Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Staying Motivated - Tom Kubistant

 “In Romania, I train on a bar that is bent. My gym has bad lighting and very little heat in the winters. Here in America, you have everything you need to train. It’s not in the bar or the gym or the platform . . . it’s in you.”

Nicu Vlad

Becoming Versus Staying Motivated

The first step in better understanding motivation is to realize that there is an important distinction between becoming motivated and staying motivated. Becoming motivated if really pretty easy. I become motivated when I see someone really putting out in the gym, when I pick up a lifting book or magazine, after a run of a couple of outstanding workouts, or when I receive compliments on what I've done. All of these sources inspire me to greater efforts.

However, the really challenging thing is learning how to stay motivated in training, especially when those nice positive outside stimuli are not around. Staying motivated is a major key in putting in consistent workouts. Staying motivated is less influenced  by situational occurrences such as receiving compliments or reading a magazine. It has its base in one's attitudes, beliefs, and goals.   

So, the critical issue of motivation is learning how to stay up for every workout. There is nothing magical about it. Staying motivated is a learned habit that takes a little awareness and effort, but pays dividends in providing consistent and regular results.

In order to better understand how to stay motivated in your training, take a little time now and answer this question: "What things do I need to regularly do, be, or have in order to stay motivated in my lifting?"


Some of you may have responded with such answers as good equipment, a regular training partner, previous successful workouts, appropriate and obtainable goals, good nutrition, intense concentration, or persistence. If you look at the types of answers you gave, you will notice that they usually fall into two general categories: those sources outside of you and those inside of you. 

The Two Forms of Motivation

Successful lifters and bodybuilders understand that there are two forms of motivation: extrinsic (external) and intrinsic (internal). Each form is necessary in order to achieve consistent gains, but as in cooking, one has to know when to use each ingredient.

Extrinsic motivation comes from sources outside us. We become inspired when we view a bodybuilding or lifting competition, receive compliments and support from friends who understand what we're doing, or read and learn about new training approaches. Once we become motivated in this way, we then usually seek to copy, repeat and continue to apply these inspirations. The challenge with using extrinsic motivation is that unless we integrate it into our belief systems and lifestyles, we will soon run out of the willpower to continue.

You see, willpower (or self-discipline) is a very finite entity. For example, right now as you are reading this, see how long you can stay angry. Go ahead . . . BE ANGRY!

 @#$% @#$! @#$ %$%#! @#$%$%^! #%#%$^&&!

 For most of you, the longest you could stay angry was about two minutes. What usually happens is that your resolve diminishes, you become distracted, and then return to reading this. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that discipline is necessary only in doing something that you do not want to do! Unless the sources of our extrinsic motivation are connected, are integrated with something more personal and meaningful, our willpower will not be strong enough alone to sustain our energy.

Extrinsic motivation is nice. It's the frosting on the cake. However, this implies that there has to be a cake in the first place. And this metaphorical cake is called intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is that energy that emanates from our inner goals, desires, needs, and wants. Although it is not as flashy and overtly emotional as extrinsic motivation, our intrinsic motivation is the energy that keeps us focused, striving and persistent.

Intrinsic motivation comes from what is meaningful to us. The key to understanding this form of motivation is to break down the word itself. Ask yourself this question: "What are my motives in my lifting?" Since there will probably be many layers of answers to this question, take your time in answering it as completely as you can.

1. _________________________________________
2. _________________________________________
3. _________________________________________
4. _________________________________________

You may want to return to this question when you finish reading this section or at some later date to gain a broader perspective on your motives. Answering completely is important.

As you discover some answers, you will soon see how one relates to another. Once you find out your motives in your training you will then be better able to understand how they influence your lifting goals, needs, wants, desires, dreams, drives, and aspirations.

Establishing the connections between your motives and your goals and desires is important because each feeds the other. For example, when I am really psyched for an upcoming workout I am more likely to establish appropriate and obtainable goals. On the other side of the coin, when I have the structure for my training provided by my goals I am more likely to be excited about reaching them. Motivation and goal setting must be continually linked so that they can build upon each other to provide more concentrated training.

The more specific you become in describing your motives for lifting, the more sense they will make to you because you have connected with other things that are important to you. Once you have done this, your motivations will become more concrete and manageable so you can more easily channel them into your training. The net result will be that as you operate on these more specific and tangible levels, you will stay more motivated in your training.

The Power of Attitude

One quality among lifters who stay motivated in their training is that they have4 a realistic and pervasive postitive mental attitude (PMA). These people have discovered the powers of PMA and have not only integrated them into their training, but the rest of their lives as well.

A strong positive mental attitude is grounded on the following realization: In any situation we face or decision we make, we can approach it only in one of two ways -- in a positive, optimistic, and building-up point of view, or a negative, pessimistic,and tearing-down point of view. There are no other choices. There is no middle ground. I also submit to you that if you do not know in which way you are approaching a situation, you are in reality dragging yourself down.

But why is it that more of us do not actively choose to be positive more often? It takes much more awareness, courage, creativity, dedication, and just plain guts to be positive. Becoming pessimistic is simpler. It just requires doing nothing actively for yourself. Then your fears, doubts, and insecurities will creep in and drag you down into being negative.

This notion of essential choice is really quite simple. In today's hectic pace of life with so many changes, options, and alternatives it is refreshing to discover that I can approach these situations in only one of two ways. And since I have just explained these two choices, only a fool or a masochist would choose to be negative. So I really only have one choice and that is to be positive.

Being positive is an active process that involves conscious choices to build yourself up. Being positive is not wishing, hoping, or some kind of pie-in-the-sky attitude. Rather, it is a realistic affirming of yourself and what you choose to do right now.

Being positive is really a matter of perspective. A few years ago, the Peace Corps had a television commercial that showed only a half glass of water. The announcer then asked, "Is this glass of water half full or half empty?" He went on to say that if you viewed it as half full, the people from the Peace Corps were interested in talking with you, because you were the type of person with the attitudes they wanted. The same perspectives can be applied to lifting.

Whatever perspective you choose is accompanied by a lot of power. Most lifters are totally unaware of this fact. Whichever direction you choose, you set in motion the processes to achieve that particular choice. The power or our attitudes is best summarized by the famous radio commentator Earl Nightengale, who said, "You become what you think about." It is as simple - and profound - as that. You become what you think about. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for stronger or for weaker, you become what you think about.

If you keep focusing pessimistically on your weak squat (for example, My chest is just awful," your your chest will likely remain small. Or, if you say, "There is no way in the world I will ever be able to squat that amount," there will be no way you can.

On the other hand, if you say, "Look how far my back has come and let's just see how much more I can improve it," chances are you will continue to improve your back. Of if you say, "I am going to give my best shot at cleaning that weight," chances are you will.

In lifting, as well as in the rest of our lives, what we accomplish is largely governed by the principle by the principle of the self-fulfilling prophecy. What we decide we can or cannot accomplish, we will probably actualize. As Mark Twain wisely put it, "If you think you can or if you think you cannot, you're probably right."

We continually have to recognize and reinforce what we have, instead of what we have not. Sure, top lifters and bodybuilders search for deficiencies, but they always place them within the larger framework of improving themselves even further. They say, for example, "If I build up my lagging calves, I will become more balanced and proportional." Or, "If my deadlift goes up so does my total." The secret of Positive Mental Attitude is that as you remain realistically positive and optimistic, you tap into a huge inner reservoir of energy that you can channel into your training.



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