T Nation

Motivation Techniques

Hey fellow T-mag fans, I was wondering what some of you guys and gals use to get yourself pumped up to go to the gym. About a year ago I would never miss a workout and if I did I was majorly pissed off !! It seems now that I can hardly muster enough energy to get there and when I do I seem to do only enough to maintain my current muscle mass ( 213 lbs at 10% BF ). I am cutting calories to try to get to 6% BF so is this the problem or am I getting burned out. I have been training for 3 years now and when I started I was 253 lbs at 23% BF.

I go so that I don’t look like the people I make fun of.

Ok… here’s some of what motivates me. That damn mirror! Sometimes I think I look real good, other times pathetic. The guys in the gym that are bigger, stronger (sometimes the smaller ones too – don’t wanna go back there!!). A pic of Lee Priest (not the off season!). Goals! 90kg by end of year! 18" arms by end of year! A training partner that wants to be bigger and better, kicks my ass and pushes me. If I’ve hit a plateau then some new wierd training diet thing also gets me worked up.

Plan on going to a local bb contest (usually sat nights)…don’t lift for a week before the show…go to the show…and you will be dying for Sunday to come so you can go and lift

I use either Power Drive or some other stimulant. Seriously, the mirror was my greatest motivator for quite sometime; however, I’ve begun training for a Highland Games competition, and not getting my ass handed to me at the competition has become my motivator. How many times have you taken a break during your three years of training? By break I mean a week or two where you don’t lift but do other types of exercise. I’ve been training for 10 years and it took me five years to realize that you need breaks. Five years ago I was in a similar situation, not wanting to go to the gym or eat right, so I didn’t for about 3 months. After that 3 months I was in the worst shape of my life, but it made me understand that I was burnt out. Since then I schedule breaks (one or two weeks, not 3 months) in my programs where I can focus on some other activity and not lift. This has helped greatly. I still have the occasional day when I did not get enough sleep or what ever, but those days are few and far between. And with stimulants even those days are good work outs. Hope this helps.

For every rep you do, think how important it is to you. After all, you’re in the gym to achieve some specific goal, whether it is to look good at a contest or to impress that 19 year old intern at your work. I usually don’t think too much about my goals outside of the gym. I usually save all that mental energy for working out. It usually gets me fired up. And when I think that each rep I do brings me closer to achieving my goal, I get a sense of exhileration that keeps me in the gym and not leave early. Good luck. I hope you find the motivation you need in achieving your goals, whatever they may be.

Being something of a new guy at working out (6 months responsibly, 12 months haphazardly) I found an interesting point of view to keep myself feeling encouraged: no matter what stage we’re at, each of us is at someone else’s goal. There’s somebody in our gym who looks at us and thinks how happy they’d be to be at our level!

IT sounds like you are probably dieting pretty seriously. I know from personal expierence when I really cut carbs it is difficult to get motivated to do anything.
Also give yourself a weekly reward if you make your weekly workout goals. IE. like buying a CD or a food treat. I know it sounds goofy but it seems to help me.

I agree with everybody else’s comments, but I like to add that sometimes, “not feeling like it” is actually a sign from your body to take it easy.


If you’ve been training for 3 straight years, you probably already have the self-discipline and desire. So, again, sometimes, a layoff is just what’s needed to get your mind psyched and body primed to go again.

Sounds like you have some non-workout-related stresses in your life, whether they be of the relationship or the work kind. It’s difficult for me to conjure up ways to get motivated for the gym, as I have no problem whatsoever with that issue. On my off days, it’s all I can do to keep out of the gym, in fact! I’m always motivated to train, and have been for 24 years (though I did take off a decade once, but that’s another story). If you’ve been working out on a regular basis and still find your motivation lagging, take a week or two off, do some regular cardio or other activity (tennis, softball, biking, whatever), cut back on food a bit, and see if that doesn’t give you a boost. Trying Power Drive pre-workout would help you concentrate and block out conflicting thoughts and problems, too.

Maybe you do not have a specific goal for now. The same thing happened to me when I reached my goal of doing 3 pull-ups (not chins, mind you). Weighing 215 pounds, I was thrilled. All those pyramid sets of negatives really paid off. But when I reached the goal. POOF! Motivation zero. So basically, when you reach a goal, build on it and find a new goal right away.- Dan C.

Korn’s “Got the Life” or Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” do the trick for me. They get me nice and enraged, and I enter the gym wanting to crush every tennis player there lifting 20lbs on the leg extension.