T Nation

Extreme Motivation Problems

 I'm sorry for the long read but I would REALLY appreciate it if somebody could tale the time to read through it and give me their advice, thanks.

I’ve been training now for 5 years and have gained a lot of size during this time. I’m proud of my gains & how far I’ve come since starting out. Here are my stats just so you understand what type of person you’re dealing with here:

Age - 19
Height - 5,10"
Weight - 235lbs
Bodyfat - 15%

Here’s the problem. For the past few months I’ve just basically hit a wall where I just DON’T want to train. I train at home in my garage & I have to literally force myself to go to the gym by putting on motivational music, watching bodybuilding videos etc. EVen after doing all this I still don’t feel like going but I eventually walk downstairs into my gym.

When I get into the gym I do a couple exercises and then just quit completely & leave the gym to get back to my PC or to go and watch TV.

I must have tried nearly everything to actually keep me in the gym…

I bought an MP3 player and filled it with motivational music - That didn’t work.
I bought a TV & installed it in my gym - That didn’t work.
I took a week off - That didn’t work.
I went on holiday - That didn’t work.
I changed my routine completely - That didn’t work.
I thought of what I’d look like if I stopped training completely and guess what… That didn’t work either.

I honestly don’t have a clue what’s wrong with me and what I can do to change this. It just seems that I’ve run out of ideas to get motivated again.

It’s just like a boring cycle to me now… I wake up, eat a load of food, go to the gym, eat some more food & then go to bed ready to face the same cycle again the next day. I’m fed up of it but I WANT to change, I really do.

I used to LOVE going to the gym & seeing the gains that I was making but nowadays it just seems worse than sitting down & staring at a brick wall, it bores me to tears. Many people may say “well maybe bodybuilding just isn’t for you and maybe you need to take up a different sport”. Well the thing is, I don’t want to take up a different sport as the last thing I want to do is lose all the gains I’ve made in my 5 years of training and go back to square 1.

I’m good at bodybuilding/nutrition. It’s almost become second nature to me and to stop completely would be a nightmare to me, but unfortunately to me this seems to be happening.

The only reason I can think of for this decrease in motivation is the fact that for 6-8 months now I’ve been at the same weight/size & obviously to go to the gym day in/day out without seeing any gains seems like a complete waste of time.

Due to this problem of not getting anywhere gains wise I’ve considered steroids/designer steroids (superdrol etc) in order to hopefully break my plateau and start making gains again, which in turn will hopefully increase my motivation to get back in the gym. Obviously this isn’t the best route but I’m gonna be 20 in 6 months and I feel old enough/responsible enough to experiment with something like superdrol to see if it does actually help me.

Also, I was wondering whether there was any decent supplements that help to increase motivation and would make me get off my backside & go to the gym and to actually stay there and complete my workout instead of leaving after a couple of exercises.

To be honest, I really don’t know where to turn or what to do and I can’t express how much I could use some help regarding this matter.


Get another hobby and focus on that for a while. Go buy some obscure book by an obscure trainer. Try a radical new diet. If yorue a powerlifter, try bodybuilding, if youre a bodybuilder, try powerlifting, if youre both, then try strongman. Take a month off and lose 5 or 10 lbs and look at yourself and become so disgusted you dont want to do anything but train and eat and sleep.

My first thought was that you should try another sport for some time, but then I got to the point where you say you don’t want to do that. You obviously don’t want to do bodybuilding atm either… Have you considered a lot of other strength sports? Wrestling, powerlifting, football?

Maybe try and remember what you dreamed about when you were younger?

Here’s a few things I like to do: Reading books (going to the library), playing computer, running, cycling, playing tennis.

What about studying? Are you done with it? Get a new job?

Well… that’s what I could think of for now.

You may really enjoy strongman. I did a meet back in the spring and it was a blast. Completely different mindframe than bodybuilding. Theres very little penis envy or dick waving. Everyone is interested in helping others do their best.

That and theirs just something so awesome and fun about throwing kegs across a field and flipping tractor tires. Nothing quite like it. Theres a good thread in the physique and performance photos section called “stones and tires” all about strongman. Check it out.

First, try to change up your routines and try not to get so fixated on bodybuilding. Fitness is much more encompassing.

In the other post you mention that you have been training with 6 reps for a long time. That’s not much variety. Change that up. Do 2x12, 3x10, any other loading combination. Changing exercises is not enough.

Get a training partner. Try joining a commercial or a hardcore gym - other people around you might motivate you more. Try strength sports, any kind of sports just to keep on moving and developing some aspect of your fitness. You might lose some of your gains, but it’s not the end of the world. At some point your desire for lifting will likely come back. You might need to take off more than just a week.

I’m no expert on steroid use, but you should not try steroids at a tender age of 19. It’s not smart. You have not hit your natural potential yet and you are not a professional lifter/athlete.

If the above doesn’t work, the reason might lie outside of physical realm. Depression, stress, etc might be responsible.

If none of the above applies, just say “fuck it”, go easy on yourself and stop worrying about this for some time. If you can, do 2 exercises per workout and: squat + horizontal or vertical pull; deadlift + horizontal or vertical push. Fill up the rest of your time with other interesting things.

These are usually the lamest threads of all, but I feel your heart in this guy. I never thought the day would come when I would actually recommend this anymore, but try a cut maybe. You have some size and while 15% isn’t fat it isn’t lean either. Maybe heading the other way will get you moving again. Maybe not, but I honestly don’t know what else to tell you. I can understand the lack of reward draining your motivation. Maybe this would help.

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
These are usually the lamest threads of all, but I feel your heart in this guy. I never thought the day would come when I would actually recommend this anymore, but try a cut maybe. You have some size and while 15% isn’t fat it isn’t lean either. Maybe heading the other way will get you moving again. Maybe not, but I honestly don’t know what else to tell you. I can understand the lack of reward draining your motivation. Maybe this would help.[/quote]

I agree.

Plus losing fat is a whole new ball game, give it a shot and see if being lean doesn’t re-ignite your love for the iron game.

My $0.02…

  1. Get a lifting partner who shares your goals. Preferably someone bigger/stronger than you, but failing that, even training a complete beginner can be fun.

  2. Compete in SOMETHING. ANYTHING. If you’re a BB, do a show. If you are more interested in powerlifting, compete in a meet. As someone mentioned above, you could try a highland games.

When I saw the title I clicked on this hoping someone was going to tell you to quit being a poon and just do what you REALLY want to do or don’t whine about it…BUUUUUT, I don’t think this is that kind of issue after reading your post.

Anyone notice he doesn’t have a short term goal?

Yeah you’ve got this idea that you want to get bigger and stronger, possibly compete in the future, but you made no mention of any short term goals.

My suggestion is to take a break for a few weeks and evaluate. Don’t stress but think about something you want to do that is going to be a real challenge.

Keep your long term goals, but set up something that you can watch yourself in the short term accomplish, and let that be your motivation.

Music isn’t motivation.
T.v isn’t.
Internet isn’t.

Let your results be your motivation, and it sounds like you need to decide what results you REALLY want right now.

Hope you figure it out.

Don’t stop training, that is my primary advice. You might change your training style or diet but do not stop working out altogther. Look at training as a lifetime endeavor.

I wonder if there is something else going on, outside the gym, and your lack of motivation is a symptom of that. For instance, you say that instead of training, you’ll watch TV. You also made it sound as if all you do is work out and eat. Isn’t that more than a little boring? What about school, job, friends, dating, hobbies etc? You’re leading a full life, stimulating your mind etc?

Don’t give up your training but by all means, start developing some other interests, if your whole life has revolved around training. Have some balance, stay busy, and you will appreciate your gym time.

TOtally taking a break from training all together will just kill whatever motivation you have left. When I’m in a rut, I realize it, and cut down my gym hours, sets just about everything.

When I was in graduate school, I had very little time, so for a long while I was just doing the 3x a week, maybe 30-40 min each time. Didn’t have time for even taking too long between sets, so I did basic pre-exhaust super sets. If I was tired, I wouldn’t even go till failure.

THere’s been so much recent chatter about how you dont even need to work a muscle to failure, so make yourself a simple split (2-3 days), and despite that it may sound slightly negative, just ‘go through the motions’ for a bit.

You’ll maintain, without needing to be all fired up and focused. Some days I’m ready to tear everything apart when I train, and those are the days you really push. Other days, it’s just not “there”, so you ‘maintain’ and view it as a rest/backing off day. I just don’t think you should feel badly about it. It happens to everyone.

Hell, as I get older, when I get hurt and have to take time off, I realize how easy it would be to just do something else with my time. Then I see some really buff dude in a movie, or in a magazine, or even some chick on the street who just look so amazing, and I know that she worked damn hard to look like that. THat’s when I remember how much I loved being proud of what I had accomplished, and my motivation comes back 2 fold.

View it as part of the whole training process, and you’ll be fine.


Sounds like you’re burned out. It happens. Taking time off is a bad idea, as these usually go on indefinitely. But doing some sort of routine where you only train twice a week with the goal of keeping your gains is just about perfect for you. Do a few sets of heavy weights and duck out.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
<<< Taking time off is a bad idea, as these usually go on indefinitely. >>>[/quote]

Yep, Yep, Yep. The guy above C-Law said it too. If you are lacking motivation now it WILL NOT return the further out of shape you get. Like he’s saying, what starts as a well intentioned break will find you six months down the road with so much to overcome it’ll be a miracle if you ever get it back.

as many others have said, find something to compete in.

after I was done with school and stopped throwing, I tried to keep lifting but I just didn’t have the motivation without competition. so while I don’t compete the way I used to, I’ve tried attending a few smaller meets and whatnot just to keep myself interested. While I’m not competing seriously anymore, it’s increased my motivation tenfold.

I just know a couple things:

  1. Motivation comes from within. Music, bodybuilding vids, porn, whatever, is not going to motivate you. You must find what it was that inspired you to begin this journey 5 years ago and what kept you inspired until 6-8 months ago when you hit your “plateau”. Find what it was and use it. You must motivate yourself.

  2. Most “plateaus” or walls or whatever are usually food related. You stop growing because your body is not being overfed.

That is what I know.

The only thing in your thread that stuck out is you said you are “good at bodybuilding/nutrition” and it was almost second nature.

Maybe you’ve lost motivation because you can’t figure a way out of your plateau and you’ve tried these things and they aren’t working and it’s frustrating?

If this is the case I would start doing some research here on diet and exercise as it relates to busting through. Try to educate yourself more. As much as you already know, there is much, much more. Start working on a new diet and exercise plan to bust through this plateau. Write it down. Start it. Follow it. Have some ideas for corrections to make if you aren’t getting the results you want. Write them down. Re-write your goals or start new ones. Write them down. Start reaching for them. In other words, use every resource and every opportunity to get YOUR HEAD back in the game.

Good Luck.

Take a 2 week break, then find a show to prepare for.

The competition will give you a goal to focus on, and if nothing else, the fear of embarassment will keep you motivated.

But also, and most importantly in my opinion, getting absolutely shredded can be incredibly motivating. You’ll be able to see and be very proud of what you’ve built, whenever you walk down the street or beach without a shirt on you will get stares, and you may just notice a weak link that will get you all fired up to start bulking again after the competition.

Stick with it, don’t give up, this is not a hobby for you to drop, it is your lifestyle.

Get a member ship at a regular gym and start helping kids who want to learn how to train.

Set a date for a powerlifting meet, make friends with compedative people and try to beat them. Set a date for a bodybuilding show. Try steroids…

Try different kinds of training smolov sheiko westside what ever. If you have a kid get his ass lifting weights and have him set powerlifting records.

Start playing basket ball instead of cardio and get your squat up to improve your game.

Get a lifting partner who is motivated.

Sounds like it might be psychological. Unfortunately, there are some factors that are impossible to overcome with willpower alone. Chances are it’s going to pass eventually, so the only thing you can do is keep training even if you have to force yourself and/or put in a half-assed effort every time.

I wouldn’t recommend any hardcore stuff in that kind of mental/physical state, but you might want to give TRIBEX a shot. It has occasionally helped me with low-energy situations.

This always happen to me when I do a body part split for too long. I get burnt out with the volume.

I would change programs. Do something completely different that is over in 30mins.

This way, you might start looking forward to training instead of dreading it.

Always works for me.

Look for an intensity technique that will extend your regular set and make them more challenging (ie. supersets). Not only will it make your workouts more fun, but it will also break your plateaus, which I’m sure will motivate you.

Needless to say you better be careful with using intensity techniques. You’ll need to eat and rest more because overtraining can be an issue.

BTW, it would be nice if you posted your current workout. That might help us give you more advice.