Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

Powerlifting for All

Check out one of my favorite interviews below stressing the importance of lifting…and lifting HEAVY! This goes for males and females.  Ladies, you will NOT get bulky! If you haven’t taken my word on that yet maybe you will be convinced by Jean Fry, a very attractive and very successful powerlifter.  Thank you Jordan with Syatt Fitness for the great interview.

JS: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, Jean. You’ve honestly been a huge inspiration, not only to me, but to thousands of people world-wide as a strength athlete and fitness professional. I know my readers will tremendously benefit from listening to what you have to say.

 JF: That’s so sweet, Jordan, thank you! I really am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to train where I do, to have a loving family that supports me, and to be able to teach and affect so many people with my work. I sure hope they benefit from what I teach them…. But truth is, they are really the ones who inspire me!

JS: Alright, well before we get into the meat of the interview would you mind briefly telling everyone a little bit about yourself such as who you are, what you do, where you train, and why you began training in the first place?

JF:  Well, I got my first taste of the gym at 15; I was the extremely sheltered, shy only child who had always wanted to be a track sprinter, but therefore lacked the confidence to do it until high school. When a coworker introduced me to my now-good friend Scott Vickery, a gym owner and GREAT trainer nearby, it was game on! He took me under his wing and not only got me ready for track, but taught me how to TRAIN, which developed into competing in powerlifting.  Keeping a consistent schedule was tough once I joined the United States Air Force (USAF) and then went off to school at Ohio State, but I never stopped!

Ten years later, I have since graduated, gotten married, become a personal trainer/ nutrition coach, and most recently accepted a position as Health and Wellness Director for the YMCA. Since getting the invite from Louie Simmons himself at the Pro/Am in 2007, I have trained on the morning crew at Westside Barbell, and couldn’t be more grateful every day I walk into that place! It’s so humbling to know that so many of the greats were/ are there, too!

JS: And just for the record, would you mind telling everyone your personal best 1 repetition maximum (1RM) in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift?

JF: Of course! My most recent meet was about 6 weeks ago (at the Powerstation Pro-Am), marking my 4-yr anniversary at Westside. I squatted 415lbs and deadlifted 375lbs at a body-weight of 123lbs; I also scraped out a pro total with 1025lbs (despite having a terrible bench day). My best benches to date are 250lbs at a body-weight of 123lbs and 230lbs at a body-weight of 114lbs.


Jean with 415lbs on her back.

 JS: Many women tend to shy away from Powerlifting and strength training in general as they’re under the impression it will cause them to instantly bulk-up. Instead, these women feel their time would be better spent on cardio machines, while occasionally making use of those neatly color-coordinated 2.5-5lb dumbbells. If you could give these women any advice, what would you tell them?

JF: Ahh, the CARDIO QUEENS! Look- here’s the deal… and you may have all heard this before but let me re-iterate. We as natural-borne females have not had the same amounts of testosterone “bestowed” upon us that most males have been. Thus, our ability to build muscle to those extremes is non-existent. So get off your pretty little machine and DO SOMETHING worthwhile! I am living proof. I started the sport when I was 15 years old and 117lbs (keep in mind, I was burning more cals via track, too). Ten years of heavy-lifting later, I am 5’5 and 130lbs, and wore my high school prom dress to a USAF formal dinner last year.


JS: What about the women who do cardio because they legitimately enjoy it? Is it possible to incorporate strength training and cardio at the same time? Should one be made a priority over the other?

JF: Sure! Lots of people do cardio for fun (not my preferred method of enjoyment, but hey!). Some people like it because it enables them to “zone out,” which is fine. Others do it just because they like how jacked their heart rate gets and the sweat that starts rolling in a brief amount of time. For those people, circuit training with weights would really be a great option to get both aerobic and anaerobic in at once.  Even if you are competing in marathons, a well-balanced training regime should NEVER consist of cardio alone.

However, in my opinion, I do believe strength should take precedence (for example, my cardio consists of dragging a sled, weighted box jumps, and a long, high-incline hike on the treadmill a couple times per week or cycle interval if I want to burn some extra body fat). Strength training =more muscle mass= higher metabolism = more cals burned at rest. So not only are you burning cals while you train, you burn more the rest of your day as well. Sounds like a no-brainer to me! BUT don’t forget about diet- it will stop any composition change from happening dead in its tracks.


JS: Many women are simply looking to get “toned,” and don’t care about being strong. Why might this be an issue and what do you tell women who express this as a major concern?

JF: Again, most women assume that cardio will get them “toned”- much like not eating will. Although both may result in a minimal loss (followed by a plateau) on the scales, the body will begin to eat its own muscle to live. Most women will not be pleased when their hair is dull, nails thin and break, and they develop skin issues as a result. I like to spin the “toned” look women want into a “healthy” look. In other words, we have to focus on burning body fat, while ALSO building muscle to be healthy and get results. In addition, lifting weights is important for women from their 20’s and older to ensure that our bones stay strong and healthy!


JS: For the general fitness enthusiast, female or male, do you think basing the majority of their training routine on the principles of Powerlifting and/or strength training would be beneficial? Why or why not?

JF: Absolutely! In our (powerlifting) training, we obviously physically condition the body, but what some fail to realize is, we train to condition the mind as well. One aspect of how a Westside “template” is set up, so to speak, is in a way that we are constantly setting and breaking PR’s (personal records). We rarely do a 1RM of the  “Classic lifts” (i.e. Squat/Bench/ Deadlift) as we would in a meet; rather, we do a rotation of similar lifts, establishing separate PR’s with different bars, bands,  weight releasers, and grips. This enables our lifters to consistently build confidence levels as well, allowing us better focus at a meet.

This relates well to the general fitness enthusiast, because from my experience, people are driven by results. This method of training (referred to as The Conjugate System) allows them to see new personal records on a regular basis, motivating them to stick with their training program consistently for a longer period of time.

JS: What, in your opinion, are the biggest misconceptions in regard to strength training today?JF: Well, we already discussed the myth about females, so let’s continue with the rest of my Top 5 Pet Peeves:

  • Guys who think they are going to get a bigger bench press by coming in every day and, you guessed it, bench pressing.  As discussed in the last question, our training utilizes The Conjugate System, rotating major exercises every 1-3 weeks (depending on if we are training maximal strength or speed-strength) to consistently hit PR’s for the psychological aspect. However, we do this for the physical benefit, as well. You will not get stronger by doing the same exercises over. And over. And over. It’s the law of accommodation- you must switch it up every 2-3 three weeks or your muscles will adapt to what you are doing and stop responding via hypertrophy!
  • You can’t work the same muscle every day. PLEASE wait 48-72 hours. Enough said. Oh- and while we’re at it, please don’t rep like a speed demon and heave the weights via momentum and think you are doing anything other than hurting yourself. Thank you.
  • The “followers.” Learn what YOUR weaknesses are and do supplemental exercises to bring YOUR weaknesses up to par. I see way too many guys out there who think just tagging along with a friend’s routine will get them optimal results.
  • DIET! It is NOT a myth that you need protein post- work out to achieve the maximum muscle gain. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself ~ 1hour window upon completion to get protein back into your muscles and rebuild over what was broken down. Avoid skipping that post-work out meal; sure, you’ll still burn calories, but you will do more harm than good in the long-run.

JS: What does strength mean to you, and why is being strong so important?

JF: Strength is a combination of willpower and physical talent. You can’t go wrong in life by having both of these in your back pocket!

JS: Jean, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions. You’re truly beyond inspirational and a great friend. I know everyone (myself included) has thoroughly benefited from your generosity and knowledge. I’m very excited to see what my readers have to say in response to this article. Thank you so much, Jean!

 JF: No problem, Jordan- thanks for the opportunity! It was great getting to work with you while you were in town, and I wish all the best to you in life, health, career, and training. To everyone else reading this, TRAIN HARD! Whether it be your own health, or in competition, take control of your own destiny.

In the words of Louie Simmons, “the real contest is within yourself.”


Athlete Swimming to Greatness after Paralysis

(CNN) — Hope was stirring for Mallory Weggemann just 11 weeks after she lost movement below the waist.

Weggemann, who didn’t even try to make a college swim team when she could walk, was at a Minnesota pool with a club coach she’d just met. The teen wanted to know if she could return to the sport she knew as a girl — only now with absolutely no kick.

Her father told two of her old high school swimming friends — only half kidding — that they’d need to save Mallory should she start drowning.

“I didn’t know if she was going to float or what was going to happen,” Chris Weggemann recalled of that day in 2008. “But she took off swimming, and she got to the wall, and she said, ‘All right, what do I do now?’ ”

What she’s done in the three years since is smash world para-swimming records, collect an ESPY Award, swim on an NCAA Division I college team and put herself on course for what she hopes is a historic run at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

She was done with competitive swimming after high school, but the pool called her back after she became a paraplegic.

She was done with competitive swimming after high school, but the pool called her back after she became a paraplegic.

Heading into this week’s Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Edmonton, Alberta — where she’s won three golds in the first two days of a five-day event — she held 15 world records in her physical ability class. Of the seven solo events to be held in London in her class, she is world champion in six.

“When I got back into the water, it was a real turning point for me — for my mental state, my physical state, everything,” Mallory Weggemann, 22, of Eagan, Minnesota, said this month. “It brought back the emotion that I have and the passion that I have for the water.”

The transition from an able-bodied girl who had hung up her goggles to a world-beating para-swimmer began with an injection three years ago.

Weggemann began having severe lower back pain in high school following a case of shingles. After several unsuccessful treatments, she was prescribed three epidural injections over a number of months, and the first two brought pain relief. But after the third, in January 2008, numbness in the college freshman’s legs didn’t recede, her family says.

She was transferred from a clinic to a hospital. About three weeks in, doctors told her she needed to learn how to use a wheelchair. Complications from the procedure had paralyzed her from the waist down.

It was an unusual result: Though the risk of paralysis stemming from epidural injections varies by type and location, paralysis from epidurals in the lower back is exceedingly rare, said a physician not involved in her care, Dr. Steven P. Cohen, a pain medicine specialist at Johns Hopkins and director of pain research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Grieving and slow to accept the paralysis, Weggemann made a list of things she would do — but only when she could walk again: Return to class. Travel. Even try out for a college team.

“I was down in the dumps, kind of confused, and asking ‘why-me’ questions, not knowing what was going to be next,” she said, recalling her return home in a wheelchair after weeks of rehab.

Then one of her sisters, trying to cheer her up in April 2008, took her to the University of Minnesota to watch the U.S. swimming trials for that year’s Beijing Paralympic Games.

Weggemann, who started swimming at age 7, saw athletes leave their wheelchairs and crutches and do their thing in the water. She went down to the pool deck and talked with coaches, including Jim Andersen, a longtime club swim coach who only recently had started guiding disabled athletes.

Suddenly, Weggemann wasn’t thinking about goals for a time that might not come. She wondered what she could do now.

A few days later, she had her first practice with Andersen, launching a partnership that would see Weggemann — viewing swimming as something to pour her energy and grief into — test the limits of her newly constrained body.

“When Mallory gets in the water, she feels normal. And I think it made her grow up,” Andersen, 60, said of her return to the pool. “I can’t imagine how devastating it would be to have happened what happened to her, and what my mental mind-set would have been. But (swimming) was a great thing to enable her to recover.”

Weggemann, 22, starts races from a block, swinging her upper body forward with her arms.

Weggemann, 22, starts races from a block, swinging her upper body forward with her arms.

The beginning wasn’t easy.

Not all para-swimmers are unable to kick. Some have dwarfism; some are missing a limb; others have a number of other disabilities but can move their legs. Weggemann’s challenge was not only propelling herself solely with her upper body, but also making turns and starting off a block.

Instead of a flipping and kicking off a wall, she learned to push off with her hands, redirecting herself in a semicircular motion. On the starting block, she can crouch and dive into the water, but does so by grabbing the block and swinging her upper body forward, rather than pushing with her legs.

She found her initial competition at able-bodied club meets. At the first one in May 2008, Weggemann, then 19, looked at her 9-year-old competitors and then shot a glance at her dad.

“She looks over with this look of, ‘If these guys beat me,’ ” Chris Weggemann said. “And they did.”

"I can get out of my chair, and it's just me and the water, and I can move about freely," Weggemann says.

Undeterred, she saw chasing the able-bodied as a game: See how close she could get, chase them for faster times.

Soon, she was not only keeping up with the competition at disabled meets but also beating able-bodied collegians.

She transferred from her small school near Eagan to Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina in January 2009. The kid who thought she wasn’t good enough for a big program before paralysis was now a full member of a Division I team.

Weggemann didn’t win any races at the conference meet in February. But she beat some able-bodied competitors in preliminary heats and electrified her team, Gardner-Webb coach Mike Simpson said.

Beating able-bodied athletes was just an extra, because she was focused on improving her times, Simpson said. But spectators “were pretty blown away” when she beat some swimmers in her 500-yard freestyle heat.

Ahead of the London games, Weggemann -- on a two-year break from college -- will train six days a week in the pool.

Ahead of the London games, Weggemann — on a two-year break from college — will train six days a week in the pool.

“She added a lot to the team,” he said. “When you have people swim way faster than their best time, that creates momentum and energy for the rest of the team. … (Her performance) got everyone else really excited.”

After that, para-swimming records fell and ambitions rose.

At a USA Swimming meet in Minnesota in May 2009, she swam 1:26.20 in the 100-meter butterfly, breaking the old top U.S. mark in her class, 1:28.12.

That summer in Edmonton, she broke three long-course world records, including in the 400-meter freestyle. Her 5:12.30 time in that event beat the record, which had stood for nine years, by almost five seconds.

She transferred to the University of Minnesota that fall — not to join the team, but to train again with Andersen. She broke several other world records in following months, but her signature moment came the next summer.

Weggemann wants seven individual golds at London. She's the world record holder in five of those events, champ in six.

At the long-course para-swimming world championships in August 2010, Weggemann took eight gold medals and one silver, and broke nine world records, in individual races and relay events with her U.S. teammates. Her record time in the 100-meter freestyle was 1:08.45. “There’s a lot of able-bodied swimmers who can’t swim that fast,” Andersen said.

And she swam the 100-meter breaststroke final in 1:35.51 — four seconds faster than a world record that a competitor had set in a preliminary heat.

For her performance in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Weggemann last month won ESPN’s 2011 EPSY Award for best female athlete with a disability.

Back in 2009, she told Swimming World magazine that she hoped to win a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Now she wants all seven individual golds — a feat last done at the 2004 Athens Paralympics by American and two-time ESPY winner Erin Popovich.

Weggemann gives much of the credit for her success to her coach, Jim Andersen.

Weggemann gives much of the credit for her success to her coach, Jim Andersen.

And Weggemann — a public relations student on leave until the 2012 games — wants to set world records in each of those events along the way.

“This falls into being a mental game for me,” said Weggemann, who credits Andersen and her family for her success and ability to carry on. “If I can win one (gold), I don’t want to stop at one. I want two and then three. I want to push my body as hard as I can push it.”

Weggemann has been a role model for able-bodied and disabled alike, said Jim Hanton, administrative vice chair for Minnesota Swimming. She has lobbied high-profile state meets to include heats specifically for disabled athletes, and she’s made herself available to young swimmers, speaking to high school teams and showing kids around the aquatic center, he said.

 “I’m a big fan,” Hanton said. “She always has a smile on her face. I think of all the athletes who are grumpy and everything else — she’s happy.”

Weggemann is working herself back into shape following illnesses in late 2010 and early 2011, and will hope to be in top form for the U.S. Paralympic trials in March in South Dakota.

If she’s happy, it’s partly because she found her way back to familiar surroundings so quickly after her paralysis.

“It’s something where I can get out of my chair, and it’s just me and the water, and I can move about freely,” she said. “Even when my competitive days are over, I’ll still need that, because it’s a big part of who I am and what I know.”

By Jason Hanna,CNN

Monday Motivation

Super Seniors in Better Shape than YOU

EverydayHealth posted a great article the other day, 10 Super Seniors We Admire.  This list shows amazing feats (impressive at ANY age!) that Seniors have accomplished.  A few on this list prove that fitness can be mastered at any stage in your life, no matter how old you are.  It goes to show that it’s really not how old you are but how old you feel and act.

Check out some of the amazing individuals:

Gladys Burrill aka “The Gladyator”

 Gladys Burrill The Matriarch of Marathons

Gladys completed her first (but definitely not her last) marathon at the age of 86 after being inspired by the early morning fireworks kicking off the Honolulu Marathon the previous year.  She is now 92 and is still going strong.  After the Honolulu Marathon December of 2010, Gladys became the oldest woman ever to complete a marathon according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  Gladys feels that it is her attitude that keeps her going so strong.  “It’s so important to think positive,” she told NBC Sports. “It makes such a difference in how you feel and your outlook on everything.”  We couldn’t agree more, Gladyator!!

Frances Woofenden: The Super Skiing Senior

 Frances Woofenden: The Senior on Skis

Frances is a competitive water skier at the age of 84-years-old.  She didn’t start waterskiing until her mid 50’s but since then, she has earned over 100 medals.  She wanted to pick up something new that was fun and active that would keep her feeling young and healthy.  Water skiing did the trick!  Frances is also as stylish as she is skilled.  Even in the water she is always decked out in gold earring and hot pink lipstick.  Lookin’ good Frances!

Ernestine Shepherd: Oldest Female Bodybuilder


Ernestine is the world’s oldest bodybuilder and not missing a step at 74-years-old.  Her daily routine entails waking up at 3 am to run and lift weights.  Ernestine is inspired by Sylvester Stallone as she is a die-hard Rocky fan.  Ernestine runs over 80 miles a week and can bench press 150 pounds!  How many miles are you running a week? I bet (hope) this makes you want to run more, whatever your answer may be.

John “Zapped” Zapotocky

 Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

John fell in love with the ocean in 1940 when he moved to Hawaii and has now been paddling for longer than most of you have been alive.  John is the oldest Beachboy Surfer in the world and the oldest regular surfer in Waikiki.  John has never let his two artificial knees or his age slow him down. In regard to eating habits, John states, “If you’re gonna eat something, eat something fresh.”  He snacks on papaya and mangos, which he grows in his backyard.  John as always believed it’s the ocean that has kept him young and he hopes to be out surfing until he is at least 100 years old.

Mark Covert


Mark does not have quite as many years as the rest of the seniors on this list, but considering his past 40 years, I do not see him slowing down anytime soon.  Mark is believed to maintain the 2nd longest street of running every single say in the world.  His streak began on July 23rd, 1968 and continues to today.  Mark says he still looks forward to running every day, the trees just seem to go by a little slower now.  Next time you want to skip the gym because you are too tired or think you are too busy…think of Mark Covert!

…are YOU ready to hit the gym now?

Instant Motivation

Check out this video of ASU’s Anthony Robles.  Anthony won the 125-pound NCAA wrestling championship by defeating Matt McDonough 7-1.  What makes this feat so amazing is the fact that Anthony was born with only 1 leg.  Watch a true competitor overcome adversity and reach his goals.  Let this motivate you and encourage you to stick with your goals, no matter how hard achieving them may seem to be.  Mind almost always takes precedence over matter.

7-year-old You Don’t Want to Mess With!

Gym makes you pay more when you DON’T go

Interesting article from The Next Web.  Harvard grads have come up with a program that will make you pay when you miss a workout.  Thoughts?  If you can’t find the motivation elsewhere, would saving money get YOU to the gym???


It’s the time of the year when everyone signs up for a yearly subscription to their favorite gym that more often than not, are only used a couple of weeks but due to laziness, busy schedules, or whatever reason are completely neglected throughout the year. Two Harvard graduates, however, are determined to change that.

Gym-pact is the brain child of Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer, who thought of an effective way to motivate people to visit the gym regularly. According to Zhang, one of the problems is that most members see gym membership fees as money spent, or “a sunk cost, especially if you pay at the beginning of the year.’’

Gym-pact offers what Zhang calls “motivational fees” where customers agree to pay more if they miss their scheduled workouts. They came up with the concept from their behavioral economics class in Harvard where they were taught that people are more motivated by immediate consequences than future possibilities.

True enough, after thinking about it, it’s more difficult for for anyone to have to dish out cash while missing a gym session rather that say, gaining a couple of pounds, a bigger waistline, or other health consequences that may or may not even happen in the future. This might not be a crazy idea after all.

Basically, Gym-pact operates by negotiating a group rate with Planet Fitness, then paying off the membership fees for participants. They will agree on a weekly schedule and if the members miss a session or opt out of the program for unexcused reasons, they will have to pay. That money will be used to pay for more gym memberships and to build a financial aid fund. The company will eventually make money from referral fees and revenue-sharing affiliate programs with gyms.

The founders plan to tweak the fee structure to allow it to be customized to a customer’s goals. Future iterations may include a combination of discounted gym memberships and smaller penalties that apply daily rather than weekly.

This just might be the gym program that will be get me back into shape. Gyms could really learn a thing or two from this and I hope to see more of it around the globe.

Motivational Movies to Get Your Butt in Gear

Need some motivation to hit the gym? Sit on the couch for 1-2 more hours with some almonds, fresh fruit, or other healthy snack to much on (NO buttery pop-corn!) and get inspiration from these movies!

Million Dollar Baby

In this Oscar winning movie, Hilary Swank not only learned to move and box like a real fighter, but drastically changed her physique by heavy weight lifting.


Watching these rock hard bodies fight for 3 hours is sure gonna make you want to hit the weights hard.


Cliche, yes, but it will get you fired up either way. Any of the Rocky movies should do the trick.  I recommend putting the theme song on your ipod for an extra boost when you finally do make it to the gym!

GI Jane

Demi Moore been recruited as the first female SEAL trainee through a series of backroom political maneuvers, and must prove her military staying power against formidable odds–not the least of which is the abuse of a tyrannical master chief who puts her through hell to improve her chances of success.

Dirty Dancing

Wanted to include one for you ladies, even though I hope you get motivated to pump some iron as well!  But if dancing is your thing…this should do the trick.  Zumba anyone?

Supersize Me

Hopefully this one will kill 2 birds with one stone.  No more fast food!!!  And get your butt in gear!

Fight Club

Aggressive male machoism at its best. Rather than being monstrous, Brad’s ripped physique was lean and cut.  This is a tough physique to achieve… hard to be done without good genetics, personal trainers, and a 24/7 chef.

What other movies motivate you to hit the gym???

25 Motivational Fitness Quotes

1. Strive for progress, not perfection. -Unknown
2. You want me to do something… tell me I can’t do it. -Maya Angelou
3. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky
4. If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying. -Unknown
5. You live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is wasted. -Ruth E. Renkl
6. Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. -Mahatma Gandhi
7. Motivation will almost always beat mere talent. -Norman R. Augustine
8. I’d rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate. -George Burns
9. Energy and persistence conquer all things. -Benjamin Franklin
10. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. -Aesop
12. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein
13. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz
14. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. -Jim Ryan
15. I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. -Michael Jordan
16. Fear is what stops you… courages is what keeps you going. -Unknown
17. The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. -Unknown
18. The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline. -Steve Smith
19. Just do it.™ -Nike
20. In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself. -Anonymous
21. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain
22. It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -Anonymous
23. Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. -Oprah Winfrey
24. It’s never too late to become what you might have been. -George Elliot
25. Clear your mind of can’t. -Samuel Johnson

Don’t Let Post-Summer Blues Get You Out Of Your Routine…

If you are like most people, your motivation typically peaks in early June, subsides when fall hits, then picks back up for a month or two in early January.  This is the workout cycle of millions of people across the globe.  With fall well under way, your motivation to hit the gym is probably starting to wane.  You worked hard all summer to show off that (almost) six pack, but what’s the point now you may be asking.

I’ll be the first to admit, getting yourself to work out on a Monday evening after work, when it’s dark by 5:30, drizzly, and cold out is a bit tough.  The dark, cold weather is definitely a buzz kill and can sap the mental motivation of even the most determined individuals.  To make matters worse, the longer the “break” you take from working out, the harder it will be to get back into the swing of things. 

In order to achieve the body and lifestyle almost all of us crave, we cannot be seasonal warriors.  Working out hard for 6 months a year is great, but it’s the 6 months you’re not working out that is going to really hurt you.  One step forward and one step back gets you no where.  There’s no point in working out hard for part of the year only to lose all the gains you made.  Then, you start right back over when you start working out again.  How would it feel to have a six pack next summer, as opposed to the almost there, still soft, sorry excuse for a six pack that you’ll develop after a couple of months of working out and laying off the breakfast burritos. 

By working your body hard and then laying off for a few months, you condition your muscles and system in such a way that making long-lasting gains becomes more difficult.  If this cycle is repeated long-term, year after year, for multiple years, you’re going to need to work twice as hard to get where you want to be.  Since you are having a hard time working hard 12 months a year as it is, you can forget about ever having the body and lifestyle you want.

That said, not all breaks are bad.  After 3-4 months of serious exercise, it is good to take a solid 2 weeks off and let your body fully recover.  Often times, you will find you are stronger post-break than you were before taking time off.  Your muscles really regenerate themselves and come back twice as strong.  There is however always the danger that your two weeks off turns into many more.  This is where self-discipline and determination come into play.  Don’t view your time off as a vacation from exercise.  View it is an important part of the process in toning and developing your body.  Keep your eating habits during this two weeks off and make the break work for you, not against you.

In order to keep your motivation where it needs to be through the doldrums of winter, there are several things you can do;

  • Find indoor activities that you don’t typically take part in during the summer.  Start playing pick-up basketball at your gym once a week.  Get involved with group fitness classes.  Take up kick boxing.  The options are endless.  Bottomline, find something you wouldn’t typically do during the summer because you’d rather be outside.
  • In your workout journal, write down monthly goals for October-January.  Each month, give yourself a different goal you want to obtain.  Maybe its lose 10 pounds in the month of November.  Maybe it’s bench 225 lbs. by the end of December.  It doesn’t matter.  Studies show that people who have concise, short-term goals will stay more motivated than those that are just aimlessly working out because they feel they have to.  Continually shoot for loftier goals and push yourself to complete them.
  • Remind yourself why you are working out.  We all know how painful working out can be some days.  On days like that, remind yourself that you are working out today so that tomorrow isn’t in vain.  What’s the point of experiencing the workout pain and struggles every summer and new year’s if you are just going to allow it to fade away when your motivation levels sink.  Oft repeated, and a bit cliché, but absolutely true; one step forward and one step backwards gets you no where. 
  • Take pride in the sacrifice.  When you are coming out of the gym all sweaty and the cold evening air hits you, take pride in knowing that you are out there doing something productive while other people are sitting around at home eating crap and packing on the winter pounds.  You on the other hand are determined, you are becoming stronger, both and physically and mentally…you are a machine!  Take time to appreciate your efforts and accomplishments. 

The more you “force” yourself to get to the gym, the easier it becomes the next time.  Elementary human psychology tells us that.  Tough it out on the “bleh” days and you will notice they become fewer and farther between.  Just think how good you are going to look this summer after having worked out for 12 months straight.  You are going to be a different person, both physically and mentally.  Employ a little self-discipline and the results will follow.

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