What Is The Best Way To Keep Motivation High While Preparing For A Competition?

What is the best way to keep motivation high for competition? Motivation is sometimes easy to keep up by listening to good music. However, if you are preparing for a competition that may not be enough... Stop avoiding reality and check this out!

TOPIC: What Is The Best Way To Keep Motivation High While Preparing For A Competition?

The Question:

Motivation is sometimes easy to keep up just by listening to some good music. However, if you are preparing for a competition and have been dieting for many weeks music may not be the only thing you need to keep motivated.

What is the best way to keep motivation high while preparing for a competition?

Are there changes to your routine that might help? What are those?

What kind of change if any would you make to your diet that would raise your spirits?

Bonus Question: Have you or someone you know lost there motivation and just stopped their training altogether? What did you, or the person you know, do to repair or resolve the problem?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1. BurningHeart

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      2. buffguy900

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      3. Blink41

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      3. rockinmoroccan

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        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - BurningHeart
View This Author's BodySpace Profile And Contact Them Here.

Motivation is sometimes easy to keep up just by listening to some good music. However, if you are preparing for a competition and have been dieting for many weeks music may not be the only thing you need to keep motivated.


Motivation, it is what drives us to get out of bed in the morning. It makes us brush our teeth and take a shower. Motivation makes us get dressed and head to work or school, and from there to do your best. It makes us walk into the gym and put our body through hell.

It is what makes us spend our hard earned money on supplements to improve ourselves, rather than unhealthy things that some people rather spend their money on. Motivation is what makes us do this routine over and over, hundreds and thousands of times to transform our bodies from the "norm" to the "elite" of society.

For those who compete, finding the motivation to go through this routine can be tough at times because they will be under extreme scrutiny at the competition. Everything must be perfect; there can not be room for error. This means one cannot slack or hold back in their routines. The good news is that there is a way out of this, a way to get the motivation to propel you to the top of the game.

If you workout, this article is for you. Motivation will be discussed, the different types of ways that it is achieved. If you compete, then definitely read and absorb these motivational methods. It could just give you that very edge over your opponents.

What is the best way to keep motivation high while preparing for a competition?

The best ways to keep motivated for a competition are audio, visual, and mental stimuli. Audio stimuli consist of people's appreciative comments, music, and training partner encouragement. Visual stimuli consist of your progress pictures, weight room mirrors, motivational posters, and seeing the physiques of others.

Mental stimuli consist of the sense of accomplishment one has when achieving goals, the boost in confidence from having an improving physique, and the pump and the rush achieved during a workout. Diet and routine changes can also be made collectively with the benefits of the types of stimuli, and those will be discussed later in the article.

Audio Stimuli

-> Appreciative Comments

If you have been working out and made even a slight progress, you've most likely heard an appreciative comment made by someone. You know what I am talking about, when someone just can't help themselves to tell you how bigger you are, or how much leaner you've gotten. This positive reinforcement is awesome.

We are hard on ourselves because we see our body every day and it's tough to notice any change day by day. When someone sees us, who hasn't seen us in a while, they instantly notice our ongoing transformation. These comments will always continue to stream in, as long as we persist to keep ourselves training. That is enough motivation in itself, but there is more.

-> Music

    Music can make people do crazy things; it puts people in a certain mood pertaining to the type of music played. Music is used at sports events to pump up the players and the crowd. It is used at funerals to increase the sorrow of the audience towards the dead. It is used at weddings to increase the mood of the joyous occasion. And of course music is used during the pose down by bodybuilders in a competition to keep a rhythm to their poses and to entertain the audience.

Music increases endorphin release in the brain which can give you a mental pump and the motivation to constantly hit the weights over and over. It blocks out your sense of fatigue and pushes you to work harder. This is why music is a great motivational tool for your workouts. It can help you get those last 2 or 3 reps in a set out, something that can add up and be a factor in a competition.

The best type of music to use is something that pertains to what you are doing. During cardio you want to look for music that has a steady beat to it and upbeat lyrics, similar to your elevated heart rate. This music could include techno or dance.

For weightlifting you want to look for music that has explosive lyrics and music. Often people like to use hard rock or rap for the abrasive lyrics, which increases adrenaline release. Whatever type of music you prefer, it can provide some great motivation.

-> Training Partner Encouragement

      Ever stepped into the gym and did your exercises half-@ssed because you just weren't in the mood? I can nearly guarantee that you did not have a training partner with you at that time. When working out with someone that has the same motivation and goals as yourself, you push your body further.

Alone you can slack off and no one will know, however with a training partner you do not want to look weak in front of them, thus the workouts become more intense. The motivation goes even further as the training partner encourages you on as you pump out set after set.

A long-term training partner is a top factor in keeping motivation for competitions. You show up to workout because your partner is waiting for you, and vice-versa. As the weeks and months pass, it is motivating in itself to see the progress you two have made.

Of course a training partner is used for more than just encouragement, a training partner means you never have to worry about not having a spotter. They also help rack and unrack the weights so your workouts can focus more on the exercises, and less time just changing the plates out.

partners partners
Click Image To Enlarge.
A Good Training Partner Can Bring Up The Intensity.

      Last but not least, have you ever dazed off thinking about something between sets and notice that your rest time may have been too long? Well with a partner there is no need to wonder if you are taking too long between sets.

Once you do a set, then your partner does, you know your rest time is now up. This makes the workouts faster and more efficient. All in all, a training partner is a great thing to have for your workouts, it's the best free supplement.

Visual Stimuli

-> Progress Pictures

      We are our harshest critics. We often forget how our bodies looked when we first started working out. When we see a reflection of ourselves, we check out our body and weigh the good and bad of it. And since we see ourselves many times a day, it does not appear that we are making much progress. This is where progress pictures are useful.

Take multiple pictures of yourself when starting a routine, then at the end of that routine take another set with the same lighting and surroundings. The results are pleasantly surprising; we actually see what a difference we've made with our body.

+ Click To Enlarge.
Kimberly Castle Lots Over 30lbs Before Her First Contest!
      Progress pictures are especially important for bodybuilders competing. Not only can you see your overall progress, but if a certain body part is lacking, progress pictures can prove if a change of routine helped that muscle or not.

Over a period of time, this constant progress motivates us to keep going and never stop working out. It is never too late to take progress pictures. If you haven't taken any yet, do it now. You'll still be working out in months and years to come, and you'll be surprised at the continual change of your body, even if you aren't a new bodybuilder.

-> Weight Room Mirrors

Working out in front of a mirror is the ultimate motivator. Being able to see your muscles move and contour when lifting weights gives you an awesome pump. We underestimate what our bodies look like, especially when lifting weights. Mirrors solve this, and combined with the proper lighting that shows the contrasts on your body, it makes for an extremely motivating image. All made with your own body.

The ideal lighting to show contrast is having the source of lighting coming from the side of your body and the mirror. This allows your muscle definition to show up in the mirror, rather than be hidden.

A light source in the rear of you will make your body appear dark, covering up muscle definition. The light source in front of you will make your body appear bright, however with little contrast. Having a darker skin tone will nicely improve contrast, so if you have a light skin tone you may want to check out tanning supplies.

-> Motivational Posters

      Having motivational posters hung up in your home, office, or weight room if you have a home gym reminds you of why you workout. Seeing great bodybuilders and knowing that they had to go through the same grueling lifestyle makes you want to continue achieve your goals.

Motivational posters can be found on the Internet and can range from actual pictures of bodybuilders to scenery with an inspirational quote. You can even make your own motivational posters at this link.

-> The Physiques of Others

Of course you workout to better yourself and reach your goals. However everywhere you look there is an overweight person around. To add to this you see these same people drinking and smoking like there's no tomorrow. As bodybuilders, this fuels us to work even harder in the gym to avoid ever becoming like those people.

When training for a competition, it's easy to think to yourself, "Is all of this worth it?" The answer arrives as an outstanding "Yes!" every time you see these people who constantly make bad decisions about their body.

For every punishing minute you are in the gym furthering your body, someone else in the world is getting drunk while smoking and eating a meal that would make you gag if you'd see it. That is what keeps us going, hoping we can achieve our goals and be an inspiration for others.

Mental Stimuli

-> Achieving Goals

How great did it feel when you first rode a bicycle, when graduating from school, getting your first job, had your first date, or getting your first compliment on your training?

The best part of setting goals is when we can finally say we achieved them. It's a great feeling to have some hard evidence on how much we've progressed and that all our work was worth it. This is why workout logs are great to have. Looking back at your first workout and the weights used combined with your progress pictures is a real inspiration to continue to work towards your goals.

A great way to create and maintain motivation is to set some goals, long term and short term. When you reach your short term goals, your long term goals now become your new short term goals. Then it's time to set new long term goals.

Repeating this cycle will keep you motivated to continue your routine. Whether your aspiration is to increase your tricep size to better match your body's proportion or to just add 20 lbs. of lean mass, setting goals will make these aspirations easier and more fun to obtain.

-> Boost of Confidence

      Think back to what made you want to start working out in the first place. Was it to get leaner? Or was it to put on muscle? Was it to attract the opposite sex? Was it a combination of all the above? Whatever reason you had for working out, it all resulted in a boost of confidence.

When you workout you feel better about yourself, you are doing something that not many people can handle. Even further along when you notice a change in yourself, your confidence skyrockets.

Confidence improves all aspects of your life including attraction, job, family, and self-esteem benefits. As a competitor looking for motivation, confidence gives you that inspiration to continue on with your training; to make your body even better than what it is now.

Working out = confidence, and confidence = motivation. Motivation = working out. It is all one cycle of benefits. Stay in the cycle, and good things can come from it.

-> The Pump and Rush During A Workout

Discussing the motivation for working out would not be complete without mentioning the "Pump" and the "Rush". There is that great feeling when all the blood is rushing to the muscles that makes you feel like a superhero.

Posing in the mirror after an intense set and seeing your muscles pumped up is one of the most motivational sights ever. Combined with the endorphin release in your brain, the pump and the rush make you just feel awesome.

When preparing for a competition, it may be hard sometimes to bring yourself to the gym. However once there, and a couple of intense sets pumped out, the all familiar feeling of why you are putting yourself through tough training comes along. Working out is in the top 2 greatest ways of making yourself feel good naturally. And the top reason only lasts for a short amount of time.

Are there changes to your routine that might help? What are those?

There are changes to your workout routine that helps increase your motivation. Such changes include switching up your weightlifting and cardio workouts. Going to the gym should not be a chore or job. It should not be a constant, mundane experience but rather a means to escape from the day's stresses.

When planning a workout routine, it shouldn't consist of the same exercises, with the same rep range, and the same weight each time. Mix it up by doing a different exercise each week for a body part. For triceps one week you may do dips, while the week after you do close-grip bench press.

The following week you may do triceps extensions. Switching up your exercises not only keeps the workouts refreshing, but also works the muscles in different ways from different angles, preventing from hitting a plateau.

When you are keeping a workout log of all these types of exercises, it is actually fun to see which ones you are progressing the most in.

Besides changing up the exercises, it is also good to switch up the weight and rep range in your routine. If you are currently training with moderate weight and moderate reps, try switching to low reps with higher weight. This breaks away from the same routine of doing a set number of reps at set amount of weight.

Similar to switching the exercises done, changing the rep and weight scheme prevents your muscles from adapting to your routine by working them in a different way.

As for cardio workouts, there are some tips to keep them lively. First of all music is a key essential. As mentioned in the earlier part of this article, music that has a distinct beat and rhythm that matches your heartbeat it is best for cardio. It takes your mind off of the fatigue and allows you to zone out and concentrate solely on the music.

A second tip for cardio routines is switching up the type of cardio. There are many ways to do cardio besides running. There is swimming, heavy bag training, cycling, jump roping, sports, and ellipticals, among many other things. Be creative with cardio, it shouldn't be something that you dread. As a child you would perform massive amounts of cardio playing outside, there is no reason why you cannot still do that.

Another way to keep cardio fun is to get your training partner in on your cardio sessions too. As with weightlifting, doing cardio by alone allows for slacking off. With a training partner, you do not let yourself slack because you try to keep up with your partner, and vice versa.

Think of it as leaning back to back with someone. Without that person there you'd fall down. However leaning back to back, you two are keeping yourselves standing up.

What kind of change if any would you make to your diet that would raise your spirits?

First of all if your diet is not healthy, that is the first change that should be made. A healthy diet will raise your spirits more than anything. This is because when you eat healthy, you feel healthy. A change to your diet can also include supplement changes. Some of the popular supplements proven to be effective in workouts are creatine, protein shakes, and multivitamins.

Creatine is a widely popular and recommended supplement to take, along with a post workout protein shake. Multivitamins are also strongly recommended to replenish your body with needed vitamins and minerals that you may not get enough or any at all during the day.

Along with the most popular supplements, you could also try new ones. There are many supplements out there, and trying new ones is always fun. If you find one that is effective, then you could include it in your routine. Some supplements that are making their way more into mainstream bodybuilding are: NO (Nitric Oxide), BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids), and Glutamine.

As for the nutrition in food, the proper balance is needed or it will hurt your gains, and lower your spirits. However ingesting the proper balanced does not mean that you have to eat plain chicken breasts for the rest of your life. There are many types of healthy food, and many ways to cook the food.

Be creative with your cooking. There are also resources to learn homemade recipes for your healthy food. For healthy snacks visit this link, for protein shake variations visit this link, and for healthy meals visit this link.

If you are not sure on how your body uses nutrients, or in what kind of combination they should be ingested, the basic rundown is listed below:


      - Healthy fats are required in a bodybuilding diet because they aid in maintaining healthy hair and skin, promoting healthy cell function, function in energy storage and

vitamins A





      , and


      can only be digested and used by the body in the combination with fats. Healthy fats include such foods as olive oil, flax seeds and nuts. Fats should equal 20-25% of your total caloric intake.

Protein At least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is recommended for a weightlifting routine, protein aids in the building and repairing of your muscles. Healthy forms of protein include fish, lean red meat, poultry, protein shakes, eggs and skim milk. Protein should equal 35-40% of your total caloric intake.

Carbohydrates Carbs aid in the immediate usage of energy. Carbs require less water to digest than fat and proteins; therefore they are the most commonly used energy source in the body. Healthy forms of carbohydrates would be foods such as wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal and nuts. Carbohydrates should equal 40-45% of your total caloric intake.

Total calories can be roughly calculated by multiplying your body weight times 15. Then consider these factors:

If Bulking Consume 6-8 balanced meals with a total of 500-1000 excess calories.

If Cutting Consume 6-8 small balanced meals with a total deficit of 500-1000 calories.

Sleep Don't forget sleep, it is an essential part of nutrition too. The right amount of sleep is needed to maintain high motivation, and 7-8 straight hours are required to repair your muscles adequately and for your CNS (Central Nervous System) to recover.

    Avoid drinking anything 2 hours before you go to sleep, use the bathroom right before bedtime, cut out all lights in the room, loosen and relieve any pressure you may have on your bladder before bed, do not take a nap in the day, and relax yourself, as to not worry about any days' events.

Bonus Question:
Have you or someone you know lost there motivation and just stopped their training altogether? What did you, or the person you know, do to repair or resolve the problem?

Yes I can speak personally for that as I have lost motivation and stopped training altogether, but those days are long gone. There was a time about 2 and a half years ago when I was in my normal routine, and I wouldn't look forward to my workouts. My diet was bad; I'd eat anything I wanted.

Actually looking at nutrition facts to know what I was taking in was non-existent. However my diet wasn't my big problem, I wanted to play too much. Back then I'd rather watch TV, hang out with friends, or play video games. I would skip workouts sometimes just to do those things.

When I'd workout I would just go through the motions and try to get done as quickly as possible, just so I could get home to play an MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing) game before everyone logged off. I know for sure that the only thing keeping me working out was my training partner; we would workout at his house.

Hence me saying previously that a training partner is a valuable asset to have. So I went at that pace for about 6 months, not making too much progress. That's when my only crutch that was keeping me working out went away.

My training partner's work schedule got changed, and he was no longer able to workout at the times I could. I was a little disappointed at first, but after a few days off without "having" to workout I was actually glad that I had free time those days. I could stay out with my friends late or play my MMORPG uninterrupted. Talk about a winner there, huh?

I told myself I'd start working out again, since I had a little equipment at home, of course that didn't work. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. I had lost most of my muscle mass and was gaining body fat. I didn't notice this until at work one day when one of my friends I hadn't seen in a while told me, "Whoa you stopped working out?"

If I were to think back on it, that was what got me working out again. It felt bad to actually have someone give you a negative comment after hearing all the positive comments when working out. People notice your physique change very much more than you do because they do not see you everyday.

All was not lost though; I ended up beating my period of laziness. Soon after my friend told me that, luckily my workout partner had his work schedule changed. Things were looking up. I went to workout with him for the first time in months, it was a Monday.

I remember the day clearly, because Mondays were our full-body days that include a set of push-ups followed immediately by a set of pull-ups. After doing those 3 supersets, which I have done fairly easily in the past, I felt as if I had to throw up. When I got home I told myself I would not ever stop working out again. I was going to get in shape and stay in shape.

So I cut back drastically on the MMORPG (thankfully I totally ditched that addiction a couple of months ago), and workouts started coming first. I started taking an interest in bodybuilding and reading up on it; this is when I found Bodybuilding.com. I started looking at nutrition facts, and started a bulk cycle. That was my first actual bulk cycle, and I did not do well on it, but I have learned since then.

I never have willingly (had to take a break for surgery) stopped working out since then. I am in the best shape I have ever been in, and constantly getting better day by day. I look at the bodybuilding lifestyle this way, which happens to also be my forum signature...

"True satisfaction does not come from being max level on a game, being the richest person on the block, stuffing your mouth with junk everyday, how many people you slept with, how many hours of television you watched, how much alcohol you can drink, or what kind of car you drive... it's taking your body and transforming it into a work of art that every man, woman, and child aged 3 through 100, from any part of the world, can look at you and know that you are greater than a normal individual."

That is my motivation, and will continue to be for the rest of my life. I hope you find your inspiration too, and when you ask yourself if it's all worth it, you can look back on that same motivation and say "Hell yes."

2nd Place - buffguy900
View This Author's BodySpace Profile And Contact Them Here.

Motivation is sometimes easy to keep up just by listening to some good music. However, if you are preparing for a competition and have been dieting for many weeks music may not be the only thing you need to keep motivated.

What is the best way to keep motivation high while preparing for a competition?

Motivation is the driving force of life; it explains why living creatures behave the way they do. It is the sometimes silent but always prevalent reason for our actions. Achieving your goals requires motivation; there is no way around that.

Motivation often arises from a variety of sources. Understanding how to create motivation in yourself is a key aspect not only of bodybuilding, but of life. Learning this powerful skill may take years and it often represents a continuous accumulation of independent experiences.

All behavior requires motivation. Defining and achieving goals is an explicit example of this. The following figure illustrates goals which occur on a variety of timescales.

All of these goals require motivation, but due to the nature of each goal the motivation may come from a different source. For example, sometimes it is enough to just crank up the volume on your Ipod to achieve your goal, but that is technique is likely to fail in the long run.

For this reason, it is important to identify the scope of your goal and adjust your motivational tactics accordingly. Goals require motivational techniques which can endure to achieve the desired end results. This means that goals which occur on a longer time scale will require motivation for a longer period of time. The process for creating motivation is as follows.

First, you must clearly identify the goal. Next, develop a strategy to attain that goal. To create the motivation, an internal discussion must occur. This involves weighing alternative actions which can affect the goal. Think about how you may feel when reflecting on making one decision over another.

Be smart and think ahead to make the appropriate choice for yourself instead of looking back and being disappointed after the action has been done.

For example, suppose I have planned on burning 300 calories doing cardio. Now, here I am half way through my cardio session with no energy and with a whopping 150 calories still to go... do I stop or keep going? I think about how I would feel after the cardio session, or hours later, even days or weeks later.

How would I feel if I had continued though the session versus if I had stopped half way through? Does it really matter? When I honestly evaluate the decision in that way then I feel confident in my choice (of course to keep going!!).

This raises another interesting point. Consider that all decisions are made in the present. You cannot make a decision retroactively; they are only made right now, even though their effects may be long-lasting. You are constantly making decisions at every point in your life and those decisions determine who you are.

For example, if you decide that you want more muscle on your frame, you can only start acting toward that goal right now. You can't make the decision five years ago and subsequently instantly reap the products of years of hard work.

In fact, if you are dedicated to achieving that goal, you must continue to make the decision for the next five years. Likewise, if you are training for a competition, you must continuously make decisions which aim to achieve your specific goals. This will continue for the duration of your contest preparations: every week, every day, every workout, every meal, every ounce of water... continuously!

Success comes from constantly making the decision to pursue your goals. There is no easy way out, but at least the path is clear. People may lose motivation for long-sighted goals because of the lack of instant gratification.

Instant gratification has a bad reputation because it is often identified as the motivation for a lot of unwanted behavior: overeating, not exercising, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies, etc. However, I propose a reevaluation of this concept.

I believe you can get instant gratification from pursuing a long-sighted goal. Since your decisions can only be made right now, you are constantly deciding to achieve your goal. Everything you do and don't do can affect this goal. When you do your best, you can reap the instant gratification from knowing you are a bit closer to reaching your goal.

For example, it makes me happy when I eat a meal that is exactly what I have planned it to be. Sometimes that means skipping out on dessert with the family or not eating pizza with my friends.

The interesting thing is, this is generally received as, "No pie for you? Oh, man... you're missing out... this is so delicious!" But soon enough, the pie is gone and we're all back where we started: sitting around the table not eating. However, I am one step closer to my goal and that is a delicious treat that nobody else at that table tastes.

They are the ones missing out. This may not seem difficult, but I do it every meal, every workout, every day, every week for years. I am willing to do this because I love the sport. I love the instant gratification that I get from knowing that I am achieving my long-term goals.

This sport is highly individual and because of that each person must find their own motivation to continue to accomplish their goals. Below, I have listed (in no particular order) various motivational techniques, quotes, internal conversations, etc. which keep me on track to achieve my goals.

These work for me personally and may work well for others as is. More likely, they will get you thinking about other motivational tactics which better suit your own personality.

  • Stretch
  • Take two full, deep breaths (fill and empty the lungs all the way)
  • Breathe, meditate
  • The strongest part of my body is my mind
  • Contest preparation is only temporary
  • I don't let anything stand in my way
  • Will your muscles to grow
  • You have to want it
  • There is always somebody training harder than you
  • Imagine yourself on stage
  • Imagine yourself receiving the first place trophy
  • Count down
  • Count up
  • Track your progress
  • Listen to music
  • Remove yourself mentally
  • Pray
  • Talk to other people
  • Internalize your decision and don't look back
  • One day at a time, one meal at a time, one rep at a time
  • Every day
  • Scream and yell, get angry
  • Don't look at anyone else
  • You are a machine
  • You don't eat now because its not time to eat now
  • Because you know you can do better
  • Take photos
  • Take measurements
  • Watch a bodybuilding competition
  • Watch Pumping Iron
  • Go to Bodybuilding.com
  • Do something that's not bodybuilding and then realize how much you miss it and need it
  • Think about where you would be if you were not bodybuilding (scary thought, huh?)
  • How did you get here? Because I am doing what I am doing right now

In addition, Bodybuilding.com provides a social network for communicating with other people who have similar fitness goals. BodySpace is a new addition to the site which allows users to explicitly track their goals and share their progress with the world.

This is a great way to keep up motivation because it emphasizes the key aspects of achieving your goals. It takes hard work, continuous effort and the support from fellow fitness enthusiasts is the icing on the cake (or the dextrose in the post workout shake... either way its sweet.).

Are there changes to your routine that might help? What are those?

Changing up the workout routine can be a great way to kick up the motivation. I feel it is important to always push yourself and do the best that you can. For me, this means being dynamic and always learning and trying new things.

You have to keep an open mind to make it happen. For example, try a new exercise that you have never done before. Even if you think it is not going to be helpful, it may lead you somewhere you would not have gone otherwise.

I used to think kneeling cable crunches were useless and I never did them. I would see other people in the gym performing this exercise and I thought it looked ridiculous. However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I tried it. It took a while but I came to enjoy its unique benefits. I have been using this exercise for years now with great success and I have continued to develop my technique in its execution.

You can also try different cardio routine or new cardio equipment (more).

Although you cannot dispute the effectiveness of the basics (treadmill and bike) there seems to be a constant flow of "revolutionary" equipment which claims to help you burn fat and build muscle faster than ever. Use this to your advantage and try something new.

You can also try lifting at a different time of day or in a different gym altogether. If you listen to music, try not listening for a change and if you don't listen to music, try listening for a change. You can wear clothes to the gym which shows off your weak points so you train them extra hard. You can wear clothes which cover your body so you don't focus on how you look, only on how you perform.

You can scream when you do your sets if it pumps you up. In my opinion, if it works then it is justified because the only thing that matters in this sport is how you look on stage at the competition. There are many means to the same end goal.

Personally, that is one of my favorite aspects about the sport. It is highly individual, so you end up finding what works best for you. I think that learning and striving for your best is a lot of the fun in the sport. I am constantly discovering novel ways to take my mind and body to new heights.

What kind of change if any would you make to your diet that would raise your spirits?

The theme is variety when it comes to diet. The same foods every day can be tough and even more so when you are on low calories, but there are many ways to break this monotony.

I think the best technique is to perform a re-feed perhaps once per week during a low calorie diet. This will vary from person to person, but generally this entails reducing protein intake to 1 gram/lb bodyweight, reducing fat intake to less than 10 grams and increasing carbohydrate intake to 40% or so of maintenance calories.

The goal is to have a single day of higher calories with a focus on carbohydrates. This is a great way to jump start your metabolism, raise your energy levels and create enough mental satisfaction to last a week of low calories (hopefully). You can read more on the benefits of the re-feed here:

Another (similar) tactic is to cycle your carbohydrate intake. For example, a three day cycle may include one low, one medium and one high carbohydrate day.

The average daily caloric intake over the three days should be such that it achieves your desired goals (weight loss or gain), but each day may be drastically different. The benefits of this are similar to the re-feed.

Something that I have found effective is to try a new food or recipe each week. Cooking with different spices can make your boring chicken breast come to life! Try experimenting with Mrs. Dash, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, curry, garlic, etc. You can read up on some great healthy recipes here:

Changing the order of your meals is another easy way to create some added variety. Instead of eating eggs for breakfast, eat them for dinner (crazy, I know!). You can also try a new brand or flavor of protein or mix together your already favorite food choices.

Some great and mildly obscure combinations that I have found over the years include:

  • Whey protein and cottage cheese
  • Peanut butter and yam sandwich
  • Egg whites and EFA
  • Oatmeal and tuna
  • Egg whites and apples
  • Egg whites, yams, apples, rice, oatmeal and whey

It can get pretty interesting when you just start mixing all your food together. I think the most important point is to keep an open mind and never stop learning.

Bonus Question:
Have you or someone you know lost there motivation and just stopped their training altogether? What did you, or the person you know, do to repair or resolve the problem?

In 2005, I skipped out on a year of bodybuilding contests which I had originally planned on doing. I have never been more disappointed in my bodybuilding-self. I was 6 weeks into my pre contest diet, losing 1.5 - 2 pounds per week with a specific contest in mind.

Things came up in my life and I had to make a decision. I was moving and starting a summer internship which was important to me academically. For weeks, I vacillated on continuing the contest preparation and ultimately I decided to focus on the internship.

Once I was able to internalize this decision I committed myself to it. I was disappointed in myself for weeks and I don't know what I have missed out on by not pursuing those competitions.

However, I used this as additional motivation to work hard during my internship and it paid off. Because of my busy work schedule, I was forced to lift early in the morning, which is something that I had always dreaded. However, I adjusted to the change and I made great gains that summer in the gym. I found that I perform best when I utilize a morning workout and I have continued to do that since then.

The fact remains that I did not compete that summer and that disturbed me: I had failed my goal. One year later, I devoted myself to the contest preparations and focused on doing my best. I learned that I must internalize the decision which I make and commit to following through. After that point, there is no turning back.

The "secret" to success in bodybuilding is that you must love this sport. I love it and because of that I do the best that I can: every day, every meal, and every workout. I can do this for the rest of my life because I love it. If you don't love it then you're in for a world of pain and a lot of disappointment.

Bodybuilding can be very difficult, but I don't want it to be easy because I know I can do it despite the challenges it presents. This is the sport: the minutia, the internal hurdles you must overcome, the constant attention and dynamic challenge. This is my love. When I need motivation I remember this.

3rd Place - Blink41
View This Author's BodySpace Profile And Contact Them Here.

Motivation is very important, especially when your body is exhausted weeks before a competition.

-> Try New Supplements

Staying motivated when you have been dieting for weeks is very hard. Treat yourself to some new supplements, supplements that you have always wanted. You need that extra energy to keep yourself motivated. Change up your supplements routine. Don't just do the usual ON 100% Whey Protein, CEE...

Try a different protein, maybe casein protein. Instead of taking whey protein before your workouts, try CytoSport Muscle Milk. It claims to burn fat as well so you can cut off those extra pounds quickly before competition. Maybe try BSN NO Xplode if you haven't already. This supplement will give you intensity during your workout, helping you stay motivated to hit the weights hard!

-> Gym Partner

    A gym partner can help you tremendously during your workout. You will hit the weights even harder with his voice saying you can do it. By going to the gym with a workout partner, you will also get spots when you desperately need it. Therefore, you might hit a heavier weight than you normally could. The feeling you get when you break a plateau is the best feeling a bodybuilder could have.

-> Breaking a plateau

      Bodybuilding can be a frustrating sport at times. Imagine that you are stuck at a 135lb max bench for 6 months; you just want to stop right? You must be thinking that you are the most unlucky person in the world. Well, this can be a good thing too. Since you are benching 135lbs, you obviously can improve faster than those people who max at 400lbs.

Once you break this plateau, and you will, you will feel a natural high that can only be experience from bodybuilding. This is the most motivating feeling anybody can have; the feeling of hard work being paid off. That feeling alone is why people continue to workout, year after year.

-> Get Angry

    Everybody has gotten angry before. Channel this anger and aggression on the weights at the gym. You'll be amazed at the numbers you can hit in the gym. It doesn't matter if you're having problems with your friends, school, parents... the point is to hit weights, not walls.

-> Take A Before & After Picture

Perhaps the best thing you can do to stay motivated. Preparing for a competition takes a toll on both your body and your mind. Staying motivated every single day can be near impossible. However, by taking a before and after picture, you will see how much better your body looks.

Every time you feel unmotivated or tired, just look at you're before picture and see how much you changed for the better. The feeling you get looking at yourself near competition time is priceless; the veins popping out of your arms, the washboard abs, the thick defined legs... no better way to get motivated.

Are there changes to your routine that might help? What are those?

It is very important that you change your routine every few months so you won't get bored of workouts and stop bodybuilding as a whole. By changing your routine, you start to spice up your workouts. Don't just do the usual chest/triceps and back/biceps, change it up. Do chest/back and biceps/triceps.

Not only does that make you WANT to workout, but it also helps you build more muscle quickly. Now you might be wondering how. The explanation behind this is because your body needs a shock every once in a while. You need to change up the way you attack the muscles. By giving your body change, you will give your muscles a different strain, resulting in more muscle growth.

Changing your exercises is just as important as changing your routine. Do barbell bench press for a month and then switch it to dumbbell bench press for another month. If you get tired of both barbell and dumbbell, use cables. By doing so, you make bodybuilding fresh and exciting thus giving you more motivation for working out. Don't let yourself think bodybuilding is a chore, because it's not. Bodybuilding is a privilege, and must be treated like one.

Change up the time of the day you go to the gym. Try going in the morning as opposed to night time and see which one you like better. Again, the key is to keep bodybuilding fresh and exhilarating. Try going at night as well if you like the tranquility of nighttime. Usually I go in the middle of the day because that's when I have the utmost energy.

Go to different gyms if you can. Check out Gold's Gym, Bally total fitness, 24 hour fitness or LA fitness. By doing so, you will get to use different machines. Don't just do flat/incline bench press for the chest. There are tons of different ways you can hit the chest.

You can do cable chest press, chest dips, dumbbell flyes, one-arm dumbbell press and many different exercises. You will also meet new people. Don't just try to impress that one hot chick at the gym, there might be a million hot girls working out in Bally Total fitness.

Stop walking the treadmill for cardio! Nobody likes cardio, but it's essential if you are preparing for a competition. Do other forms of cardio such as swimming, playing basketball or soccer, using the Stairmaster, elliptical or stationary bike. Cardio won't be boring if you do a variety of it.

What kind of change if any would you make to your diet that would raise your spirits?

-> Healthy Snacks

Here's a list of some healthy snacks:

  • Whole grain crackers with some cheese
  • Whole grain bagel/bread with some peanut butter
  • A Granola Bar with 1 cup of low fat milk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Whole Grain, low-fat muffins
  • Dry cereal with some dry fruit

Here's a list of the top 10 unhealthy snacks that we should avoid (from askmen.com):

  • Deep fried Mars Bar
  • Potato Chips
  • Ben and Jerry's Peanut Putter Ice Cream
  • Big Mac
  • Pork Skin (I know, disgusting)
  • French Fries
  • 1 chicken thigh from KFC
  • Starbucks Frappuccino
  • Nacho with cheese
  • Krispy Kreme Doughnut

Eating healthy is very important for your body. Healthy foods such as the snacks I mentioned above, provides your body with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Nutrients give us energy, helps our muscles work and keep our brain active. If you are feeling depressed throughout the day, then you might consider changing your diet. Fruits and other healthy snacks might be all you need to raise your spirits.

Bonus Question:
Have you or someone you know lost there motivation and just stopped their training altogether? What did you, or the person you know, do to repair or resolve the problem?

I'm sure everybody at some point wanted to quit bodybuilding because they didn't notice the gains they were hoping for. Take me for example. I didn't notice much newbie gains when I first started lifting so naturally I assumed that I had the worst genes ever.

I heard that newbie gains were suppose to be huge gains, maybe 15-25 lbs of lean muscle mass within the first two months. I only noticed about 5 pounds of lean muscle mass within the first two months of lifting so I was really upset. I thought to myself why continue; the best part is already over. However, that question didn't break my will to hit the weights. I continued to hit the weights as hard as I can, bringing intensity to each and every workout.

I am an ectomorph so I am naturally skinny. It has always been hard to pack on mass onto my small frame, especially since I didn't respond to creatine. My lifts have been weak but my will was strong. I visited the forum on this site often to further my knowledge on bodybuilding. I have been bodybuilding for a year and a half now and have gained over 35 lbs of lean muscle mass and packed on little to no fat. There's no secret to stay motivated, if you love the sport, you won't quit.

"It doesn't matter how slow you go, as long as you don't stop!"

3rd Place - rockinmoroccan
View This Author's BodySpace Profile And Contact Them Here.

Motivation is sometimes easy to keep up just by listening to some good music. However, if you are preparing for a competition and have been dieting for many weeks music may not be the only thing you need to keep motivated.


Simply put, if you are not motivated to perform a task, you will either not complete it, or finish it poorly. Motivation is truly the most important element in determining whether you will succeed or fail. Look at past bodybuilding champions such as Arnold or Ronnie. Their determination is undoubtedly the reason for their achievements.

If you'd like a more tangible and mathematical explanation why motivation is so important, take for example Hugo Rivera's equation for bodybuilding success:

    S = D x (T x N x R)


      S = Success

      D = Determination

      T = Training

      N = Nutrition

    R= Rest/Recovery

As you can see, without determination (which goes hand in hand with motivation), the training, nutrition, and recovery time you spend are useless, and equate to zero success. However, with a high determination value, your training, nutrition, and recovery pay in much greater dividends in terms of success.

What is the best way to keep motivation high while preparing for a competition?

The big competition is only 5 days away. You've spent many months training your hardest, eating your best, and utilizing every possible trick of the trade you've learned from videos, magazines, and of course, Bodybuilding.com. You know that the competition is quickly approaching, but your low-calorie cutting diet is sucking the energy right out of your body. How do you stay motivated?

I believe there are several ways to keep yourself going.

First and foremost, ask yourself: WWAD? What would Arnold do? The answer is pretty obvious-He'd be working harder than ever. A champion like Arnold Schwarzenegger would acknowledge and invite the challenge of pre-contest endeavors such as cutting and intense workout sessions. Arnold's motivation stemmed from his hunger to be on top.

Do you think Arnold, famously quoted saying "You have to do everything possible to win no matter what," would back away only days from a competition? The answer, plainly, is no. So by telling yourself the motivating words "WWAD?", you are essentially asking yourself what it takes to win the competition and become a champion.

Second, take a minute to think about that jerk in high school, that person that would call you "a joke" or a "nobody." Ponder that bully that beat you up at school or that girl that dumped you. Imagine these people as voices on your shoulders at all times.

Were you to slack off or back out of the competition, pretend that they'd laugh at you, feeling reaffirmed that you are, indeed, a loser. But dp you know what would truly upset them? Hard work, unrelenting perseverance, and discipline. By doing so, you are getting back at them for what they have done to you.

Another great strategy for staying motivated is by recruiting a buddy to train with you. But it's only 5 days until the contest, so not just anybody will do. A training partner that's going to push you all the way to competition day needs to:

  1. Realize what's at stake
  2. Ignore your complaints about your energy and stamina
  3. Help you fight through every repetition of every set
  4. Be knowledgeable about bodybuilding
  5. Support you both AND outside the gym

Find a partner with these qualities, and it will be much easier to stay motivated and pumped for the competition. Without one, you can easily slip in your training and nutrition which could compromise your chances to win.

Are there changes to your routine that might help? What are those?

I believe that the changes you make to your routine depend on whether size or conditioning is admired in the competition.

If the latter is emphasized in the competition, I advise that you incorporate intense cardiovascular training into your pre-contest routine. In order to emerge victorious from the competition, you must be conditioned, very lean, and toned. Cardiovascular fitness can help you achieve this look.

Excellent pre-contest cardiovascular exercises follow:

  1. Stationary biking
  2. Outdoor running
  3. Treadmill running
  4. Jump roping

I prefer biking because I feel it is the safest means of cardiovascular training (The last thing you want 5 days before a competition is a twisted ankle).

If you're looking to stay muscularly massive for a competition with an emphasis on size, I advise you to incorporate less intense cardiovascular training as to preserve your muscle mass while still getting cut up. Add a little bit of biking on your rest days, if any, to achieve this.

Another change that I feel will benefit a pre-contest bodybuilder may surprise some. I believe taking a week off of training can do incredible things. After having trained so incredibly hard leading up to the competition, your body still hasn't completely recovered, and is playing catch-up.

Giving your body some major rest before the competition and letting your diet handle the rest of the equation can truly bring out everything that you have worked so hard for in your body. Those deep cuts and striations will certainly show themselves upon receiving sufficient rest.

Switching up your exercises may also be a good idea, however do this with caution. Trying something new only days before the competition may be detrimental to your results. You could get injured if your body is not accustomed to a certain movement. Injury is especially likely when you're not at your best physically, which naturally occurs before a competition when you're cutting and ingesting less.

What kind of change if any would you make to your diet that would raise your spirits?

Your pre-contest diet is quite possibly the most important factor in determining your success in the competition. Assuming that you've been eating like a bodybuilder should in the months leading up to the contest, you can still make changes that will pick you up mentally.

Of course, this doesn't mean candy bars or high-fat comfort foods, a death sentence for your hopes for the competition. Since you will be restricting your caloric intake to levels equating to starvation, I feel the biggest pick-me-up would result from supplement additions, which follow.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Not only do these polyunsaturated fats boost levels of seratonin, elevating your moods, but they have a plethora of other benefits that make them worth taking pre-contest:

  1. Omega 3 acids boost your energy
  2. Omega 3 acids strengthen your immune system
  3. Omega 3 acids help reduce water retention, which maximizes your lean and toned look
  4. Omega 3 acids help stabilize your blood sugar, and in turn help prevent superfluous release of the catabolic hormone cortisol

Clearly, Omega 3 fatty acids are very beneficial for a pre-contest bodybuilder. I suggest salmon oil to provide your Omega's 3's.

Glutamine - Glutamine can indirectly help keep you motivated through its property of preserving muscle in the absence of adequate food intake. Glutamine will help you stay physically strong, which will push you through those tough last few weeks before the competition. Some other beneficial properties of glutamine include:

  1. Strengthening your immune system
  2. Elevating growth hormone levels
  3. Decreasing recovery time between workouts
  4. Aiding protein synthesis

Glutamine is definitely worthwhile for any type of bodybuilder or weightlifter, and should be taken every day in 5 gram servings to unleash all of its benefits.

As for food, I feel that eating high-volume, low calorie foods such as salads can help keep you feeling full and satisfied without the guilt that would normally accompany a filling meal. Although it is best to stick strongly to your core pre-contest diet, if you feel you must eat, then high-volume, low calorie foods are the way to go. More examples follow:

  1. Low-calorie fruits, such as strawberries
  2. Vegetables, such as celery
  3. Beef Broth

As a general rule of thumb, anything loaded with water is usually low-calorie, and high-volume. Adding these foods to your diet should keep you motivated and satisfied.

Bonus Question:
Have you or someone you know lost there motivation and just stopped their training altogether? What did you, or the person you know, do to repair or resolve the problem?

I have a good friend that used to be my gym partner. When we used to work out together, he would push me very hard, and I would reciprocate. Halfway through junior year of high school though, he began getting bogged down with schoolwork and felt as if he had to dedicate all of his time to school. He lost his motivation to work out with me, and eventually ended his membership at the gym.

Once I found out, I took action. I told him that you can find a balance between school and training, and that weight lifting can actually be beneficial to your studies, in how it increases energy and relieves stress.

To even further motivate him to be my partner again, I printed out our favorite picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger and taped it to his locker. The next day, he called me up and told me in a serious voice, "Let's go to the gym." Finally, my friend was back and ready to train.

I find that often the biggest enemy in staying motivated is ourselves. A little push from a friend can go a very long way. In important things in life such as staying in shape, it is extremely critical that we stay determined to reach our goals and become champions in our own way.

Thanks for your time,

Bryan S.
Bodybuilding.com Fan