Thursday, June 1, 2017

Incentives - Fred Hatfield (1985)

Yuri Verkhoshanky, Fred Hatfield

Frederick C. Hatfield 
October 21, 1942 - May 14, 2017

"C'mon, let's go train!" 

"Naw, I got a date." 

"But, you have to go. My car isn't running and I need a ride to the gym!" 

And so it goes, conversation after conversation. I think you get the point. There are motivating forces in your life other than your lifting goals. Sex, friendship, family obligation - these are just some of the competing factors. There are, of course, any number of others and the exact course of action you choose to take depends on the relative strengths of the factors you must weight at that moment. Your job, it training success is paramount in your life, is to ensure that the incentive to train - to become better - is the strongest of all the competing factors at that moment in your life.

This is no easy task, even if you are already highly motivated to excel. The demands upon you as a lifter are great, and involve so much - diet, sleep, medical assistance, money, and the time needed to train - that's it's doubtful you'll ever live the ideal training life. After all, you also have to live

For those who find it hard to maintain a steady training routine, it will interest you to know that many coaches see motivation and incentive as the primary problem in achieving peak performance.

What is Incentive?  

David Birch and Joseph Veroff, two internationally prominent psychologists, teamed up in 1966 to co-write a work on human motivation. They identified seven major incentive systems that collectively account for almost all of man's goal-directed behavior. Through an extensive review of the research on motivation, they postulated that a motive, the incentive itself, will direct a person's immediate goal-oriented activity only if that motive is the strongest of the competing motives. Birch and Veroff's incentive systems are as follows: 

 - Regulating bodily experiences [sensory incentive system]
 - Reacting to new stimuli [curiosity incentive system]
 - Evaluating one's performance [achievement incentive system]
 - Withstanding the influence of others [power incentive system]
 - Operating on one's own [independence incentive system]

Lifters, like all athletes, need to train. You need to carefully regulate your diet, and you must also tend to other aspects of preparation away from the gym. You are, therefore, subject to the above listed incentives. The important job of regulating these incentives so that the appropriate one surfaces as the strongest at the right time can be a real challenge. It is a challenge that only the most disciplined lifter can meet.

But it can and must be done if success is your long range goal, which brings up an interesting point. Implicit in Birch and Veroff's paradigm of goal-directed behavior is the notion that long-range goals can only be achieved if short-term (immediate) goals are regulated effectively.    

You cannot expect to become all that you wish unless you set short-term goals and manipulate your life to the extent that you systematically achieve each one. A closer look at each of Birch and Veroff's incentive systems will illustrate how you can effectively manage your day-to-day goal orientation.

Sensory Incentives

Tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, and feeling are the main sensory experiences for man. Perhaps the most negative or bodybuilders is the feeling of pain, because pain usually causes an avoidance response. In the gym, under heavy iron, pain is commonplace. You put up with it because you know the outcome will be more pleasant than the temporary discomfort. But, in truth, don't you sometimes shy away from exercises because you know they'll be painful? If you're like most of us you probably do, and more often than you would like to admit.

Hunger, like pain, is another sensory experience all bodybuilders and lifters making weight have often avoided. Other sensory experiences (both positive and negative) common to bodybuilders are the pumped sensation, fatigue, and tension. Top bodybuilders learn how to make these sensory experiences work for them rather than against them. They learn how to make them positive rather than negative incentives.   

Curiosity Incentives

That same curiosity that's basic to a child's seeking is common to most adults, albeit in the form of an incentive to optimize stimulus complexity, or avoid boredom. That this means in bodybuilding is that continually engaging in a simple training regimen can make training a negative incentive over a short period of time. A way out is to get into the science of bodybuilding. Make training challenging by altering your routine periodically.

Achievement Incentives

Sport psychologists generally agree that the incentive to achieve in sports is probably the strongest one. With lifters, the two most important goals are the drive to enjoy success and the drive to succeed. In the case of the first, a bodybuilder who experiences success is spurred on to greater achievement. Even after attaining high level awards and recognition, he or she continues because the orientation is to continue to experience success.

The incentive to succeed, perhaps the most devastating from the standpoint of the fans, at least, is the drive a lifter displays in getting to the top. This drive to succeed is immediately quenched on achieving success, and further participation is no longer meaningful to the bodybuilder. He has finished his task.

There are three main categories of achievement incentives in sport:

 - competence
 - a sense of effectiveness
 - masculine or feminine identity.

Competence in bodybuilding is generally judged on the basis of comparison with others in the group and success is dependent on what the individual's goals are. So, while related, competence to win at any given level in bodybuilding may not signal success. It is important to keep your goals clear, and to avoid the pitfall of judging your competence on whether you win or lose.

Your sense of effectiveness can be modified by your successes and failures. It is important for you, particularly if you are a beginning bodybuilder, to learn your own level of competence and to set your sights on long-range goals by achieving short-range goals. In this way, your sense of your own effectiveness will remain positive.

The sport of bodybuilding, like most sports in our culture, gained its popularity because it affords the participants a chance to improve their masculine or feminine identity. Girls in our culture have been told for generations that successful women are not achievement oriented - they must learn to do the things women do. Boys, on the other hand, have been told that achievement is closely linked with masculinity, and that success as a man depends heavily upon their fostering a masculine image.

For good or bad, this age-old stereotype is changing, and more and more women are entering the sports arena (including bodybuilding, weightlifting, and powerlifting) expecting the feminine image to be enhanced. Boys and men, of course, continue to participate for reasons associated with the masculine image they were brought up with.

Affiliation Incentives  

The need for reassurance is perhaps the strongest influence for a person to train with another person. Self-worth and social acceptance are generally reinforced by others with whom you train. Forming this kind of a "mutual admiration" arrangement fosters greater achievement incentive as well.

It is a well-known paradox in sport psychology that those of us who are unable to love or like another person seek affiliation the most, whereas those who are loved or liked the most do not depend on affiliation as a source of reassurance or self-worth. Most good coaches know this, and try to accommodate the person who needs affiliation as well as the person who doesn't. As a bodybuilder, you should try to remain aware and sensitive to the needs of your training partner(s) because, ultimately, their achievements will reflect on your own. If you're in it together, then work together!

Aggression Incentive

In its purest form, aggression is that feeling in which the destruction or injury of another person occurs or is sought. Of course, such aggression has no place in sports. Rather, a form of "instrumental" aggression is desirable, in which behavior is intensified to achieve a particular goal. Frustration, resentment, and pain are typical causes of negative forms of aggression. A more instrumental (and positive) approach to training aggressively can be fostered by simply keeping your short-term goals in mind, and pursuing them vigorously.

Independence Incentives

The need some bodybuilders feel to "do it on their own" is called independence. However, a complex interplay of situational factors often occurs that tends to modify independent action. Independent bodybuilders often interrupt their concentration when they feel a need to be evaluated - as in a contest. Also, the curiosity incentive often replaces the independence incentive when the bodybuilder is confronted with an alternate choice. Highly independent bodybuilders tend to lose interest in the sport more easily than those who have a greater affiliative incentive.

In addition, highly independent athletes who continually fail (in their own self-evaluation) eventually seek assistance from others, allowing their achievement incentive to come to the fore. If they had been more attuned to their needs, they would have sought this assistance long before failure became such a problem.

Power Incentives

The idea that bodybuilders have whopping egos has become a cliché in bodybuilding, and not without just cause. And a big ego causes problems. The need to exert influence over others and the need to remain insensitive or unreceptive to the advice of others is, by definition, a power incentive. Personality clashes in the gym arise frequently because a bodybuilder resists being influenced by another while trying to impose himself on the other.

Perhaps a more pervasive example of the power incentive in bodybuilding occurs when, for reasons of peer acceptance, familial acceptance, or public acceptance, a person engages in the sport. When you motivation is such that you bodybuild because others will have a higher opinion of you, you do so because of a power incentive. Status, recognition, or prestige are powerful motivators, and if that's your bag, so be it. It's one of the realities of life. But being dependent on some form of social evaluation must ultimately cease - self-evaluation is also critical, and must be fostered for continued success and especially continued enjoyment of the sport.  

A great article on The Will to Win by Doug Hepburn here:   

The Interplay of Incentives

Your ability as a bodybuilder can be likened to a machine's performance. But unlike a machine, the power that makes you work is motivation. Although seven different incentive systems are treated in this article, you must remember that they are not independent - they often work both for and against one another in determining your course of action.

While skill, ability, and genetic predisposition are important factors in determining your success, the intangible that makes them work in winning is MOTIVATION. Just as there can be no performance without ability, there can be no performance without motivation.

Judge yourself on the basis of these seven incentive systems.

Doing so will help you to more fully understand the way toward achieving your long-term goals in bodybuilding, or for that matter any area of your life.

How to Sustain Motivation

 - Set short-term goals to ensure continued motivation. Your short-term goals should ultimately lead you to your long-range goal, but be prepared to cope with occasional setbacks.

 - Know yourself. Learn about the major motivating forces in your life, and adjust them to complement each other rather than act negatively or continually compete with one another.

 - Establish a schedule for training and avoid interrupting influences to help you regulate competing factors.

 - Learn how to make pain a positive factor in training - key in on the end result rather than the temporary discomfort.

 - Feel the exhilaration of the pumped sensation, the joy of effort, and the enjoyment of all-out training fatigue - they are signals of goal attainment.

 - Make your training a challenge in itself. Allow the fascinating complexity of the art and science of bodybuilding to totally captivate your interest. Get into it. Construct and reconstruct your regimen as your knowledge of bodybuilding training grows. This will help you to avoid boredom and also to get the most out of your training for faster goal attainment.

 - Be aware that achieving success is important, but also understand that for continued success, you should also learn to enjoy success.

 - Remember that success is what YOU say it is - not what someone else says it is. You can foster a sense of competence, effectiveness, and masculinity or femininity by realizing that none are dependent on winning or losing alone.

 - You may wish to train alone or with a partner, but always remain receptive to assistance and self-assured of your own self-worth. In so doing you will find it easier to avoid failure. If you can avoid failure, you have, by definition succeeded. And success begets success.

 - Foster instrumental aggressiveness in training. There is no room for weaklings in any sport; the best way to achieve training objectives in bodybuilding is to train with a vengeance.

 - There is a fine line between having a strong ego and being narcissistic. If you feel the need to influence others in the gym, do so by example rather than by flapping your jaw. And, if you feel the need to squelch others because you see them as a threat to your own power position, remember that you may learn something by listening for a change. Foster a strong ego, but refrain from being overbearing.

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