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It doesn't matter if it's your first day in the gym, or your heading out for your 52nd consecutive weekly cross-country run, everyone needs motivational support to get the most out of their workouts.

Instead of re-inventing the wheel, a great and easy way to get motivated to exercise is to listen to motivational advice from the masters of fitness, industry and art. This article will provide motivational workout quotes that you can use to help break through five common workout barriers.

Advice on How to Get Motivated to Start your Workout

 The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
- John Bingham,
No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running

 You know that you want to workout and achieve your goals. And you even know that exercise is the best way to get there, but when you're faced with the actual process, fitness, weight-loss and wellness can seem an unattainable goal.

The famous running author John Bingham is right: it's only the first step that is so hard. You need to have the courage to just take an initial leap of faith, and get moving! Take if from the masters of sports, arts and self-improvement psychology, who're all getting at the same point:

  •  “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen
  • You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

  • If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins

Take it from these very successful folks and just get started. Forcing your self to take that first step, that initial commitment, is the key to your workout motivation.

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Thoughts on Beating your Fear of Failure

Nobody ever drowned in sweat.” - Unknown United States Marine

For so many of us, our motivation to exercise is crushed by fear. A fear of looking silly, a fear of being mocked or even a fear that you will fail, all of these things can keep us from working out, or from exercising to our potential.

Take it from the experts: everyone feels a little bit of fear in relation to exercise. That's totally natural, in fact, it's probably just biology. Still, Reggie Jackson said it best: “Fans don't boo nobodies. ”

If you're exercising, you're already succeeding. If you're getting attention, it's probably from your success. People naturally ignore those who are beginners or in the middle, so let go of your fear.

Take it one step further and motivate yourself to workout by totally removing the concept of success and failure from your exercise. Instead, trust Dean Karnazes, a runner who has pushed his body further than people thought possible:

 "Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, others head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” - Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner[3]

By embracing the internal impact of working out, you can banish your fear of how others may perceive you, and instead reap the positive mental rewards of exercise.

Quotes to Deal with a Feeling that You'll Never Get There

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” – Hank Aaron

Pretty much everyone has had felt half-way through a workout that this was a pointless process. Your motivation is destroyed by a feeling that this is just mindless drudgery, which will never work.

Well, that just ain't so unless you make it so. Henry Ford said it best: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Be patient. Think of the greats and their struggles, and focus on continuing to stay positive and keep at your exercise goals. Avoid a focus on the end result, and concentrate on steady, constant improvements. Take hall of fame quarterback Steve Young's motivational advice - “The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”

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Thoughts on Dealing with Workout Setbacks

"Everybody's got a game plan, until they get hit!" - Mike Tyson

Almost nothing kills workout motivation like a major setback. These can be tough life issues like illness or injuries, or happier life hiccups, like vacations, family commitments, holidays or busy work weeks.

The pros will tell you: setbacks are part of the game. Everyone who's succeeded has had some major failures along the way. Take baseball great Mickey Mantle's thoughts to heart:

“During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.” – Mickey Mantle

Any specific failure – the time you can't lift a weight, finish a run, or gain a pound instead of losing two – is just a learning opportunity. Simply restart, and remind yourself that everyone struggles. As Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky makes it clear: “It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."

Advice on Dealing with all of the Workout Fads and Gimmicks

“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” - Albert Einstein

We are drowning in fitness and exercise advice. There's a new fad every day – promising the sun, moon, stars along with six-pack abs – and this can be confusing and exhausting. How do we know if we're doing the right thing? Do we need to make a change? Is there any point to sticking with what we're doing right now? These are the doubts that creep in and kill your workout motivation.

Punk rocker, actor and spoken-word legend Henry Rollins speaks about this in the context of weightlifting (i.e. pumping iron):

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” Henry Rollins, “The Iron” in Details Magazine[2]

Baseball's all-time hits leader Pete Rose put it even more simply: "It's a round ball and a round bat, and you got to hit it square."

In short, the experts are telling you it's bad to over-complicate fitness. You know in your heart what works, what is hard and what makes you feel challenged. Ignore the noise and stick to the basics, and your workout motivation will shoot through the roof.

Motivational Workout Quotes 4
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Help with Finding that Extra Level of Performance

"We'll operate with no excuses. There are no excuses. You succeed or you don't." - University of Oklahoma, Head Football Coach Bob Stoops

There are those who are lucky enough to be dedicated, committed fitness acolytes. A group of people who become consistent in their workouts and constantly motivated in their opportunities. But even these people need to find the extra gear at some point in their athletic pursuits.

The experts tell you to stay hungry. To keep motivated, they say, never rest on your laurels. Always be looking for the next opportunity for excellence and the next competition. Take the great writer Jack Kerouac's advice

...I remembered the famous Zen saying, 'When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.' The saying made my hair stand on end...” Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums[1]

There is perhaps no better example than from Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback of all time, who when asked for his favourite Superbowl ring replied "My favourite ring? I've always said, you know, I always said the next one. The next one is the best,"

It's clear that the best of the best never look at anything to be good enough. To stay motivated in your workouts, force yourself to always look to the next challenge.

Once you do get fired up from these quotes, feel free to check out my other article on applying strategies from business, zen masters and famous artists to your workout motivation.