How To Stay Motivated To Build Muscle
Regardless of what the companies and authorities that litter the fitness industry tell you, building muscle mass takes time.
Whether you do a body part a day style split, or follow a full body workout regime whether you follow an intermittent fasting diet or utilize an 8 small meals a day while tracking macronutrients approach to dieting…
Progressive overload and caloric manipulation are the 2 keys to transforming your physique… but most guys forget the crucial ingredient that must go with them.
You can do everything right but if you’re not consistent and in it for the long haul then you’re going to lose motivation. I’ve been going to the same gym for the past 5 years and after you’ve been in the same environment for such an amount of time you begin to see patterns…
New years resolutions join at the start of January, go day in day out for a week or two then come the start of February they’ve cancelled their membership.
Guys join the gym a few months out from summer hoping to build enough lean muscle for a jaw dropping beach body physique, yet they give up before summer arrives – because they realize building muscle takes time.
In all of the above examples it’s not a lack of time, skill or experience preventing them from achieving their goal.
It’s the lack of motivation.
Humans are motivated by pleasure and pain, for some the fear of being told they may not be around long enough to see their children graduate school is the kick in the ass they need to embark on that weight loss journey, for others it’s the pleasure associated with the attention and comments they’ll receive as they roll in to their 20 year high school reunion in better shape than the captain of the football team 20 years earlier.
Here’s How I Stay Motivated And Keep The Fire Alive
I Log My Workouts
Progress is by far the best motivator. Everybody gets discouraged when they’re putting in the time yet struggling to see results…
You should be recording the number of sets, reps and weight lifted for each workout, after each week you can refer back to your workout log to see how you did and what you need to do the following week to continue to progress.
After you’ve been recording for a period of time you can flip back to the very start of your workout log as your motivation begins to decline – look at how much you were lifting then and how much you’re lifting now, chances are you’ve bulked up or shredded down a lot too since then – if how far you’ve come doesn’t motivate you to pick yourself up and keep going I don’t know what will.
Progressive overload is the key to building muscle mass and increasing your strength.
To continue to grow you need to know the weight and reps you performed in your previous workout. Mindlessly grinding out the same number of repetitions with the same weight on the barbell week in week out will not get you the results you want, or any at all for that matter… decreasing your motivation as a result.
If it matters to you you’ll measure it. Measure and record your workouts so you can smash your previous record each week.
I Train And Diet For A Pre-Determined Event
I choose or schedule an event in the near future, generally 30 – 60 days away.
A holiday, an obstacle course race, a photoshoot or video series– an event I want to look or perform my best at.
The trick here is to lock yourself in – want to do a photoshoot? I suggest paying in full beforehand. If you’re skipping the gym day after day the photoshoot will approach quicker than you know… you don’t want to be out of shape and look unprepared, put in the hard work and save yourself the embarrassment.
If your event is 30 days away and you skip the gym today then you’ve just lost 1/30th of your opportunity to improve yourself.
There’s always times I feel as if I’m too busy to make it to the gym that day, that whether I do cardio today or tomorrow won’t matter… but I always follow through with it because I know I’ve made a commitment to do everything I can to optimize my aesthetics and athletic performance beforehand.
If there was no event there would be no reason to follow through today, this is why I find time sensitive commitments like this to be so effective.
I Battle Myself To Perfection
Engage in some friendly competition with a fellow gym-goer or friend.
This can be anything you want, e.g. who can reach a certain body fat percentage first, who has the lowest body fat percentage on April 1st, who will win the race to being able to bench press 315lbs for 5 reps.
I’m a competitive person by nature so knowing there’s someone else gunning for the same end result as me while there can only be one winner gets me fired up and willing to put in those extra hard yards every single workout.
This rivalry can also have a bet or wager attached to it as today I’m sure you won’t disagree that money is one of the best motivators of common folk.
Get a friend or find someone at your gym that is at least as dedicated to their training as you are, if not more.
A gym/accountability buddy expects you to show up at the gym at your arranged times to hit the weights together – so you can no longer dismiss or blow off your workouts without letting your partner down (don’t do that.).
Not only is this great motivation, but you’ll also be able to push each others past your limits via assisted repetitions, the mental boost from having a spotter above the bar while bench pressing etc.
A word of warning – a gym partner can also be VERY detrimental to your training if they’re a slacker.
Gossiping, cutting workouts short and delaying workouts are a few of the traits I’ve discovered with the not-so-dedicated gym partners I’ve had.
I Check My Progress Regularly
“Appearance is a consequence of fitness”
As you continue to apply progressive overload and remain consistent with your workouts your body will begin to forge itself out of steel.
Your log book can also be used for the purpose of recording your meals, I recommend calculating your calories as per my guide here and then ticking off in your journal as you hit your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day – if you fall short or overeat you’re accountable to your log so it must be recorded.
Disregard The Scales & BMI
Before I delve into the methods I use and recommend to track fat loss and muscle gain I find it imperative to discuss the use of the traditional scale.
DO NOT RELY OR BASE YOUR PROGRESS ON WHAT THE SCALES SAY
You see yourself on a daily basis so progress may seem slow or non-existent, this is where taking regular photos comes into play – the mirror doesn’t lie.
Choose a location, time of day and pose and snap the same photo(s) on a weekly or fortnightly basis. When I’m following my cutting diet I record a video and take several still shots each week which I find is the most accurate way to gauge progress and see how I’m progressing, if I’m holding additional fat on any body parts, if I’m losing much muscle mass during my cutting phase (in which case I am able to identify that my calorie deficit might be slightly too large).
Store these photos in a ‘Progress’ folder on your computer and update them weekly, as you begin to look through and compare your previous weeks’ progress to current you’ll more often than not be surprised at just how much your body is changing (without you realizing it).
Grab a tape measure and take note of your body measurements weekly, I recommend performing these upon waking as measuring your arms etc. post workout can be inaccurate (as you’ll have a ‘pump’ meaning they’ll appear larger and fuller than usual due to blood flow.
The key to taking successful measurements is to ensure you are measuring in the exact same position every time, using freckles or placing a mark on your skin is the easiest way to maintain a consistent reference point for measuring.
When measuring record the following measurements in your training log or in an excel spreadsheet in centimetres:
Shoulder to shoulder (with your arms down by your side)
Chest (around nipple level, raise your arms to place the tape measure around your chest and then lower arms before reading measurement)
Biceps (measure from the peak of the bicep to the thickest portion of the triceps).
Waist (around your belly button).
Hips (widest part).
Quads (Choose one spot on your quads and measure this each time).
I’m constantly striving to attain the golden ratio, and the only way to know where I’m progressing and where I’m lacking is by taking my measurements!