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Top Motivational Tips to Exercise

Resistance training

What motivates you to train and do it consistently?

I recently posted this question on social media. It's asked by many locals young and old in the gym and swimming pool. What's the motivation behind dedication to consistent training?

Never Quit – Proving Other's Wrong

The Force is strong in this one! 

Wanting to prove others wrong can be a strong source of motivation.  I have concentrated on doing that throughout my life to motivate me, and still do. This is very powerful for those seeking challenging education and career paths, as well as to those fighting medical issues like this comment demonstrates

"Someone once told me I am always going to be fat because I am type one diabetic. That sparked something inside me and motivated me to prove them wrong. It's been a little over a year and I have taken off 51 pounds and I'm feeling great. And those two great words – never quit – are a big part of my life."

Group Training – Being Part of a Team

I know having a group does it for me. I train kids 20 years younger than I am and strive to hang with them each day at 6am. Being part of a group, or a group trainer, makes you work harder than if you were by yourself. You'd feel bad if you let down the team by failing to show up or work hard. This one is implemented by many different groups from athletes in sports of all ages, ballet dancers, CrossFitters, and group training instructors in all types of workouts.

Family Health and Wellness

Many people workout to stay healthy for their family or future family. That was certainly the case for this motivated military lawyer: 

"What gets me motivated and moving is my family. I am 28 and don't have a wife and kids yet, but will someday. I have lost 67lbs this year in an attempt to get into the Air Force Jag and have finally been accepted. I want to be able to provide for my future family and give them the best life I can, so I put my body to the test day in and day out while keeping them in mind. Knowing that I was doing it for them kept me going when it would have been so easy to stop and go home."

Future Military, Law Enforcement, and Fire Fighters

All of the above careers share a common goal of preparing for a life of physical challenges. Many successful young men and women seeking these professions consistently train hard for a considerable amount of time prior to their selection. Many try to develop a solid physical foundation and turn their weaknesses into strengths. A future Marine sums it up best: 

"My motivation is knowing that being physically fit is at the core of being a good Marine. It can save your life. I also remind myself that our enemies are training just as hard, and if I slack off, people can die. That's what gets me going on the days where I'm just not feeling it."

Great Sayings

There are many great sayings and self talk out there that can motivate us to train hard.  I personally have used the following.

"Train to Compete – Not Just Survive." This is perfect when striving to push through physical and mental barriers. 

"Stronger people are harder to kill than weaker people and more useful in general."
–Mark Rippetoe  

Both of these, and many others, will help focus you to push through the minimum standards in life and reach your maximum potential.

Having a Tangible Goal (quarterly or more)

Signing up for events and races is one way to always keep a carrot dangling in front of you while training. Training to compete with a group of people in a race is a way to reduce and even eliminate the days where you consider skipping a workout.

There are many things that motivate us to train hard. These last few I am grouping together because they are related to each other in many ways. When you train hard, you meet others who train hard – you can form a new social group and together you all stay strong! 

Here are two final posts that summarize Fitness Motivation very well from an older athlete and a future tactical athlete.

From the older and wiser athlete:

Here is what motivates me:

  1. Looking at pictures of myself 50 lbs ago.  (Functional and aesthetic.)
  2. Still being able to participate in multi-hour and day endurance events and be social with some pretty amazing people.  (Performance.)
  3. Cheating the clock of life. Staying fit and exercising regularly is the fountain of youth.
  4. I enjoy working out itself – some go to a shrink, I use the gym or toss on the ruck and go! (Stress buster.)

I think in the end, many of the fittest people I know share the same love of fitness and hard work. It has become a habit that might start with childhood sports and never reach a final destination.

From the younger future Tactical Athlete: 

When I hear comments like this from our younger generation, I am confident we have a bright future: 

"My training motivation reflects a revulsion against mediocrity and a refusal to be outworked. I train so that I can be strong for the team with which I'll one day serve. I train so that I can be the one of which Heraclitus spoke: the one who will ‘bring the others back.'"

Training hard is a part of me, and when you love something that much, motivation doesn't come from quotes and YouTube videos. It's just a matter of finding passion in the daily grind, building strong habits, and doing your job. There is no secret sauce. You don't need to know what perfect looks like, only what better looks like.

Half the battle is showing up – the rest will take care of itself.

Thank you all for the great ideas. Some of you are wise beyond your years. I ran out of space and could not post all of what you offered. Continue in the comments section if you wish to share your motivation to train.

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles on Military.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books: Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

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