8 April 2020

Maintaining Your Motivation to Train

by Martin Refalo 0

COVID-19 has chewed up our plans for 2020 and has left many of us with a sincere lack of motivation. What can we do about this, how can we discover our inner motivation and why should we continue training? This 10-minute read will provide you with the answers you seek. A few months ago, motivation…

COVID-19 has chewed up our plans for 2020 and has left many of us with a sincere lack of motivation. What can we do about this, how can we discover our inner motivation and why should we continue training? This 10-minute read will provide you with the answers you seek.

A few months ago, motivation was high, training was going well and routine was fuelling daily behaviour. Now, things are a little, let’s say – out of whack. Who can relate? Let’s face it, over the next few months it’s going to be very hard to come by waves of motivation that give us the boost we need. And the thing is, we can’t just wait for these waves to come along. Waves of motivation are easy to come by when you’re hitting personal bests in the gym, but this is a different ball game and our whole outlook on training has been turned upside down, kicked around and left in solitude – we need to be adaptive, find meaningto this unforeseen situation and acquire a new training outlook. As a collective, we have to dig deep, take ownership of our individual circumstances and find the inner motivationto continue training.

I recently asked my client base two questions regarding their motivation:

  1. How motivated are you to training out of 10?The number ten on the sale denoted a state of being extremely motivated whereas the number one denoted a complete absence of motivation.
  2. What is the main reason for your motivation or demotivation?

Although my sample size (n = 25) was limited, and by no means can I make generalisations to the population as a whole, my client base is diverse and well represents many of the everyday gym-goers that are facing this motivation dilemma. The results were intriguing and may provide an insight into some viable strategies to preserve motivation.

Text Box: Figure 1 The graphic summarises the results from my two-question survey aimed at investigating the average motivation level of my client base and the key contributors to their motivation.

The ‘key motivators’were crystal-clear and stood high above other motivators like equipment availability. This was surprising, as many of my clients are lucky to have a surplus of equipment at their disposal but still rated other factors as being the greatest contributors to their motivation. Here is an insight into these key motivators and how you can harness their power:

1. Goal Setting

Although your initial training goals for 2020 may not be viable and you will be unable to walk through the doors of the gym for the foreseeable future, you can still set some goals to keep you on track. I understand it is hard to set significant goals, but this is where expectations need to be adjusted. Setting goals can help improve self-efficacybehaviour and health outcomes. This is the perfect time to sit with your coach and discuss a realistic training approach for the coming months and establish an intrinsicfocus. Being intrinsically focused will help fulfil your psychological needswhich is in my opinion, a necessity, during this time. If you don’t have a coach, get a pen and paper out. However, I do recommend seeking guidance throughout this period.

2. Training Program

Don’t wingyour training just because significant muscle growth is highly unlikely throughout this period. A structured program will work synergistically with your goals and give you direction, structure and urgency. More on this later, but JPS is doing a great job at creating customisable home programs(click the link!) for anyone to capitalise on. Not to mention, our new Virtual Group Coachingservice comes with a structured program and removes any guesswork from your end. This virtual service also ties in well with many of the other recommendations that lie in this article. For more information click the picture below!

3. Constant Support

I have been offering virtual (and/or email) check-ins to ensure I can continue providing support to each and every one of my clients. I have found this to be a beneficial experience for not only my clients (as the survey shows) but also for myself.  Support is crucial throughout this time and needs to occur collectively. We all need to support each other but when it comes to your training goals, having that somebody to consult with is essential.  

The key motivators, although lacking robust evidence will help protect your motivation from plummeting, and at JPS we are dedicating ourselves to providing the helping handthat many people direly need. Furthermore, understanding fundamental reasons as to why you should continue training will hopefully harness your inner motivation – I don’t have any evidence for this, but I know they have definitely harnessed mine (n = 1)!

1. Muscle Maintenance

It takes far less volume to maintain your muscle mass then it takes to build it, and I mean FAR LESS. I don’t know about you, but I think this is an awe-inspiring fact. You may feel like you have lost muscle, but trust me, this is unlikely if you are training and eating adequately. Think about your muscles as water balloons – you can fill a balloon with water and cause it to expand, then proceed to drain some water and manipulate its size. The raw material of the balloon hasn’t actually changed in size but its transient content has. Muscles are the same, lots of training causes them to expand and less training causes a deflating effect. But the raw material, the muscle itself, will be there if you are completing around 65% of your usualtrainingworkload. This equates to about 5-10 hard (and effective) sets (for most people) for each muscle group per week. That’s not much at all if you ask me! The programs that we are currently offering have got you covered with all the pertinent factors that will allow you to maintain your muscle.

2. Think about your future self

When your future-self is ready to walk through the reopened doors of the gym, would they be starting from scratch or picking up where they left off? How would your future-self feel about this? I did say maintaining muscle is a definite possibility, however, detraining can happen quick smart if you don’t train at all. Take this opportunity to set your future-self up for success. Don’t use the ‘not enjoying home training’ excuse, the gym isn’t going anywhere and you need to be ready once this storm blows over. If you really aren’t enjoying home training, talk to us about it. There are many strategies we can implement to cater for your enjoyment even with a lack of equipment.

3. Mental wellbeing

The mental benefits of exercise are well-documented and the release of endorphins you get after a run or a hard weight-training session is something that we all need here and there. Training also allows us to connect with others and this social dimension of mental wellbeing can’t be ignored. This is one of the main reasons why the JPS Virtual Group Coaching service was born. We wanted to bring the community feel – that so many of our members love – to your home. So far, this service has been of great success, with many of our participants commenting about the social aspect of virtual group training. You’d be surprised, its quite fun!

4. Routine

Don’t let your routine be completely overthrown. Routine usually fuels our daily actions and considering most of us are spending more time at home, I understand that this is not what we are used to. However, this isn’t an excuse to live with no routine! Being adaptive is critical and I am recommending all of my clients to keep their training routine as ‘normal’ as possible. Training on the same days and at similar times will help tremendously over the coming months. You don’t have to do this; keeping some aspects of your normal routine in place or creating a new routine are also great options. Try and schedule in your new training times throughout the week to keep yourself accountable and don’t disregard routine just because you are spending most of your time at home! We have had to run two sessions each day as part of our Virtual Group Coaching service to cater to the varying routines of our participants. Don’t underestimate the power of routine!

I hope this piece has given you an insight into some strategies that can help maintain your motivation to train from home whilst your local gym is closed. This situation is foreign to everyone and I can only speak based on my experiences so far and on behalf of the JPS coaching team. We are trying our best to keep clients on track using the strategies I have outlined (plus many more) and our Virtual Group Coachingservice has received an outstanding response so far. If you are struggling with motivation throughout this period, feel free to reach out. Like I said, we will endeavour to provide a helping handand will ensure your future-self will be thankful of the effort that you put into your training throughout this tough time.

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