Unlike figure skating and gymnastics, in which the athletes typically hit their competitive prime between the ages of 15 and 20, in
bodybuilding we have the ability to improve on size, strength and cuts well into our 30's, 40's, even 5O's. Physically there's no
reason why you can't keep getting better through middle age. What stops most bodybuilders is lack of motivation.
Let's face it - the same sport that we all found so exciting and intriguing when we started can get boring after a while. Training
may seem monotonous, even a downright chore. Eating the requisite six to eight meals a day can also get old. You might not be able
to remember the last time you gained any size or strength. In short, you have lost your motivation. Here are some ways to get it back:
Change the way you train.
If training isn't fun any more, then completely overhaul the way in which you train. If you've been using mostly free weights, try
an all-machine workout. If you've used only barbells, give dumbbells a try for a few weeks. Try supers low, heavy-duty or hardgainer
routines. Try every-other-day training, a new split. There are so many combinations of exercises, so many different pieces of
equipment, and so many different training ideas, that you never need to get bored. Don't be afraid to change your training - especially
if it's getting you nowhere. Besides getting your motivation back, the new stimulus will make you grow as well.
Take a break
If you've been plugging away with the weights nonstop for years, for God's sake take a break! Your body and mind will do better after
a break. If you want to stay active, try something you always wanted to do but were afraid would interfere with your training - white-
water rafting, martial arts, rock climbing or sky diving. Even trips to amusement parks can refresh your mind. As for your diet, why
not eat what you want for a week? A week of chocolate, ice cream, cookies and fries might put a few pounds of fat on you, hut if you've
been eating super-strict for a very long time, you certainly deserve this gluttony. Soon you should feel a desire to hit the weights and
get back on a clean diet. Half the battle of staying on a strict training and diet regimen for years is knowing that you have to. If
you give yourself one-week "breaks" a coup]e of times a year, you won't feel as though you are missing out on anything.
Specialize on an exercise or bodypart.
With the vague general goal of "getting bigger" or "getting stronger," it's easy to get lazy. You don't have a clear-cut identifiable
goal that can be reached anytime soon. However, what about this? Suppose your squat is currently 405 for five reps. If you were to give
yourself a time frame, say eight weeks, and a clear goal, such as bringing your squat to 465 pounds for five reps in that time frame,
wouldn't that add a little drama to your routine? Sure it would. Or, if you're unhappy with the size of your arms, why not take a month
and specialize on them, working them first and giving them super strict form and high intensity to add another half-inch? Short-term
goals like this are perfect for sparking your motivation and giving you something solid to aim for.
Compete in a contest
Taking that idea to a higher level, why not pick a contest to compete in? If you have ever been around a bodybuilder preparing for
a contest, you know that the training for such an event takes on the significance of a holy mission. When you know that you'll soon
be standing there in your little posing briefs up against a whole slew of other people, all of whom are busy training their butts of
your intensity shoots into the stratosphere. Even though you're dieting and doing cardio, your energy and enthusiasm are often much
higher precontest than in off-season training. No workout is dreaded. Instead, it is considered one of a very few last chances to
improve your physique for the big show.
Try a new supplement.
Do supplements work? Yes. Are they responsible for all the gains their users often experience after starting out on them? I doubt it.
It's the old placebo effect. However, why not put that effect to good use? If you go out and buy the latest supplement that everyone is
raving about and whose ads dominate the magazines, you're going to train harder. You're going to look forward to every time you can go
to the gym and blast those weights, knowing that the supplement is giving you an added edge in muscle growth. People on steroids often
train harder than nonusers for this very reason. So long as you grow, there's nothing wrong with a placebo effect!
Get some new workout clothes.
This may sound silly, but if you've ever bought the ultimate sweatshirt or tights and couldn't wait to wear them to the gym, you know
how powerful a motivational force new clothes can be. The same goes for new belt, gloves or straps. Anything new ill get you excited about
Go to a contest or a meet.
Competing all the time is unfeasible and for some people competing itself may be too intimidating. In both cases the right thing to do
is to check out a bodybuilding contest or a powerlifting meet. The freakish, super- development of today's bodybuilders and the brute
strength of competitive power- lifters are both highly inspirational. To see what these people have accomplished should have you running
back to the gym for a turbo-charged training session that leaves you sore for a week.
Anytime you harbor doubts of why it is you do this thing called bodybuilding, whip out the old photos of yourself. There, theft why!
Compare a picture of yourself before you started training to a shot that shows you at your muscular zenith. There should be a huge difference.
Pat yourself on the back for what you've accomplished so far - and then get back to the gym and improve on it!
These are just a few suggestions to help get you out of the doldrums and back into bodybuilding's version of fifth gear. Loss of motivation
is perfectly natural from time to time, but it's a place you don't want to stay for too long. Get motivated, and blast that physique of
yours to the next level!