actually achieve their goals

While these might come off as self-centered or arrogant, they are internal sources of motivation and don’t require stimuli from external factors.  Of course, goal setting is still just as important (see our previous article on that here).  Additionally, don’t misread that external sources/resources shouldn’t be utilized.  Proper programming including nutrition, training and other factors (which can come from outside sources) should be applied but they are not the source of motivation, but rather direction and guidance.

Keep making every day count, effort in equals results out!

-Ryan Irwin

For more information on this or coaching (nutrition, training, contest prep, or body composition), email