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Training Motivation: Obstacles, And How to Overcome Them
Feb 9th, 2010 - written by Stephan in Psychology

Regular training is the foundation for a successful development of one's body and one's skills in any area. Since there will always be reasons and excuses to interrupt this important routine, or even to not begin at all, youīll now learn how to deal with the most popular obstacles and how to overcome them.

Street's disciples. Image credit by Laurent Filoche


Time is the only thing in the world that really unites all human beings. Everyone has every day of his life exactly 24 hours at his disposal, regardless of age, wealth, place of residence and all other circumstances, it is to the second exactly 24 hours. The key questions are:
  • How do I spend my time? Meaningful or meaningless?
  • Why are a lot of very busy and successful people able to keep themselves physically fit, while many others who have only a fraction of the workload do not have time for that?

Time Management

Knowing how to use the given time is an important reason for success or failure. Iīm not talking about completely well planned days, because you still need room for spontaneous decisions. However, specific (training)goals can only be achieved with good time management..
  • Plan your days and weeks in advance. Things like training at the gym, running, squash, or other physical activities need fixed times in the calendar. Everyone, even the busiest people, are able to find a free hour for physical activity for 2-3 times a week. If it is not anchored in the course of a day, there is an almost 100% chance that something comes in between.
  • Use even small opportunities for physical activity. A short training during the lunch break is a perfect mental relaxation and, if properly done, provides new energy for the rest of the day. Use stairs instead of the elevator. Spend delays with short stretches.
  • Do things simultaneously. We live in a world today, where it is necessary for us to handle more and more activities at the same time. Therefore for most people it is quite simple to connect certain processes of everyday life with a bit of fitness. You can walk or cycle short to medium distances. Carrying heavy shopping bags even increases the training effect. Park the car spontaneously in a free car park a little further away and walk to your destination. Studies have shown that this actually saves time, because it spares the later search for a parking place. Get on a home trainer during long phone calls, while watching TV or while organizing the following week.
  • Train at home. If you canīt make it to the gym, you can exercise at home anytime. Even short workouts of 10-15 Minuit are better than doing nothing. A few dumbbells, an elastic band, a mat and an exercise bike is the perfect basic home gym and offers countless training options.
  • Sleep less. Most people spend way too much time in bed. An adult needs about 6-7 hours of sleep per day, whatever goes beyond that is a waste of life time. Also, if you sleep longer, you usually feel tire afterwards, because your metabolism decreases way too far. You even increase your risk for a heart attack by sleeping too long.


Motivation is a key requirement to stay on the track. Without a motive, which is a good reason, even small goals will be difficult to achieve. The following strategies are very effective motivational tools.
  • Set realistic goals. You need to have a long-term goal, such as fat loss, muscle-building, relief from back pain, etc., which has to be split up into medium-and short-term goals. Considered even achieving these smaller goals, such as running a new circuit, the increase of the current training weights or the next pound more or less on the scale, as great success and reward yourself.
  • Create enjoyable circumstances. Find out what kind of training you like most. There are endless possibilities. However, it should match your current training goal. If you want to reduce excess body fat, you need to do some strength training, whether you like it or not. You also have to revise your dietary habits.
  • Find a training partner. Fixed appointments for a joint training provide extra drive. He or she should, however, have about the same goals and basic conditions, otherwise you risk own under- or overload. It is important not to totally depend on your training partner. Train, even if he or she cannot make it.
  • Join a training group. There are training groups for almost any sport, where you'll meet people with same interests and where you receive helpful information about your favorite sport and finally your training and your level of motivation receive some extra momentum.
  • Adjust your training routine. Monotony is the most effective motivation killer. Regular changes of the training exercises and reps at the gym, new running routes or trying completely different sports are a new stimulus for your body and mind and offer new motivation.
  • Motivational media. Listen to (loud) music while exercising, no matter if youīre in the gym or on a forest path. It is okay as long as it pushes you forward and motivates you. Read professional magazines and books about your favorite sport. That usually generates new ideas and motivation.
  • Motivational affirmations. If you donīt receive external motivation, for example from a trainer, you have to motivate yourself. Create your own motivational slogan or rhyme that you keep repeating again and again while running or lifting weights. Shout it out loud, or at least do it in your mind.


Frustration often results in lethargy. And lethargy in turn creates more frustration. Avoid this vicious circle. Be realistic, but ambitious, when it comes to your goals. Any progress takes some time. Concentrate on the long-term goal, do the necessary steps but donīt get used to it. Once a strategy is not working, update your knowledge and ideas and change it. And whatever happens, stay in motion.
  • Track your progress. Take regular control of body weight and body fat percentage. Measure important body circumferences / sizes like hips, waist, chest / back, upper arms, thigh, etc. at about every 2 months. If you donīt make any progress, adjust your program, preferably under supervision of a trainer.
  • Track your performance. A training diary is part of a targeted training, as well as regular fitness tests. If there is any stagnation or even regression, change your strategy.
  • Distractions. Always keep the long-term goal in mind, regardless of external circumstances. Life changes constantly, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. These completely normal processes are no acceptable excuses or reasons for the loss of motivation, because that ultimately causes an even more negative development.
  • Fatigue. A physically active body usually knows exactly what it needs and it tells you so. Often itīs just a lack of time or interest, why people donīt listen to their body. If you feel weak and exhausted, try the following:
    • Steadiness. Usually training should preferably take place at the same time of the day. Your body adapts to it and can then carry out better performances. Also one's own sleep patterns and the timing of meals should remain relatively constant.
    • Enough sleep. For most adults 6-7 hours of sleep are enough. Whoever gets much less than 6 hours of sleep over a long period, risks health problems, a lack of regeneration and performance issues. A short nap of 20-25 minutes provides a very good balance for short nights.
    • Avoid over-training. If your performance level drops, it usually is a sign of over-training. In that case you have to reduce the training volume or rest or a few days. Alternatively do some active recreation, including aerobic endurance training, stretching exercises and gentle fitness exercises.
    • Eat light.Consuming hard digestible foods may also be a cause of fatigue. Eat light and energy-rich foods such as fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, light cereals, vegetable fats and, very important, drink a lot of water. Eat small portions or snacks and donīt eat anything for 1-2 hours before training. After training you have to take in adequate amounts of carbohydrates and protein for an adequate recovery.

Work and Stress

The best and most effective antidote to stress is physical activity. It brings body and mind back in balance, increases metabolism and oxygen supply and stimulates creativity, effectiveness and self-confidence. The challenge is to unify work, everyday life and exercise under one roof.
  • Effective time management. If possible, you should train either directly before or after work. Once you get home and on the couch, it is very hard to get out of it again. As mentioned, schedule your training times as a kind of important meeting with yourself, which must not be disturbed by anyone.
  • Exercising before work provides many benefits. Get up an hour earlier to go for a run or to the gym before you can even think about ridiculous excuses such as bad weather or darkness. Your training or running-clothes should already be ready, which increases own motivation and provides some extra time. After training, as the rest of the world begins to wake up, you already accomplished your first challenges, you are lively, balanced and motivated and you can fill the rest of the day with work and leisure.
  • Train during working breaks. Many companies today have very flexible working hours policies, some even have their own fitness area. Take training clothes with you and work out while your colleagues consume greasy cafeteria food or have a cigarette break. You can go for a short run or a training session at the gym. A tight walk is another great workout; it even saves the otherwise necessary time for showering and changing clothes.
  • Evening workout. Most people train in the evening. As mentioned, this should happen right after work to not let the body rest until you worked out.


Often the closest relatives keep us from training. It does not happen in bad faith. It is their lack of training experience, and thus the understanding of such activities. Now communication become important.
  • Avoid misunderstandings. Announce timing and duration of your training, if possible, bring it into line with family responsibilities.
  • Share your goals. To clarify the importance of your training, you have to share your own goals with your family. Not all of them will meet sympathy, but the familyīs willingness to support you will increase.

Holiday and Travel

During vacations or business trips, it is almost impossible to follow the usual training routine. Here are some tips for an active yet relaxing holiday.
  • Available training opportunities. Inform beforehand about training possibilities at the destination. Book hotels with its own fitness club, pool, etc., or ask for a gym in the area.
  • Bodyweight and free exercises. Maybe take some small weights, elastic bands or a skipping rope with you. In any case, you should know a few basic bodyweight exercises that you can do almost anytime and anywhere.
  • Be curious. Explore the new environment while running or cycling.
  • Be creative. The stairwells of large hotels are the ideal training area for a tough cardiovascular training, independent of darkness, weather or local knowledge.


There is no bad weather, only the wrong clothes or the wrong attitude. It is virtually impossible to become a good athlete in a comfortable way.
  • Use functional clothing while running or cycling. Depending on the weather proper shoes, pants, underwear, hats, gloves or sunglasses are essential companions.
  • Bypass extreme weather like heat, cold or rain bypassed with an adequate indoor workout.
  • Accept bad weather as an exciting challenge, as a struggle against the forces of nature.
  • The body adjusts to unusual weather conditions of other climatic zones and is able to perform at comparable level as at home after a few days.

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tags:   motivation  |   training  |   time management  |   stress  |

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