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Get Up and Get Moving

Five Ways to Increase Training Motivation

When it comes to hitting the gym and getting results, most trainees – newbie and advanced lifter alike – intend to give their all and do whatever is necessary to optimize progress. However, having the best intentions and a willingness to act on these intentions are two distinctly different matters.

Having the intention to improve but not following through on this intention produces nothing. Worse still, by continuing to put off the work that must be done today, a self-perpetuating habit (and mindset) of failure is likely to be ingrained, which may in turn lead to increasing levels of frustration, guilt, and procrastination.

Those who achieve their fitness goals tend to subscribe to that time-worn but truthful staying: “actions speak louder than words.” On the other hand, those who fail to become fit and active are often super-adept at verbalizing their intentions, planning their mission… and perpetually procrastinating when it comes to doing the necessary work.

The reasons why some may lack the motivation to train when they understand the merits of training and have committed to doing so are many and varied. Topping the list are a fear of failure, poor self-belief, and a lack of buy-in.

By addressing each of these factors, the motivation to pursue one’s fitness objectives becomes that much greater. In the following article I’ll discuss the best ways to forestall a fear of failure, build self-belief, enhance training buy-in, and two additional though no less important methods for improving training motivation: the willingness to act and a growth mindset.

1. Fearing Failure (and Progress)

A fear of failing to achieve one’s objectives often underlies a lack of training motivation. Here, we may believe that a task is so monumentally insurmountable that, deep down, we doubt whether we can make any inroads into achieving it.6,

For example, we may believe that the amount of work needed to lose 30lbs of bodyfat is simply not within our reach, or that getting strong enough to bench 250lbs for reps is impossible for one with such meagre strength. Because, like all humans, we are pleasure-oriented, we’ll usually do all we can to avoid the psychological pain of failure. The best way to avoid such pain is to simply not begin in the first place. Welcome to the world of the procrastinator.

Clearly such a mindset will go a long way to keeping us mired to the couch and out of the gym. That fact is, though, for almost all people each of these objectives (and a great many more) can be achieved with the right mindset. The act of getting started and generating momentum (to be discussed soon) is what’s necessary to ultimately tick them off our list of accomplishments.2

For certain people, such fear can also be associated with success. Here, goal achievement may lead to an all-encompassing sense of responsibility and obligation to maintain a certain degree of success. For example, having lost that 30lbs we now have the added pressure of keeping it off.

Or we may lose a little momentum (which happens to us all) and use this as an excuse to hop aboard the slippery slope to mediocrity (putting us back to where we were before and ‘convincing’ us that we did not deserve such success in the first place). Once again, a fear of failure often underpins such thinking and keeps us from continuing on a successful trajectory.

Do This Instead:

Don’t overthink the situation. Instead, take small steps toward ultimate goal achievement. Rather than overanalyzing the whole picture, break your training into smaller goals and seek to accomplish them, one day at a time.

Though having a strong vision of what we desire is imperative, it’s best to focus more on what we can do now, and celebrate any small victories achieved along the way. Before we know it, we’ll have overcome those seemingly insurmountable objectives and have moved another step closer to achieving the body of our dreams.

2. Poor Self-Belief

Even though we may verbalize and visualize great success in the gym, without the self-belief necessary to back ourselves during the difficult times, we’ll just as likely fail to make it to goal completion. Indeed, by doubting our ability to succeed we’ll find it extremely difficult to really get going when it counts.

While we may go through the training motions, the motivation to push further and challenge ourselves with heavier weights, more reps, and added intensity can only be achieved when we truly believe we have what it takes to go all the way.

Think about the last time you were under a heavy squat bar. With the massive weights bearing down, you continued to crank out the reps to complete failure, secure in the knowledge that achieving a certain rep target was possible.

Contrast this to the same set attempted by a person with poor self-belief. With five reps to go and lungs on fire, the smallest amount of self-doubt may force this person to terminate the set before completing those crucial growth-inducing reps. Over time, a lack of progress resulting from such a half-hearted approach to training can stifle motivation and serve as a ready excuse for putting off future sessions.

Do This Instead:

When it comes to advancing in the gym, any amount of progress is to be viewed as good. Rather than doubting you have what it takes should progress not happen fast enough, instead revaluate your training and make some changes. Perhaps add a new movement or cut back on the weight while focusing on perfect form. Then, trust the process and keep going. The small victories you do ultimately achieve will help to manifest the self-belief which maximizes the motivation needed to push further.

3. Full Commitment (Finding Your ‘Why’)

Before anyone can develop the motivation to accomplish their training mission, full commitment (or buy-in) must be the first consideration. To achieve such buy-in we need to know why we are doing what we are doing. Without having a firm reason for grinding it out in the gym day after day, putting forth the massive investment in time and effort required to stick to a rigorous training schedule can be tough, if not impossible in the long term.12

In establishing our ’why’ we bolster our commitment to succeed while also strengthening our willingness and motivation to consistently hit the weights room. By aligning our training mission with the training-process itself, we attach meaning to each of our training sessions while negating the self-doubt that tends to plague those who might otherwise quit. Conversely, with little if any firm direction to guide our actions, we may simply go through the motions and, over time, become more and more disillusioned with our inevitable lack of progress.

Do This Instead:

Whatever your training goal, always remember to review it daily to ensure it is foremost in your mind before you enter the gym. Having your mission in mind as you train is crucial for building the kind of motivation needed to sustain a high physical output.

To strengthen your commitment to self you must know exactly why you have taken the steps you have taken to get in top shape. Vaguely articulated goals, on the other hand, will have the opposite effect: they’ll likely have you second guessing your commitment to the gym.9

4. Inaction

Though you may have mastered your fear of failure, strengthened your sense of self-belief, and formulated a detailed list of concrete training objectives, all of this means nothing without an ability and willingness to act.

While all of the above will no doubt enhance one’s motivation to train hard, there is no guarantee that everyone will respond in exactly the same way. In fact, some people, even with each of the above steps firmly in place, will be looking for a way out before they even enter the gym. We are all wired differently and some people, to put it bluntly, are simply less driven than others. This means we must force ourselves to act at all times.

Do This Instead:

The simple act of beginning remains the single biggest step we can take toward goal achievement. Once we get going, we are likely to generate enough momentum to get in a good workout. Action also precedes the state of ‘flow’ that keeps us focused on the task at hand.1, 3, 4, 5

A useful mindset to have when feeling low on motivation is that doing anything (within reason) is better than doing nothing. In fact, scaling back on training intensity can sometimes be done in the best interests of assisting with recovery and helping to heal niggles that may become major injuries if worked through in the wrong manner.

The main point here is to always be accountable to yourself. If you know you have to get to the gym, get there. If you don’t feel you are quite up for the challenge, go anyway. Do something. Get started and chances are you’ll have one of your best sessions ever.

5. The Key Component: Mindset

Even with the best intentions, supreme self-belief, and a solid plan of attack, a lack of motivation can be present in those with compromised mental resources. Here, foggy thinking, depression, anxiety, or just plain mental burnout can all impede our ability to begin.

While each of these may require the help of a relevant medical specialist, there are non-clinical steps that can be taken to optimize our mental state, to bolster our drive and determination to succeed and enhance our concentration and cognitive abilities to ensure we get the most from our workouts.

Do This Instead:

Conjuring the right mental state to attack the weights with full intensity can be a tricky business. Just like all other biological processes, our emotions and mental energy fluctuate on a daily basis. Unfortunately, if we don’t keep a close watch over our mental state and look for different ways to optimize our mental functioning, we may find ourselves struggling to stay motivated.

Though we may sometimes have limited control over how we feel and function mentally (life may throw things at us that we may not be prepared for), we can nevertheless modify our brain functioning for the better. By providing the right raw materials for proper mental performance we reduce the likelihood of experiencing a depletion of our mental reserves.

For training specifically, there exist a number of key products that can radically transform our mindset for the better (see below for a supplement stack that’s guaranteed to significantly boost mental performance). These can be taken before training to get our mind in the game, regardless of how we may feel at any given time.

In addition, to preserve our brain health we need to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, drink sufficient water throughout the day, and avoid unnecessary negativity. By combining each of these factors, the possibility of slipping back into bad mental habits (procrastination, poor self-belief…) can be greatly lessened.

12-Week ‘Get-Moving’ Training Plan

The main focus of the plan to follow is to encourage exercise adherence with a variety of different movements and an eclectic approach to hitting each muscle grouping twice a week.7

Besides a lack of progress due to a lack of motivation, one of the biggest reasons for discontinuing a training program is insufficient variety. To counter this common problem, the ‘Get Moving’ plan below provides a list of exercise alternatives so you have the option of picking the plan of your choosing from week to week.

You’ll still reap the same benefits while giving your muscles a different growth stimulus with each workout. As a bonus, you’ll enjoy your training more, which will likely keep you coming back for more.

Training Notes

-Before each separate movement, complete one sets of 15 reps with a weight that is 50% lighter than the first work set.

-Rest: to ensure maximum intensity, keep rest periods between sets at 1 minute and rest periods between movements at 2 minutes.

-Select weight in accordance with prescribed rep range. Choose resistance that ensures failure on the last rep of each work set.

-For this plan you have two options: complete the plan as outlined for the full 12 weeks, or switch up a given movement or two for similar movements (or movement sequences) from the ‘alternatives’ list. For example, Monday’s Wide Stance Squats SS with Leg Extensions may be exchanged for Leg Extensions SS with Goblet Squats. From week to week you may choose different movements from the ‘alternatives’ list to add more variety to your training.

Intensity Methods

-Supersets (SS): complete a second set with a different movement immediately following the first set.

-Trisets (TS): complete a third set with a different movement immediately following the completion of two movements performed sequentially.

-Double Drop Sets (DDS): complete one set, reaching failure within the stated rep range; reduce weight by 30% and complete another set; reduce weight by a further 30% and complete a final set.

Monday

Morning: Cardio – Bike, Stepper or Treadmill

  • 45 minutes of steady state, moderate intensity (70% of heart rate maximum)

Evening: Legs and Abs

  • Wide Stance Squats SS with Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Leg Presses: 3 DDS of 15 reps
  • Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets of 25 reps (per side)
  • Walking Lunges: 3 sets of 15 reps (per side)
  • Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Standing Calf Raises SS with Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Stability Ball Crunches TS with Hanging Leg Raises/V-Ups: 3 sets of 20 eps (per movement)
Optional Alternatives
  • Leg Extensions SS with Goblet Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Toe Presses on Leg Press Machine SS with Donkey Calf Raises: 3 sets of 20 reps (per movement)
Tuesday

Evening: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

  • Bench Presses SS with Incline DB Presses: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Incline Flyes: 3 DDS of 12 reps per set
  • Lateral Raises TS with Bent Laterals/Hammer Front Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • BB Presses (to the front): 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Rope Pressdowns: 3 DDS of 12 reps
  • DB One-Arm Kickbacks: 3 sets of 15 reps
Optional Alternatives
  • DB Bench Presses SS with Incline BB Presses: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Flat Bench Flyes: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • DB Presses: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Lying BB Triceps Extensions: 3 sets of 15 reps
Wednesday

Morning: Cardio – Bike, Stepper or Treadmill

  • 45 minutes of steady state, moderate intensity (70% of heart rate maximum)

Evening: Back and Biceps

  • Pull-ups SS with Reverse-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • One-Arm DB Rows: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • BB curls SS with Spider Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Alternating DB Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps (per side)
Optional Alternatives
  • Chinups SS with Close-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Bent Over BB Rows: 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Incline DB Curls SS with One Arm Preacher Curls: 3 sets of 12 reps 9per movement)
  • Zottman Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps
Thursday

Morning: Cardio – Bike, Stepper or Treadmill

  • 25 minutes of HIIT: alternating 20 seconds of intense effort (85-90% of heart rate maximum) with 40 seconds of moderate intensity (70% of heart rate maximum)

 

Evening: Legs and Abs

  • Leg Presses TS with Leg Extensions/One-Legged Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Stationary Lunges SS with Narrow-Stance Squats: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 DDS for 15 reps
  • Ab Wheel Roll-Outs: 3 sets of 15
  • Lying Leg Raises: 3 sets of 25 reps

 

Optional Alternatives
  • DB Squats (arms elevated): 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Walking Lunges SS with Wide-Stance Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps 9per movement)
  • Hacksquats: 3 sets of 12 reps
Friday

Evening: Chest, Shoulders and Triceps

  • Machine Chest Presses (wide grip) SS with Flat Bench Flyes: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Close Grip Bench Presses: 3 DDS of 12 reps
  • Lateral Raises SS with DB Presses: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • DB Front Raises (palms down): 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Straight Bar Pressdowns SS with One-Arm Overhead Extensions: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
Optional Alternatives
  • Bench Presses SS with Incline Flyes: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Flat Bench DB Close (Crush) Presses: 3 sets of 15 reps.
  • Bent Lateral Raise SS with Machine Shoulder Presses: 3 sets of 15 reps (per movement)
  • Two-Arm DB Kickbacks: 3 sets of 12 reps
Saturday

Morning: Cardio – Bike, Stepper or Treadmill

  • 25 minutes of HIIT: alternating 20 seconds of intense effort (85-90% of heart rate maximum) with 40 seconds of moderate intensity (70% of heart rate maximum)

Evening: Back and Biceps

  • Reverse-Grip BB Rows SS with Wide-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Lying DB Pullovers: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • DB Deadlifts: 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Incline DB Curls SS with Zottman Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps 9per movement)
  • Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 10 reps
Optional Alternatives
  • BB Deadlift: 3 sets of 20 reps
  • Close-Grip Pulldowns SS with BB Rows: 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
  • Reverse-Grip Pulldowns: 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Alternating DB curls SS with Reverse Curls; 3 sets of 12 reps (per movement)
Sunday

Morning: Cardio – Bike, Stepper or Treadmill

  • 25 minutes of HIIT: alternating 20 seconds of intense effort (85-90% of heart rate maximum) with 40 seconds of moderate intensity (70% of heart rate maximum)
Training Stack to Increase Motivation and Supercharge Training Intensity

As discussed above, our mental state goes a long way to determining the extent to which we may generate the motivation needed to dominate the weights. Without the mental energy and sense of positive wellbeing that puts us in the right frame of mind to keep pushing further in the gym, training may become a struggle where we must force ourselves to get to the gym and grind through another tough session.

Energy – both mental and physical – is known to fluctuate daily. Sometimes we struggle to find enough of it to get through the simplest of tasks much less hit the gym with energy to spare. But there is a way to supercharge our senses, to get the most from our training. By taking the following stack you’ll give yourself the mental edge when it counts.

IMPACT
IMPACT IGNITER (when to take: take one serving immediately before each workout)

Quite simply the most effective pre workout energizer out there, IMPACT IGNITER is to be reserved only for the most intense training and is not recommended for all trainees – only those wanting the best results and who are willing to push their bodies to exhaustion each and every time.

As well as stimulating the senses with its unrivalled stimulant blend, which includes all-natural forms of Caffeine, Synephrine HCI, Hordenine HCI, and Higenamine HCI, this product also enhances motivation, feelings of wellbeing and mental acuity and clarity through its powerful listing of nootropic compounds.

 

VITASTACK-POWDER
VITASTACK POWDER (when to take: take one serving daily, with food)

We all know that a good mental foundation begins with the right raw materials for building and powering myriad mental processes. With over 70 highly active and bioavailable nutrients in one delicious drink, the newly formulated VITASTACK POWDER benefits all systems of the body – including the brain and other parts of the nervous system – much the same way the traditional VITASTACK ‘nutrient pack’ formula has for decades been helping bodybuilders reach their full potential.

Getting the right nutrients through food is a great start. However, for hard training athletes, only a perfect ratio of each vital nutrient can enhance training output, recovery, and adaption. Here there can be no shortcuts when it comes to supplying the right fuel at the right times.

With VITASTACK POWDER, with its added 400mg of BCAAs, there is no easier way to achieve a positive nutrient balance and the right raw materials to create the motivation to conquer the gym and grow.

 

CARBION
CARBION+ (when to take: take one serving immediately before each workout)

As most seasoned lifters will attest, the best form of fuel for both brain power and muscle power remains good old carbohydrates, that much vilified macro that many have taken to avoiding in place of a higher fat content.

The negative reputation carbs have received has largely resulted from the overconsumption of the wrong kinds of carbs, at the wrong times. Nowadays, smart lifters have taken to consuming a new breed of designer carbs (most notably, medium-chain maltodextrins and specially engineered carbohydrates) prior to working out.

The leader of such formulations is CARBION+, a sustaining energy source infused with a patented electrolyte blend designed expressly to keep the trainee in the training zone where previously they may have lost the motivation to continue. By adding this product to your workout stack, you’ll have taken the first important step to staying on task through every set, right to the dying stages of a workout.

Health Tip: Visualize

Visualization (or mental practice) enables us to close in on our training goals while preparing us for success in the gym. In fact, studies have found that some forms of mental practice are almost as effective as the actual training itself in preparing an athlete for sporting or training success.10

The visualization process begins by first establishing a highly specific goal and thinking about this goal as if you have already achieved it (mentally picture this goal of it as if it were taking place right now – for example, the exhilaration of achieving a new personal best on the bench press).

The key to effective visualization is to imagine all details of goal achievement as vividly as possible while engaging as many of the five senses as you can (for example, the smell of the gym environment and the feeling of tightness in the relevant muscles as you rack the bench press bar after a successful lift).8

The best time to practice such visualization is immediately before hitting the gym. Sit in a comfortable chair and mentally run through how you would like a specific part of your training to unfold. Do this 4-5 times, with as much realism as possible. Then, get to the gym and get ready to train harder than ever before.

References
  1. Abuhamdeh, S. et al. (2009). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations in the competitive context: an examination of person–situation interactions.  Personal.77, 1615–1635.
  2. Arikawa, A. Y. et al. (2011). Adherence to a strength training intervention in adult women. Journal of physical activity & health8(1), 111–118.
  3. Bakker, A. B. (2005). Flow among music teachers and their students: the crossover of peak experiences.  Vocat. Behav.66, 26–44.
  4. Biasutti, M. (2017). Flow and optimal experience, in Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology, ed J. P. Stein (New York, NY: Elsevier), 522–528.
  5. Carli, M. et al. (1988). The Quality of Experience in the Flow Channels: Comparison of Italian and US students.New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  6. Hjeltnes, A. et al. (2015). Facing the fear of failure: An explorative qualitative study of client experiences in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program for university students with academic evaluation anxiety. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being10, 27990.
  7. Miller, F. L. et al. (2014). Exercise dose, exercise adherence, and associated health outcomes in the TIGER study. Medicine and science in sports and exercise46(1), 69–75.
  8. Mosher, C. How to Grow Stronger Without Lifting Weights. Scientific American. [Online] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-grow-stronger-without-lifting-weights/ – retrieved on 20.6.20
  9. Phchyl, T. Fear of Failure. Psychology Today. [Online] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dont-delay/200902/fear-failure – retrieved on 20.6.20
  10. Ranganathan, V.K. et al.2004. From mental power to muscle power–gaining strength by using the mind. Neuropsychologia. 42(7):944-956.
  11. E. Practical Ways to Improve Your Confidence (and Why You Should). New York Times. [Online] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/smarter-living/how-to-improve-self-confidence.html- retrieved on 20.6.20
  12. Williams L. (2013). Commitment to sport and exercise: re-examining the literature for a practical and parsimonious model. Journal of preventive medicine and public health = Yebang Uihakhoe chi46 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S35–S42.

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