03-23-2002, 01:40 PM #1
Attitude -- it's what separates winners from wanna-bes. Making a simple change can pay dividends in our workout.
By Dan Wagman
No matter how long you've been training, you're still likely to experience less-than-optimal levels of motivation from time to time. You're sitting in your car in front of the gym, thinking about your approach to today's training -- quads and bi's -- and you aren't really up for it. After being competitive in powerlifting for 13 years now, this scenario is all too familiar to me. But I've come to realize several things: First, training for size and strength is my way of life; second, I'd like to win the Nationals and Worlds a few more times; and third, sometimes I just won't feel like training.
So the big question is: How do you adjust your workout to make gains, even though you aren't quite up to training? Let's look first at training-specific changes.
Challenge & Rest
Much has been written in the past about periodized training. This concept has been around since the early 1900s, and at a basic level, it recognizes that 1) a body must be challenged to grow, 2) a body must recuperate to grow, and 3) if the challenge outweighs recuperation or vice versa, gains won't occur.
Most athletes think a "no pain, no gain" attitude is required for maximum gains, when actually overreaching and overtraining are the more common results. Periodized training offers a way to avoid overreaching and overtraining and also avert loss of motivation, one of the most debilitating consequences of being overreached/overtrained.
First, recognize that virtually any muscular challenge will result in positive adaptations. Second, depending on your particular goals, the muscular challenge can be changed via various training-specific parameters. Take a look at what you've been doing over the last month. Have your sets, reps, intensity and frequency of training remained constant? Have you grouped your muscle groups together in the same order throughout? Have you performed the same exercises for each muscle group? Have your training days and times been the same?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above, a change is in order. Remember, a lack of motivation may be the first symptom associated with overreaching, an acute short-term version of overtraining. If you continue on the same path, you will overtrain. Changing your workout will challenge your body to a new growth pattern, but keep one thing in mind -- more is not better!
Because motivation is also a mental challenge, you need to assess your training from the mental side as well. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that by solely addressing the physical aspects of motivation, you'll find the answers.
From the psychological perspective, lack of a training plan and loss of fun, focus, confidence, belief in your training and positive attitude can all contribute to decreased motivation. For positive change to occur, you must analyze which variable affects you most.
If it's a lack of fun, you may benefit from adopting some of the physical changes. You may even want to go so far as to participate in another activity for a while. Once you find yourself missing the weights, you can come back and start over feeling refreshed.
Focus refers to your ability to concentrate on training. If you find your mind wandering because you aren't "into it," you're lacking in focus. Sport psychologists have found that by developing a plan of attack and attending to it, concentration is enhanced. This requires you to develop a detailed training routine, which should specifically outline what your goal is and how you aim to achieve it. Moreover, it will show you exactly what bodyparts you'll train, how many sets, reps and exercises you'll perform, on what days you'll train and when you'll rest.
Review this plan immediately before you start your workout so you know what the day's training entails -- from warm-up weights to training weights, the first set to the last, and every rep for every set. If you can do this, nothing will interfere with your ability to focus on your training and achieving your goal.
With lower-than-usual motivation, you might find yourself questioning your ability to attain the goals you set. This is where confidence takes a hit. The most critical aspect of confidence is choice. Simply put, you can choose to be confident, but this choice is based on several key components, the first of which is commitment. Without committing yourself to the process (smart training), you won't be confident or able to attain your goal.
Next, believe in your training. This won't result from simply copying a top bodybuilder's routine; you must analyze your strengths and weaknesses and develop a routine that matches your specific needs. You must also ensure that your information is based on sound scientific evidence, not conjecture. With this accomplished, confidence in your routine and yourself is increased.
Finally, be positive. When that little voice inside you talks, don't let it talk to you negatively. Once again, you can choose. Inquiries into elite athletes' approaches to sport have revealed that they have a positive outlook, even when they fail. If you miss a rep or max attempt, you can choose to get angry about it or analyze what happened, why it happened, and how you can prevent it from happening again.
Reassess Your Plan
In the final analysis, reaching your training goals is a step-by-step process, part of which are challenges such as low motivation. Frankly, this is to be expected. As part of my learning process, I've found that lifting is very important to me, but at the same time, it isn't the only thing in my life. Essentially, I'm not as uptight about my training as I used to be.
Nobody would argue the importance bodybuilding had in Arnold Schwarzenegger's life. Yet when confronted with a broken leg, he didn't waste his time worrying about lost training days. Instead, he focused on his college studies and his mail-order business.
The moral of the story: If you don't feel like training, it isn't the end of the world. Implement any of the ideas discussed here or, if need be, even skip a workout. I embraced this philosophy, and as a result I've made continued gains from year to year and expect to do so for quite some time.
In the big picture, a few days of lower motivation can give you a chance to reassess your plan, making sure that you don't give up or start working so much harder that you end up overtrained. When challenged by low motivation, take a step back, analyze your approach, identify where some of the problems may lie (psychological or physiological) and make adjustments based on the recommendations presented. Believe in your choice and understand how, in the end, the change will allow you to make the gain. After all, lower levels of motivation are normal from time to time, but making gains must never stop.
Easy Ways to Spark-Up Motivation
Try an entirely different training program. Use supersets, tri-sets or giant sets, circuit training or rest-pause training, descending sets or cheating. Complete a training session using either dumbbells, barbells or machines exclusively. Switch training for bodyparts around or even train a bodypart several days in a row. Train at a different time of day. Get some new motivational music for your Walkman. Train at a different gym. Find a training partner, or find a new one. Choose a workout of your favorite bodybuilder and copy it to a "T." Physiological & Psychological Symptoms of Low Motivation
Physiological markers of low motivation are many and varied. Clearly, continuous hard work in the gym is the No. 1 reason why people lose their drive. Such high-level commitment results in overreaching, then overtraining. Overreaching, a warning sign of what's to come, is characterized by:
Temporarily feeling sluggish and less motivated Weights feel heavy Increased resting heart rate Disturbed sleep Decreased appetite Continued muscle soreness.
If you experience any of the above and continue training at a high level, you'll become overtrained. Overtraining is serious and shouldn't be taken lightly. Symptoms include:
Complete loss of desire to train Changes in normal blood pressure Delayed return to normal heart rate during exercise Elevated body temperature Weight loss Aching bodyparts Fatigue Decreased oxygen consumption Increased recovery time between sets Clearly decreased performance.
At this stage, working out on a daily basis seems impossible. Very often, because the body is being pushed beyond what it can handle, an injury will occur.
Physically demanding jobs should be considered an additional stressor on the body that can make it difficult to complete a workout. In fact, hard work should be considered an additional source of overreaching, overtraining and loss in motivation.
Decreased motivation often manifests itself in not-so-subtle psychological ways. As a consequence of training and/or work, you may find yourself lacking the desire to train on a particular day. Boredom, lack of fun, fatigue and the inability to concentrate are all signs to ponder. More severe psychological symptoms associated with overreaching/overtraining include irritability, depression, short-temperedness, drowsiness, lack of self-confidence, anxiety, anger, confusion and questioning your athletic abilities and reasons for training.
03-23-2002, 04:11 PM #2Member
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
very good, as usual.
03-24-2002, 11:59 AM #3
Great post!(again). Your like my teacher bro.
03-24-2002, 02:22 PM #4
Good post Bex and something we all suffer from time to time
03-24-2002, 02:32 PM #5Retired IRON CHEF Mod
- Join Date
- Dec 1969
Excellant post bro,
A dam good read.
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