Monday, October 11, 2010

How to get motivated

WHAT: As a former collegiate athlete, working out was a big part of the sport I competed in. Offseason workouts consisted of around seven months of vigorous training. After my college career ended, working out regularly has been a hard task to accomplish. Becoming motivated to workout and continuing to workout has been my main issue. There was no reinforcement implemented by a coach or teammates anymore. There are no goals already set for me, it is just whatever I want to accomplish with no one to impress but myself. There are days where I would normally workout but would just blow it off because I’m tired, sore, or have other tasks that I need to get done for school or etc. Sometimes after missing a workout it is very easy to miss the next one because I say to myself, “I didn’t work out yesterday so I can miss this day as well,” then it could turn into “I’ll just start fresh next week.” After noticing my schedule for the rest of the semester is starting to become more hectic, it will be harder to keep motivated to get my workouts in. I am too easy to put off my workouts for other tasks that could have been done earlier or at a different time and lack motivation for my workouts.

SO WHAT: After self-analyzing my situation, I determined that becoming motivated and the lack of reinforcement are my major problems. Malott and Suarez describe reinforcement as any stimulus, event, or condition whose presentation immediately follows a response and increases the frequency of that response (Gill & Williams, 2008). While a college athlete, many goals were in place for my training and now I just have an overall goal of staying fit. I believe that I need to set new specific goals need to be determined to achieve more motivation. Exercisers who set process goals had significantly higher intrinsic motivation and adherence to the six-week exercise program than exercisers who set outcome goals or no goals (Wilson & Brookfield, 2009). Along with setting new detailed goals, I will implement a behavioral plan. I will be using Spieigler and Guevremont’s seven step behavior plan; (1) Clarify the problem, (2) formulate goals for the consultant, (3) design target behaviors, (4) identify the maintaining conditions of the target behavior, (5) design a treatment plan, (6) implement the plan, and (7) evaluate the success of the plan (Gill & Williams, 2008).

NOW WHAT: I first need to determine outcome goals for myself to achieve by the end of my training period. These goals will include; weight, body fat percentage, 1RM’s for certain exercises, maximal repetitions for certain exercises, and the length of cardio sessions. Now I will move on to my behavioral plan. The first step is to clarify the problem, which is to stay motivated even with my schedule and my state of fatigue. The second step is to formulate goals for my training program. I already set outcome goals for my training program, now I will set some specific ones for it. Considering I have problems working out after skipping a day, I think that I should set a goal of getting in four workouts per week. This will give me the flexibility of missing a day if I have to while still getting the work in to achieve my long-term goals. Another goal will be to encourage friends to work out so I have some extra motivation or the ability to motivate someone else. The third step is to design target behaviors. I will use one of my resistance training programs that will work best for me to keep me on track of getting the lifts and repetitions I need to accomplish my goals. Being able to check them off on paper will help me stay motivated and to get through the entire workout. I will also design a cardio program to follow the resistance training program. This will be tailored to reach my running goal I have set for myself. The fourth step is to identify the maintaining conditions of the target behavior. To maintain my target behavior I will use the ABC model presented by Gill and Williams (2008). If consequences are positive, the behavior is likely to occur again in the future. If I notice the positive changes in my physique are due to staying true to my workout program then I will be even more motivated to stick with it or push myself even more to accomplish my goals. The fifth step is to design a treatment plan. Reinforcement will be used in this step. This could include people giving compliments on the way I look, the way I feel by sticking with my workout plan or by treating myself to some personal rewards. The sixth step is implementing the plan. The workout period needs to be given a date and monitored by checking off all my exercises and cardio after it has been accomplished. The last step is to evaluate the success of the plan. This step will be accomplished if I reached my goals that I previously set prior to starting the workout.

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, implementing goal setting and a behavioral plan can help give back the motivation I once had. Staying motivated to complete each workout will be a true test but it should be accomplishable with goals and the behavioral plan. Identifying my problem then create a written out plan to help change this will be a good way to stay self-regulated.


Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Wilson, K. , & Brookfield, D. (2009). Effect of goal setting on motivation and adherence in a six-week exercise program. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(1), 89.


  1. I think a lot of people can relate to he situation you are in. I remember when I was done with college, I had a lot of the same feeling. There was no coach telling me what to do...there was no game to focus and get ready for. It is totlly different when you are on your own and motivation is hard to come by. I like your idea of inviting friends to workout with you. Having someone else there to help hold you accuntable for your workout is very helpful. I also like the idea of "checking off" your exercises. This way you can see all that you have accomplished. Overall, good program. I wish you success with it.

  2. This sounds like an insightful and well-formed plan. I like that you’ve given yourself a little flexibility so you can skip a day if necessary. And I like that you have included getting help from your friends as well as some self-accountability with the checklists. I can relate to not having any external motivators and having trouble making the switch to self-motivation. And I can definitely relate to having a hectic schedule that makes it all too easy to talk myself into skipping a workout. I think you have designed a good plan that you’ll be able to stick to.