Motivation is key to success in any endeavour. Many athletes may feel a loss of motivation when going through periods of stress, when hitting training plateaus, or perhaps when living transition in their lives outside of the gym. A major indicator that an athlete is feeling loss of motivation may include less excitement for training, or perhaps no desire to train at all. How can we ensure that we continue to stay motivated in the long-run?
Some key elements to maintaining motivation in the iron game include:
- Intrinsic motivation
- Setting small and realistic goals
- Following a well thought-out program
- Celebrating success
- Comparing yourself to yourself
“the two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”- Leo Tolstoy
It is important to remember that in powerlifting, the goal is to strive for constant, steady progression.
Intrinsic motivation refers to behaviour that is driven by internal rewards. The motivation to engage in a behaviour arises from within the individual because it is naturally satisfying to that individual. Defining it is simple, but discovering your intrinsic motivation is more challenging. With regards to powerlifting, it comes from developing a love for the sport. Can you see yourself powerlifting for the next decade or two? If so, you may begin to appreciate rewarding moments from the simple things that are not necessarily weight on the bar, or medals in competition. A great example of this is appreciation for form improvements. It is extremely rewarding to discover when movements become more autonomous and efficient. Repeatability is a massive part of high-level execution of the Powerlifts.
Set small and realistic goals
Small and consistent goal-setting is the best way to keep training fun and enjoyable. For example, perhaps an athlete currently squats 110KG, and sets a goal to squat 30KG more. While this goal is perfectly valid, it may take years to add 30KG to a lift, which can be a disheartening experience for an athlete. However, if the athlete sets more achievable, timely, and incremental goals, the final goal of adding 30KG to their lift may seem a bit more achievable. Setting a goal of adding 5KG per 12-week training cycle is much more effective, and provides small milestones to celebrate in the process.
Follow a well thought-out program
Part of staying motivated is understanding why you are performing the exercises you have programmed on a given day. It is highly recommended by the DB team that athletes follow a program that has been designed for them, as individuals. If you believe and trust that what you have been programmed in a training cycle has been selected to contribute to your 1RM progression, it is far easier to find motivation to follow the given program. Let’s face it; no one likes split squats. However, if you understand why they are programmed, this may motivate you to perform them. Never hesitate to ask your coach questions – understanding why we perform specific exercises can heighten our overall experience and engagement in a specific program.
The “iron gods” reward consistency and patience over a long period of time. For this reason, it is important to celebrate success along the way no matter how small. Celebrate the 9/9 competitions and the 2.5kg PBs. Over time, adding 2.5kg per training block will add up to large increases of weight on the bar.
Compare you to you
An athlete can only work with what they have. It doesn’t matter what people around you are lifting. If you compare yourself to others (especially on social media) you will find yourself constantly disappointed with how strong you are (unless you happen to be Amanda Lawrence). Remember, we start where we start, and heavy weight is relative to a person’s given level of strength. Ultimately, your RPE10 feels the same as an elite lifter’s RPE 10.
Staying motivated in the iron game comes down to perspective. Making an effort to implement the tips and tricks above will bring you a deeper satisfaction and connection to your training, and ultimately your reason for loading the bar in the first place.