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Loss of Motivation: what could it be?

This is hard to admit, but I’ve been avoiding the issue long enough:I don’t really enjoy training anymore, and I haven’t lifted consistently in about 9-10 years. Consistently being more than 1x a week. I recently started paying a trainer to motivate me to go, but it hasn’t lit a fire under me so to speak. I go, I do my workout w/him, I train hard but after I leave, that’s it. I don’t look forward to the sessions at all. I don’t know why I’m not motivated anymore, I used to love lifting. I read t-mag and other sites every week, I have about 12 books on lifting and exercising, I bought a complete free weight home gym, I even bought Matt Furey’s COmbat Conditioning tapes to try something new, but…I still do practically nothing. Even though I am obviously interested in lifting and nutrition, I just don’t have any desire to get in the gym.
I have 3 questions: 1) Is it a mental problem, a “block” of some kind? 2) could it be low testosterone? (which I highly doubt, I’m only 28 and this has been going on for close to 10 years) 3) Could it be depression? I’ve recently been diagnosed w/mild depression, my Dr. believes its due to a medication I’ve been taking for about 5 years. (But again, this has been going on close to 10 years)

Please, if anybody has had this problem and solved it, or if you have any insight into what might be causing it, tell me. It’s really hard to admit this, I feel like a f’n loser.

Have you tried changing what type of traininng you’re doing? If you’ve been doing only bodybuilding stuff maybe try Powerlifting or go renagade style, or train like an olympic lifter. Set a goal to enter a contest by a certain date, Or a bodybuilding show. Maybe take some time to identify your goals and interests and go for it. Who knows maybe you’re a powerlifter at heart and don’t care about striations. Or take up a sport or activity that you enjoy. That may eventually get you in to train for that sport. Just a few thoughts.

First off, don’t feel like an “F’in loser”! I notice you mentioned that you haven’t worked out more than once a week for a long time. That could be part of the problem. If you can make it, maybe 3 times a week for even 2-3 weeks, then you should notice some positive changes in the way you feel physically and thus, mentally. Then that would serve as a catalyst to start getting to the gym more often on a regular basis. Just going once a week now and then is only going to make you tired and maybe sore, without giving your body a chance to enjoy the benefits of a more regular workout routine. Keep your chin up, Sonny!

Are there any sports or other physical activities you’re interested in? It seems like my workouts are much more enjoyable if I know they are helping me work toward a performance enhancement. I play baseball and I know that everything I put into these workouts is going to show on the field this spring. In fact i’m thinking about trying to semi-pro football again at the same time so that is extra motivation for me to work hard. Hope that helps.

I have a couple of comments, because I have been training for a long time (maybe hard to tell just by looking at me) with many periods of layoffs, maybe too many…

First, if you really want to be in shape (and weight training is your chosen way to do that) it doesn’t matter that much if you enjoy training. It only matters that you do it. I don’t particularly enjoy washing the dishes, but it is something I have to do on a regular basis. This comment will rub some people the wrong way (the “T-MEN”) but so what. Peoples’ goals change, and being “hyuuge” or freaky ripped is not a priority for everyone. If that is your story, just admit that and try to deal with it. It is very hard to reconcile a “bodybuilding lifestyle” with the rest of the world, so if that is not your bag, it doesn’t make you less of a person. Don’t force that on yourself. However, it IS a good idea to stay in shape, and weight training is the best way to do that, IMO.

Make it easy to succeed… Find a gym that is close to your house. Try to make your workouts intense but brief. An hour or less, from the time you show up to the time you are out the door. Don’t flog yourself to death in the gym, you should have MORE energy when you leave the gym, than when you got there. Don’t force yourself to do exercises you hate, if it is going to prevent you from showing up (squats for example). I think I can say that, having squatted for over 20 years. If you don’t want to squat, no problem, don’t force yourself.

I have come to realize that training is good for me mentally and physically, but I will never compete in a strength or physique show. As long as I just SHOW UP at the gym, everything else takes care of itself. Meaning I know how to train, all I have to do is make the time for it. The energy I get and the stress-relief from working out, make that time in the gym well-spent.

Have fun in the gym if you can. If it’s not fun, maybe it’s time to try a sport that IS fun for you. Not everybody has to pump iron to stay in shape.

Finally, yes, you may be suffering from depression. Ironically, the thing that really helps depression is exercise!

I believe the key to anything is motivation and incentives. What I’d suggest doing first is figuring out why you train in the first place. Is it because you want to be ‘healthy’ and live longer? Do you want to look good for women? Do you want to improve your performance in a sport? Do you simply love to train just for training’s sake (obviously not in your case)? When you did enjoy training, what was your motivation? Once you figure out why you want to train (your motiviation) figure out some incentives to get yourself into the gym. I think looking good, being healthy, being good in sport are all incentive enough to get your ass in the gym.

This most certainly is related to your depression…in fact, loss of motivivation and no longer finding pleasure in activities previously pleasurable are key symptoms of the depression diagnosis. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Exercise has been shown to help in treatment/prevention of depression, however, but if you’re basically hating all forms of exercise (ie lifting, running, playing basketball) then I would pick the form that you’re least likely to do when you’re “over” this bout. This is because if you plan to lift afterwards, there are some behavioral and cognitive cues that will basically “remind” you of how your feeling now and you’ll be in the habit of not liking whatever it is that you’re doing. But trying something diferent (like combat conditioning) will help if you do like it.

Good luck, and try to find the support you need with family and friends.

I’ve been through phases like this. I was getting stress from my job and girlfriend. The job got better and the girl got gone! Once, I quit exercising for almost four years. Don’t make that mistake! Do something different, change your schedule, pick an activity you like the most, you can even let your diet slip some but DO NOT QUIT exercising completely! Find out what is getting you down and try to make some changes. Pick a close friend or family member and talk about it.

sonny, you can buy all the tapes, videos, books, and the best personal trainer in the world, but you just can’t buy motivation, and you can’t buy commitment. I can deffinately understand depression, it’s hard. but commit yourself to 3-4 days a week of training, write a specific training program according to your goals, and set some solid goals, write them down, memorize them, and as long as you stick to your 3 days a week in the gym goals you’ll be on your way. i don’t mean “i’m going to train 3 days a week” i mean “i’m going to train monday, wedsday, and friday, at 2:00 i’ll be in the gym on time, and this is what i’ll do monday, this is what i’ll do wed. and this is what i’ll do friday”


I suggest you take a look at a book called ‘the emotional energy factor’. It’ll help you in your ‘situation’. It’s by Mira Kirshenbam or something like that.

Try entering a bodybuilding contest. Often works for people who have lost their motivation and need some new challenge to push them to their limits.

Lumpy in particular has some good advice, some of my best workouts have been when I didn’t feel like training but once I got started it went great. If you are only training once per week go to 3 and if possible try something different from what you normally do Fat to Fire, exercises you have never tried articles etc. If not that then I wouldn’t worry about a split routine for a while (if ever) just try and cover the whole body in a upper then lower exercise routine like in German Body Comp. Your initial goal should be to go 3 times pw for a month.

Thanks for all the responses, they’re appreciated. Just so everybody understands, I do enjoy lifting. I started when I was 14 and playing football. I would love to lift after school with the team, or with my close friend at his house. I always enjoyed deads, military presses, bench dips, shrugs, preachers…never really liked squats. This is off-topic for a moment, but with squats I could never find a groove and get them to feel ‘right’. My trainer has me do them often, and only once out of the last 6 sessions did it feel ‘right’ where no matter how much weight was on the bar, the load felt comfortable and the movement felt natural. My trainer has shown a ton of new movements, like power cleans (they’re fun!). Maybe I should go into the gym and do the exercises I love instead of sticking to what a program says. Maybe that will help motivation.

As far as SETTING GOALS, man, I’ve tried at least 5 times over the last 6 years to go on a diet/exercise program. 2 or 3x w/the EAS challenge, 2x w/Fat Fast, 1x w/Atkins. I write down what I want, what I want to look like/weigh, what its going to take, I plan out menus, routines…and I never do jack sh#t. I spend days planning everything I’m going to do, and it always fizzles out after a week or so. I said to myself I was going to get down to 270 (from 300) before I went back into wrestling, and I still haven’t done that. Speaking of which, many of you said to try activities that I enjoy and do those as my primary means of exercise. Well, what’s happened w/those sports is what’s happened weightlifting-I spend time and money reading about and buying equip. and then I rarely do anything. I’ve gone into debt and moved to another city w/pro wrestling-haven’t accomplished much there. I have a mountain bike I enjoy riding-rarely go. Same with roller blading. Maybe I obsess about things and try to learn too much about it by reading instead of just DOING it. I have all kinds of reasons to get in the gym and to wrestle/bike/rollerblade: lose weight, gain muscle, get in shape for the ring and to be more attractive, to be healthy, etc. I KNOW all this, but yet I don’t do it.

maybe I really need therapy and possibly, an anti-depressant. I DID take one step towards fighting depression, I scheduled an app’t w/my doctor next week and I’m going to change the medication I’m taking. Hopefully, switching meds wiil be a big help. But it stiil doesn’t answer why I didn’t do too much after HS and during college. Maybe I partied too much? :slight_smile:

I know 2nd semester freshman year I smoked weed every f’n day, that didn’t help.
Some of you said Challenges but w/me they have never worked. I just don’t respond to challenges, I guess I don’t give a damn what somebody thinks I cannot do.
I’m glad I’m finally talking about this with someone, I will try to talk about it w/some friends.

Please give me more feedback.


Sonny, you are writing about exactly what I do. I always find myself reading more about building muscle, losing fat and getting in shape than actually doing it. I too enjoy mountain biking and live near some great moutains, but never go. The only thing I always do consistently is Jujitsu, and that is because people expect me there I think. Personally, I have found that the “I will lift mon, wed, fri. doing Fat to Fire with 45 sec breaks at a tempo of…” thing doesn’t work for me. I was talking to a studying tutor and she told me that I resisted studying because I was rebelling against myself and my plans. “Breaking out of the box” so to speak is supposed to help me study better, so I am trying that now with working out. My current goals are to lift 3 days/week and eventually only eat whole, JB style foods. All I can say is try different things. Maybe “break out of the box” and just lift on the days you feel like lifting. Run when you feel like running. Find what motivates you and stick with it. I hope you succeed in your quest. Jeff

Sonny, I am sorry I did not see your post until just now, I hope you still get my message. Let me tell you a story,Once upon a time there was a weak un-motivated dude, we’ll call “P-lifter” he was very un motivated and extremely down on himself…He was always interested in the sport of Bodybuilding, but soon found out that he had poor bodybuilding genetics. His biceps were very short, his calves were very high and small, he had an impossible time gettting rid of that last bit of fat on his abs…Then he met a big fat dude, who could move more weight on the bench press then our hero could leg press. Plifter was invited to work out with this ball of power, and while he never wanted to have a belly that big, he did want to know what it was like to bench over 300lbs. So as they began to work out Plifter found his calling. His strength went up, his motivation went through the roof, and soon he wanted to enter a competition. He did, and he took 2nd to last. But that little taste of competition was all he needed. Our little hero can now bench just under 500lbs, Deadlift over 600, and squat over 700…His belly is still not as big as his mentor, but that is not the point…The point is, that yes this lazy un motivated person was yours truly, and all it took was COMPETITION! Set yourself some goals, post them in your home, and get yourself into a competition!!! Win or Lose, you will be a better man for it…I truly wish you the best of luck, and as funny and “Un-Politically correct” as it is, I will pray for you…Dont ever give up!

Forget the drastic diets, and do JB’s Don’t Diet, or T-Dawg V2. If you think doing the exercises you enjoy will help then do that. Instead of specific goals try making the process the goal, make the goal very short term (weekly) such as gym x 3 & mountain bike x 1 something similar. Try not reading anything about training for a month.

You got a personal trainer, your read stuff, you plan, you post here…You haven’t worked out consistently in 10 years. You seem to be looking everywhere for some little piece of inspiration that will make working out easy for you. It won’t happen. We can’t do it, the trainer can’t do it, nothing can do it except you.

There’s something I’ve noticed, a fundamental difference, between the successful people (w/ training and otherwise), and the one’s that aren’t: The successful people do things because of an inner drive, and are honest with themselves about whether or not they’re doing it right.

The other’s do things without that drive, almost in a fashion so that later on, when they are unsuccessful, they can list the many things they have tried as proof of their effort. (Ex. “I hired a personal trainer, I tried this, i did that…” sure makes it sound like you did everything you could…but did you?)

Really though, those things aren’t proof of effort. They are the opposite. Proof that you didn’t have what it took to look deep inside yourself and find effort there…that you had to try to find “artificial” effort from message boards and PT’s. That effort won’t get you anywhere.

My advice: Decide why you really want to workout, what your ultimate goal is. Then decide which is more painful for you…1) Living the rest of your life without reaching that goal…or 2) Forcing yourself to change your ways enough to reach your goal.

Because change of any type happens only when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing, I’m going to assume the pain required to change your ways and workout more has been greater than the pain of living with an out of shape body.

So there it is, I didn’t sugar coat it at all. This is how i feel. You have to find the drive and change for yourself if you want it to happen. We can’t say anything that’ll do it for you. So do it…or don’t, I don’t mind, you’ll only make us look better for being in great shape compared to someone who doesn’t put forth that effort.

There’s something I’ve noticed, a fundamental difference, between the successful people (w/ training and otherwise), and the one’s that aren’t: The successful people do things because of an inner drive, and are honest with themselves about whether or not they’re doing it right. The other’s do things.

If you have mild depression, that can really make you not want to do anything. It’s been my experience before too. Extreme external stress can cause me to be very depressed and/or very furious. I couldn’t drag myself to the gym no matter what. I took about two months off to get my stress/emotions in order (the doc didn’t say it was clinical depression, etc., just my response to extreme stress and that I need to learn to manage it better). And now I feel better, and I like to train. So give yourself some allowance and don’t drive yourself crazy. It’ll make it worse if you try to force yourself.

Thanks again for the responses, they’re appreciated. I always enjoyed powerlifting, maybe I should look into finding a serious gym near me, or at least a dedicated partner. Maybe part of the reason I don’t to go the gym often is that I don’t have that camaraderie and kinship I had in high school. I never thought of that before! Another thing I realized betw. yesterday and today is that I have had problems with being persistent in the things I do. I rarely carry things out through to the end (such as dieting). WHich is why its important, really important for me to have fun when I train and enjoy it-not to do it because I feel I have to. On a related note, I started realizing a few years ago that the people who have success in life, who obtain the things and jobs they want, are usually not the most talented. They’re usually the most persistent. They may be mediocre, but they keep pushing and doing and eventually get what they want thruough luck, hard work, a big break, whatever. This is something I need to remember in all areas of my life, not just working out.
POwerlifter- I really appreciate your post because you were able to change, and change is the most powerful thing in our lives. Congratulations!

If anybody else has any stories to share, please do. I’d love to hear them.

Hyphnz, I think you’re right in saying that maybe I shouldn’t read about training for a month. AFter all, I’ve been reading non-stop for 14 years, how much do I need to know? I already know MORE than I need to-and I realize this. My problem isn’t lack of knowledge, it’s lack of motivation. I read DInsaur Training 3x, it still doesn’t help me to actually put myself thru a dinosaur-style workout. I also never thought about just focusing on a 1 week goal like “Get to the gym 3x this week”. That is my goal for the week of Jan. 27th. get to the gym 3x. FormerlyJohn- You’re correct in saying that everything I’ve bought isn’t proof of effort, and that’s why its so damn hard to admit. Like I said, I feel like a loser sometimes, because I’m not doing what I should be doing and what I could be doing (such as getting leaner, stronger, etc). I’m glad I’m finally admitting this to myself, all this time and money I wasted buying things and reading, instead of training.