One of the biggest challenges people deal with when following a training program is staying motivated through its entirety.
Maybe you've experienced this before: The first couple of weeks you're excited about a new program, but then you hit a rut. It's not as "fun" as it was at first. Going to the gym several days a week grows monotonous. The novelty wears off and you miss a day, then you miss two days, and then you're off the rails. Worst-case scenario, you drop out of the program entirely and you're back at square one, wondering what you need to do to stay motivated, to keep that fire in your belly, so you can stay consistent and reach your goals the next time you start a training program.
While I can deliver you the absolute best training and nutrition plans to follow, I can't fill you with the motivation required to be dedicated to the plan every single day. Yes, I hope my daily examples in my Train With Jim series on social media will help you to stay motivated, but there are times when, for whatever reason, the road ahead seems treacherous.
So, let's tackle the issue of motivation head-on, with real-world tools and strategies you can use to maintain your focus and stay on track.
Here are my top six tips for staying motivated, no matter what has you down:
The Internet offers a convenient way for like-minded people to come together for discussion and support in pursuit of a common goal. Social media communities like my JYM Army Facebook page and Bodybuilding.com's BodySpace are great ways to talk with other people around the world about training and nutrition. And not just talk, but celebrate accomplishments, share in the struggles, and support one another through it all.
No matter what program you're following, you'll achieve far better results when you frequently discuss your fitness goals and progress (or even lack thereof!) with others, in person or online.
When I drop by the JYM Army Facebook group page, it provides the same sense of comradery I used to experience training at Gold's Gym in Manchester, Connecticut, in the late 1980s—only now the comradery is in a digital environment.
Motivation Tip: Don't just join a community like the JYM Army Facebook page, stay active on it. The most active users get the best results.
Being part of an online community like the JYM Army, following a challenge, and engaging frequently (daily, weekly) with others doing the challenge, is about as active as you can get. Those who are deeply engaged will see better before-and-after results. Coincidence? I think not!
The more you know, the better your results. I can guarantee that! That's why every one of my programs are not only designed to deliver results in muscle mass, strength, and fat loss—they're also designed to teach you something about training.
In Shortcut to Size, for example, thousands of people not only got insanely stronger and more muscular in 12 weeks, but they also learned about linear periodization and frequent change in weight and rep ranges.
In Shortcut to Shred, people learned that it's possible to get leaner while getting stronger. And they also learned that cardioacceleration between sets is not only an efficient and effective way to get in cardio and burn fat, but it can actually improve strength.
Each one of my programs is designed to teach you something while producing results. Understanding how you're getting the results you're seeing makes for great gym motivation.
Motivation Tip: Never stop learning. Thanks to the digital age, it's now easier than ever to find information on training and nutrition.
My website, JimStoppani.com, as well as Bodybuilding.com, are great digital resources, and so are social media channels like Instagram and Facebook. And don't forget books like my Encyclopedia of Muscle & Strength.
If you know it, share it. That's what I call paying it forward.
Few things are as gratifying as knowing that some tip or piece of advice—whether it pertains to rep ranges, food choices, or something as simple as a change of grip on an exercise—helped someone advance toward their goal. That sense of pride and satisfaction from helping a fellow iron warrior can be a big motivator to get you to the gym and crush it.
Plus, if you want people to take you seriously, you need to look the part. Often that's my biggest motivator. If my knowledge and expertise is so effective, I'd better be able to demonstrate it on my own body first.
Motivation Tip: There's a fine line between being helpful and being annoying. Don't be that person who feels the need to correct every other gym member's form. Share the knowledge you've gained with people you think will be receptive. Start with friends, family, and online acquaintances. Don't approach strangers, in person or online, until you've gained some respect and recognition in a particular setting that warrants you offering your two cents.
Few of us, including myself and even the current Mr. Olympia, are happy with the way we currently look. No matter how lean and muscular any of us are, we're always trying to improve upon it. Some call that body dysmorphia. I call it dedication.
But, in those times when that drive to continue dropping body fat and sculpting more muscle seems to be waning, you can literally look to, and at, others. Scroll through pictorials like Bodybuilding.com's We 'Mirin series for some great inspirational photos that'll have you sprinting to the gym in search of results like the ones portrayed. Knowing the sacrifice that others made to get into great shape helps me realize that I can make the same necessary sacrifices to reach my own lofty goals.
Motivation Tip: Don't let the admiration of others people's physiques backfire and make you feel worse about yourself. We all travel different paths, and we all have different genetics and body types.
Also, take age into consideration. If you're 40 years old, a 22-year-old bodybuilder may not be the most applicable role model for you; there are plenty of extremely fit 40-year-old physique competitors to model yourself after. Likewise, if you're 18 years old and just starting to lift, don't grow discouraged because a 30-year-old at your gym has more muscle than you. That person may have 10 or more years of training experience on you.
Let other people's physiques provide inspiration, not discouragement. "Success leaves clues," as they say. If you admire someone who's extremely fit, find out what he or she did to get so fit, and then incorporate that into your own program and lifestyle.
Not to me—to your favorite music! Having good music that you look forward to can help you stay motivated and get to the gym. Once at the gym, that music can help you have a better workout.
Research confirms this! A study I presented at the National Strength and Conditioning Association, using recreational bodybuilders as my subjects, highlighted that those who were able to listen to their preferred playlist completed an average of 1 rep more per set. This may not sound like much, but 11 reps to failure on the same exercise using the same weight as a set of 10 reps is 10 percent more work performed.
Ten percent more reps performed over time will really add up!
Motivation Tip: Listen to your workout playlist only when you train. You'll be inspired to get to the gym so you can listen to the music you've been craving.
Watch one of those Snickers commercials about being a diva and you'll understand what I'm alluding to. Often in life, the things that disappoint us, upset us, and depress us are silly things that add up and make us want to give in and give up. The stresses of life can derail the fitness plan that was supposed to help derail the stress to begin with.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Sometimes we just need to get over ourselves. There are plenty of people struggling with much bigger problems, so try to put yours into perspective.
Motivation Tip: Check yourself frequently. Are your worries and anxieties getting the best of you? Are you losing perspective and not being grateful for what you have?
Surround yourself with others who will also help to keep you in check and hold you accountable. Real friends will tell you what you need to hear, when you need to hear it. Have an open mind and hear them out.
Visit JimStoppani.com for more workouts, training tips, and articles on nutrition and supplementation.