The rush you experience after a truly great workout can be amazing. The endorphin boost, sense of accomplishment, and equal parts of exhaustion and enthusiasm are highlights of a fantastic session. And yet, actually getting to said workout and subsequently giving it your all can be surprisingly challenging — at times, dreadful, even. It turns out, motivation is pretty critical when it comes to getting a good sweat.
While it might seem like professional athletes have it all together when it comes to staying physically active, in reality, that’s not the case. They, too, seek ways to stay motivated and accomplish their health and fitness goals. And luckily for you, they’re willing to share their experiences and advice.
From the NHL’s P.K. Subban to the NFL’s Luke Willson and more, we checked in with some of the top guys in sports to get their take on workout motivation and how to push yourself to the next level.
RELATED: Tricks to Improve Workout Motivation
Maintaining a career is a major motivator for most professional athletes to stay active and healthy. While you might think the paycheck incentive to get fit doesn’t apply to your life — after all, how many of us are going to make as much as a pro athlete? — it should. In fact, a number of studies have shown that physical fitness helps to improve job performance. From reducing stress to bettering concentration, you should look at that morning run as a step toward that promotion you’ve been after.
“As an NHL player, my career keeps me motivated every day. It’s important to take care of my body as I look long-term not only in my career, but in my life.”
In order to accomplish his fitness goals, Subban focuses on his overall health to ensure his body is strong and capable for the long run. “Whether it’s eating healthy, training properly, or prioritizing my post-training recovery, I want to be able to perform at the top of my game and have longevity in my sport,” the Nashville Predator’s All-Star defenseman explains. “Think long-term when it comes to your training and your health – visualize what your goals are and use that to motivate yourself today.”
“It’s easy for me to stay motivated to be fit because it’s such a huge part of my job, but beyond that I really enjoy it. There is always something more you can do when it comes to your fitness, whether that’s building strength or working on your speed and mobility,” says the NFL Detroit Lions’ tight end. “It’s a great challenge. Above all, the more fit I feel, the better my overall mood and energy is.”
To those who are feeling unmotivated to get active, Willson recommends avoiding the fads and sticking to what’s tried and true for you. “My advice to those looking to level up their fitness is to be boring but consistent with your training,” he advises. “A lot of times, people are looking for a new fad or new training ideas, but the reality is you can’t cheat the game. Being consistent but ‘boring’ in your routine will often lead to great results that are also more sustainable over time.”
For the NFL Carolina Panthers offensive tackle, fitness motivation is not only tied to his career, but what will follow. “I think about both now and the future,” he says. “Staying fit now allows my body to adapt to the physical pounding of football, but also prepares me for a healthy lifestyle after my football career is over.”
When it comes to avoiding burnout from too many health and fitness restrictions, Newhouse recommends maintaining a balance. “Enjoy life! The 80/20 rule is a good place to start,” he says. “Less dieting and more moderation where you are eating wholesome foods, in good proportion 80 percent of the time. And then you enjoy yourself in moderation 20 percent of the time. This allows you to not feel like you’re depriving yourself, which often leads to binging.”
Setting goals and maintaining a routine are important elements for fitness motivation. Whether you’re aiming to run in a 5K charity race in three months or you want to get to a higher weight on the bench press in two weeks, create a timeline for your goals and aim to be consistent. Once you start consistently working on attaining your goal, it should become second nature, and the procrastination instinct should start to dwindle.
We’ve all heard the expression “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” When it comes to fitness motivation, Perez, who is the quarterback for the Birmingham Iron, agrees wholeheartedly. “People often say they want to get fit and be active and want to see instant results,” he says. “It’s not a sprint but a marathon. Being consistent is the key to success in all aspects in life, not just fitness.”
“Motivation comes from within. Set a goal for yourself: daily, weekly, monthly, and understand that it’s a process,” advises the Orlando Apollos safety. “Keeping your [fitness] goals in mind and being fully committed to the process will keep you motivated with guaranteed results.”
Evans, too, understands that there are days where you’ll feel like the last thing you want to do is work out. For that, he advises keeping mementos of your progress on-hand as a reminder of where you started. “Take pictures and track your measurements often so you can see your progression,” he suggests. “Continue to challenge yourself daily and dig even deeper on days you are fatigued. When you feel like you want to give up and quit refer back to your photos and measurements and remind yourself of why you started.”
While setting goals is important, they should be based on your own capabilities and not someone else’s. Comparing yourself to others and trying to meet unrealistic expectations will only hinder your motivation.
“All you can control in any sport is your performance. Paying attention to what anyone else is doing in training or competition will only take you outside of yourself and compromise your workouts, races, and games” the former Olympic rower points out. “Be within yourself at all times. Work hard every day, do the best you possibly can, and regardless of the result, put it away, then get up the next day and keep moving forward. Don’t live and die by your results. Work toward consistency from day to day, week to week, and month to month. Good, bad, or indifferent results on any given day, any given workout, any race or any game … just keep pressing forward. Be a student of your craft, and work hard to refine your skills.”
Shift of Perspective
Another way to maintain your motivation to stay active is to shift your perspective. Instead of dreading your workout, get excited for that time to work on yourself.
The former NFL Super Bowl XLVI champion notes that a shift in perspective and a positive outlook will also help in making fitness more of a priority in your life. By focusing on that final feeling of accomplishment, the tough part will become more satisfying, too.
“Fitness is a way of life, it’s a decision to put your needs before your wants. In so many aspects of our lives, we take care of the necessities without question. Most people work because they have to take care of bills, family, etc. At some point, we hope that turns into something we’re passionate about,” he says. “For most people, fitness is a grind. Motivation is lacking, but all of the incentives are present. If we would approach fitness like we do other aspects of our lives, eventually our needs will turn into wants and in turn, passion. Trust the process and love the results more than you hate the process.”
Whether it’s keeping your career pursuits at top of mind or attempting to change your perspective, there are a number of ways to motivate yourself to improve your health and fitness. Say goodbye to the procrastinating devil on your shoulder, grab your sneakers, and get a move on with these athlete’s tips to guide you.
You Might Also Dig: