Motivation (noun): the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior; "We did not understand his motivation"; "He acted with the best of motives."
Let's translate this into our language!
- Desired Goal: Fat loss, weight gain, muscle mass gain, improved resistance, better performance, etc.
- Reason/Purpose/Motives: I'm not comfortable with my body, I want to be stronger, and I want to have a body like "that".
- Direction: The decision to start working out.
- Behavior: Working out!
In a simple way, I would describe motivation as weightlifting of the mind. Why is that? Well, after giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that there are three kinds of motivation in bodybuilding inside our minds, the one that comes before, the one that comes during, and the one that comes AFTER our workouts. /p>
That's right! Although the definition defines motivation as something that happens before the behavior, the results of that behavior gives us a feeling of reward that makes us want to repeat the same behavior over and over, thus becoming a motivation (and the most important of all), occurring as a cycle.
1 / Body Image
That kind of motivation is not very difficult to get. In fact, our society today, gives us this type of motivation all the time. There isn't a day when we don't see a picture in a magazine of this healthy-looking gal with a perfect waist, flat belly and perfect legs, or this guy with an awesome and enviable six-pack and huge biceps.
This makes us aspire to be like them, and it is ALWAYS possible to accomplish this. Of course, the difficult part of it all is to put ourselves into action and start or keep working out and eating healthy.
2 / Working Out
I love the feeling of working out, being at the gym, feeling my muscles contract during every repetition, giving me the sensation that I'm putting effort on my body that will bring a reward. Listening to my favorite artists, giving me the impulse to keep going.
The difficult part here is sometimes we get tired and we may think of giving up, but after working out, motivation type 3 will come effortlessly, for free!
3 / Results
Looking at the results in the mirror is great. Comparing my old photos to my present photos where I can watch the difference makes me feel awesome. After every workout I feel like I accomplished something. I could even compare it to closing a business deal or reaching a set goal. This makes me want to keep going! It's like fuel!
Real World Motivation
After interviewing some people (friends, gym-buddies, trainers and family), these are the general answers I got from those who work out:
Why do you workout?
What motivates you?
What prevents you from working out?
- I don't have the time
- I don't have the motivation
So for those who haven't started working out (those who need motivation to have motivation) this is where this article and I come in. And for those who need a little push to keep going, here are my tips for each type of motivation.
Motivation Type 1 /// Body Image And Goal Setting
This motivation type applies to everyone, even if you already work out, it will always work for you.
Choose a role model
Get an image of the body you aspire to have, and always have it in mind. It could help if you kept it next to your bathroom or closet mirror or pasted on your fridge door. This tip is very old school but for many, very effective. Especially if what you're trying to watch is your diet, it will help you to avoid stuffing your mouth with your favorite fast food plate and desserts.
Do some research
Do you know how many benefits working out and eating right will bring to you physically as well as mentally? My friend, they are ENDLESS. From having an attention-calling body to optimizing every working cell inside it! And we're not talking just about the benefits, we could also write an endless list of illnesses we may prevent by working out. Working out is one of the best methods to prevent physical and mental illnesses.
Motivation Type 2 /// The Workout
Listen to your favorite music
Whether I'm doing cardio or weight lifting; listening to my favorite music has always helped me. It puts me in the mood to keep going. When I'm going to do an exercise that I don't particularly enjoy (most involve leg exercises) I listen to what I call my "power track", that song that gets it out all of me. I try to change it from time to time, choosing my favorite song at the moment. Believe me, this will help you perform those last 2 reps or even an extra one.
Have a gym buddy
If none of your friends like to work out, you can still socialize with people at the gym. If you're not that social, consider that the people in the gym are also trying to achieve similar goals and talk to them. A gym buddy will encourage you and even help if you were planning on missing a workout, him/her going to the gym will make you want to be there.
Remember your goals
As you work out, remember why you're doing it. If you don't have this present all the time, you will lose purpose and will be tempted to give up. Remember your role model, your inspiration. Imagine the results.
Life is all about challenges against certain circumstances and knowing how to handle them. For me, surpassing my latest achievement always makes me feel great. Improving can help you to feel better about yourself.
Motivation Type 3 /// Results!
Keep a record. Bodybuilding.com has provided us with what I believe is one of the most valuable tools for keeping a record, BodySpace. I recently discovered this amazing tool. If you still don't have a BodySpace I suggest you sign up. Here I can keep a record of everything from my weight and body fat percentage to my lifting stats. That's not all, I can even make comparisons with the automatic graphing system, watching myself improve.
Nothing beats the comparison pictures though. It amazes me to see the improvement in each period of time and makes me want to keep on going. This will also help you meet new people with similar goals, and even if you don't see them physically; encouraging members could count as "gym-buddies", they will give you feedback on results (motivation type 3), encourage you to keep on going to the gym (motivation type 1), and inspire you as role models (motivation type 1).
Why Motivation Type 3 Is Best
In regards to psychology, Pavlov, Skinner and Thorndike contributed to a theory on how we learn. They called it "operant conditioning". This theory explains that receiving different stimuli (results) after a certain behavior (working out/eating right) can result in an increase or decrease of such behavior.
In bodybuilding, a positive reinforcement would be the satisfactory consequence of working out, when we receive something positive after our "behavior". For example, the gains in muscle mass are considered to be a positive reinforcement which will lead us to repeat the behavior (working out). So we work out again, thus gaining more muscle mass and receiving another positive reinforcement.
The difference between a positive reinforcement and a negative one is that in a positive reinforcement mode we receive something positive after certain behavior. In a negative reinforcement something that displeases us (called aversive stimulus) is taken away.
For example, after doing some cardio work the result is a drop in body fat. If you consider excessive body fat as a burden, then you're implementing a negative reinforcement, thus making you want to repeat the behavior.
After working out has become a habit and we reach our goals, then different stimuli come into play to keep working out, making us to go back to our habit.
A positive punishment involves receiving something we dislike. For example, if we could run for an extended period of time without any troubles after conditioning and working on cardio and we suddenly stopped doing it consistently, we would become tired after running just a couple of minutes. The pain in our lungs and shortened breath would be our positive punishments, thus making us go back to training. Or perhaps gaining fat could also be considered a positive punishment.
A negative punishment involves something pleasant being taken away. For example, the loss of muscle mass.
To turn bodybuilding into a habit, we should go through all these types of motivation and then, after motivation type 3 is reached, we will be motivated to continue.
So follow my tips on motivation and make bodybuilding your favorite habit!
- "Definition of motivation". Online free English dictionary. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/motivation
- Carver, Charles. Teoras de la personalidad. Pearson-Prentice Hall editorial. Mexico City. 1997. Translated by Mara Elena Ortiz from "Perspectives on Personality, 3rd edition". Pp. 339-340