Stop getting off track and start getting results

Motivation To Work Out - Woman Running on BeachCredit: Dmitriy Shironosov

Having the motivation to work out on a consistent basis is a key to obtaining your ideal physique and reaching your performance goals.  It helps drag your butt out of bed and push yourself at the gym rather than push the snooze button.  Moreover it makes exercising fun and exhilarating, rather than an exercise of drudgery.   

So how do you ensure you maintain that inner drive and make consistent progress?  Here are 5 tips for turbo-boosting your motivation to work out.

Tip #1: Identify your ideal physique and make it yours

Motivation To Work Out - Woman Fit TorsoCredit: Piotr Stryjewski 123RF.comThis is one of the few circumstances where fitness and bodybuilding magazines come in handy (besides growing your arms by 2-inches or obtaining six-pack abs in 6-weeks).  Thumb through them and find a model or athlete with your ideal physique.  If you don’t have any magazines handy (good for you!), do an image search on the web for a celebrity or athlete that has the physique you are striving for.  Cut out the photo (or download it), and clip the head off.  Even better, paste a photo of your face onto this body.  Put it where you will see it on a daily basis.   This can be on your refrigerator, in your wallet or on your computer or phone.

The important thing is to envision yourself with this physique.  As you look at the photo, envision yourself with this new body.   How would you feel?  What would you do?  How would others react to you?  Do this on a daily basis and your progress will improve significantly.  Most people will not do this.  Then again, most people make no consistent progress and wallow in the futility of mediocrity.  That is not you, is it?  Do this.  It works.  Trust me.

Tip #2: Take progress photos

How you look in the mirror is not the best indicator of progress.  It is difficult to notice small incremental changes on a day-to-day basis.  After a few weeks you may think you don’t look much different when you have actually made significant strides.  This is why friends make comments about how much skinnier you appear, when you hadn’t noticed much change.

The scale is also not a reliable gauge of progress.  For the average person, weight can vary by up to five pounds in a day based on things like the time of day, water retention, meal timing, and last work out.  The solution to this is progress photos.

Make sure you take photos of yourself at regular intervals.  Weekly is best, but bi-weekly or monthly works as well.  Take the photos in the same location, under the same lighting, wearing the same clothes, at the same time of day.  If you don’t have someone to take the photos, use a tripod with a camera that has a timer function.   Try to make the process as easy as possible so you aren’t inclined to skip your regular photo session. 

I use an iPhone with the Camera+ app (an Android or regular digital camera will do), a cheap tripod (under $10), and a smartphone tripod mount (I use an iStabilizer MobiMount, but many others can be found on the internet for $10-$20).  I fix the tripod at the designated height, have the tripod mount already attached, and store it in my closet next to the bathroom where I take the photos.  At my regular weekly time, I set up the tripod, snap on my phone/camera, and take front, side and rear photos.  It takes about ten minutes.

If you’re really lazy, all you have to do is snap a photo of yourself in the bathroom mirror.  Just try to be consistent.

Upload your photos to your computer, and as the weeks go by, compare your progress photos side-by-side.  You will much more effectively (and objectively) be able to assess your progress And progress equals motivation.

Progress photos, like the ideal physique cut-out mentioned in Tip #1, is something most people won’t do.  Most people will take photos of every meal they eat and post it on Instagram, yet they won’t spend 10 minutes a week to take progress photos.   Do you think people are thinking, “Wow, look at that awesome mound of Del Taco Macho Nachos that Sue is eating, isn’t she lucky.”  Nope.  They’re thinking, “Gee thanks for making me hungry Sue, but that’s okay because you must be getting fat.”

Tip #3: Join an online fitness forum or group

It is often difficult to find like-minded people at work and in everyday life.  However, there are many online communities, both paid and free, that provide tremendous support and camaraderie.  Find one that fits your interests.  There are communities (forums/ blogs/ membership sites/ Facebook pages) for runners, mountain bikers, yoga practitioners, triathletes, and on and on.  If you are interested in general fitness or bodybuilding, BodySpace at is an excellent free online fitness community.  There are also many sites for specific fitness programs like CrossFit or P90x.

Join up, introduce yourself, and post on a regular basis.  Keep yourself and others accountable. 

Tip #4: Train for a race or competition

Motivation To Work Out - Spartan RaceCredit: Crs9740 Wikimedia CommonsThere are a wide variety of races and competitions available for every level of fitness.  There are 5Ks, 10Ks, 1-mile swims, 100-mile bike races, physique contests, CrossFit Games, etc.  Mud runs such as The Warrior Dash and The Spartan are growing in popularity across the United States.  They combine running (3-12 miles) with military-style obstacles, and a lot of mud. 

Races and competitions provide a focused purpose to your training regimen.  They also have the added incentive of a deadline to shoot for.  Like online fitness groups, they offer participation in a community of like-minded people with similar goals.  On top of that they are fun!  And what is more motivating than fun?

Tip #5: Create a challenge with friends

If you have a competitive nature, this is for you.  Create a challenge with a set time period (most often 12-weeks) and invite your friends or co-workers to join the competition.  You can collaborate on the rules.  The most common guidelines include: taking before and after weight and measurements (waist size, etc.), taking before and after photos, then comparing at the end of the contest.  The winner can be determined on a purely objective basis, such as most percentage of weight loss.  Or, the winner can be determined by judging by the competitors, or a pre-determined panel of judges (most often friends or acquaintances). 

For my last challenge, I created a private Facebook group and invited friends to be members.  The Facebook group was great because it allowed out-of-state competitors to participate.  It was also an excellent place to upload photos, and to keep in consistent contact.  Some members were very supportive and encouraging.  Some piled on the trash talking.  In both cases it was very motivating, and kept everyone connected and involved.

Don’t be afraid to be creative with the challenge.  At the challenge mentioned above, we had an entry fee and penalty fees if progress photos and stats were not uploaded at pre-determined dates.  We also included physical challenges such as: pull-ups, mile-run, 100-yard dash, broad jump and a medicine ball throw.  At the end of the challenge, winners were awarded in three categories: most-improved, best athlete, and best physique.  Winners were determined by competitor voting (each competitor could vote for their top three in each category, not including themselves).  Cash awards were given out, along with custom-made plaques. 

Again, be creative.  Mold the challenge to what appeals to your group of friends.  Use social media to connect and to prevent participators from dropping out.


Motivation To Work Out - Woman Racking BarbellCredit: Greg Westfall Wikimedia Commons

Envision your ideal body, track your progress, join a community, train for a race, challenge your friends.   Do two or three of these on a consistent basis and your motivation to work out will not waver.  Do all five, and your progress will accelerate exponentially.  In that case, don’t be surprised to see your decapitated body on someone’s fridge one day.  Off with yer’ head!

For more workout and fitness related articles check out:

 5 Tips for Better Workouts: How to increase performance without spending a lot of money

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