Are you feeling a little burnt out with bodybuilding? Have your last few weeks of workouts been lackluster, your diet uninspiring, your progress average at best? If so, you're certainly not alone! Even the most hardcore bodybuilders and strength athletes feel a little uninspired from time to time, and few can maintain 100 percent effort day after day for years on end.
However, a temporary lack of motivation is no excuse to slack! If getting bigger, stronger, and leaner is what you really want, nothing should be able to derail you in the long term, save for perhaps a life-threatening injury or some other big emergency. You should always be HUNGRY for progress, and your overall passion for the endeavor should keep you training hard and eating right, even when your base instincts tell you to lay down and pig out!
The Problem with “Motivation”
There's certainly no problem with motivation per se, but I do take issue with all of the different ways people use the word. When discussing my bodybuilding and fitness career, my friends and family have often called me “motivated.” I train hard, I eat right, and I live the lifestyle day after day, not just because I have to to accomplish my professional goals, but because those goals are so important and inspiring to me. Plus, I've learned to love the process itself, even if it does seem a little monotonous or boring at times. To me, this is what the word “motivation” should be all about.
On the other hand, people who work jobs they hate, put up with people they can't stand, and live lives they don't really want may also be called “motivated.” They don't really want to do the things they do day after day, but they do because of certain responsibilities such as spouses, kids, mortgage payments, and more. I'm certainly not hating on these types of people – we've all got to survive somehow – but there's a world of difference between their motivation and the motivation of a dedicated athlete. One person is doing what he has to to make ends meet and avoid even worse circumstances, while the other is working hard to achieve his dreams.
So, why does this distinction even matter? It matters because I see so many “bodybuilders” who don't seem like they even enjoy the process. Some of these guys train hard, some don't, but the thing they share is a general disdain for the hard training, strict eating, and regimented lifestyle necessary to achieve a great physique or super strength.
Just as so many people spend years of their lives spinning their wheels in careers they can't stand, even some recreational lifters will plug away in the gym and in the kitchen when they don't really want to be bodybuilding. Ultimately you have to ask yourself, “What do I really want to be doing?” If bodybuilding is the answer, you should be HUNGRY to do whatever is necessary to reach your goals. It shouldn't be a chore.
Keeping it All Together
Even if you are truly hungry to achieve your bodybuilding goals, there are plenty of life circumstances that can mess with your head and take your eyes off the prize – but only if you let them. I'm talking financial hardships, job stress, relationship issues, and all of the other troubles that can make it all impossible to focus on what you really love. Ultimately, letting other aspects of your life fall by the wayside to focus solely on bodybuilding is a recipe for disaster.
No, if you want to keep that fire alive, you're ALSO going to have to keep it all together in every other area of life. You may not like your day job all that much, for example, but you can't pay for food and supps if you don't have any money. Likewise, you may not feel like you need a girlfriend or close group of friends at the moment, but you're going to get lonely and down in the dumps pretty soon if you don't work on cultivating some positive relationships.
So, as much as you may want to put all your time, effort and money into bodybuilding – and while that may seem like a good idea in the short term – it'll eventually catch up. We're all human, after all, and we can't become great at anything if we don't satisfy our basic needs. The next time you find yourself frustrated with your boss, your daily commute, or any of the other non-so-pleasant parts of your life, just think about how they ultimately contribute to making you a better bodybuilder. That kind of positive mindset will make your life a hell of a lot easier.
Finding Balance – not Compromise
Gung-ho newbies might roll their eyes at this one, but you've also got to find balance in life, and not make bodybuilding your ONLY passion or goal. If the only positive thing you have going for you is bodybuilding, and if your training session is the only thing you really look forward to every day, what are you going to do if you get injured or sick? What if some unforeseen circumstance keeps you out of the gym for a few weeks? If that's all you live for, life's going to get pretty hard to handle.
If you're focused on a few other endeavors, however, you'll always have something positive to fall back on. Maybe you've got a few other hobbies, another talent you can cultivate, or a group of friends who are into completely different things. Don't let these things slide just because your MAIN goal is bodybuilding!
This kind of balance doesn't require compromise, though. You can still hit every training session, eat every meal, and get all the sleep you need to progress. That stuff doesn't need to occupy every hour of every day, at least not if you've developed an efficient routine. Being a one-dimensional person is not only boring to others, it's draining on yourself, and you'll stay happier and more motivated to be a better bodybuilder by maintaining some balance.
Building a Better Life
If you're hungry to become a better bodybuilder or strength athlete – and if you understand the need to maintain balance and pursue other passions – you may actually come to a non-so-nice conclusion: you're not truly happy with the other areas of your life. I'm not talking about the down-in-the-dumps, constantly depressed kind of unhappy, but you might realize that bodybuilding is the only thing you've got that really drives you to be at your best.
The job you need to earn grocery money, the relationships you maintain because you don't want to be lonely, and the “hobbies” you pursue just to avoid boredom when you're not at the gym...if all of those things are just means to your bodybuilding ends, then you need to make some changes.
You're not going to transform your life overnight, of course, but you should always strive to improve every area of your life and find fulfillment with as much of your limited time as you can. In the long run, pursuing excellence in your career, relationships and other pursuits will make you a happier person AND a better bodybuilder.