The Right Key

Instead of looking at certain exercises as being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it would be better to look at them as either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Like a piano, there is no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ note, but rather the wrong choice of a certain note at a given time. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. It is the same with the exercises you do, which is dependant on your current ability.

Eye on the Ball

So your reason for exercising is to look better? Okay. It would now be wise to find another reason to exercise, one that has good looks ‘built-in’. It is as if you wanted to go to space. The rocket and the intricate operating of the rocket should then become the main concern, while the thought of space encourages you.

The reason for this varies from person to person, but here is an example. If you are largely overweight and decide to do something about it, one thing you are likely to do is taking up exercise. Now from the moment you start, to the moment you reach your desired look, is too long a period to be motivated to do it now. Therefore, you need another reason to do it now, a reason that gets you through today. So now would be a good time for a small mind-shift.

Inside Out

I believe it is better to think internally with an exercise. Doing it for an internal reason such as strengthening your joints, releasing endorphins, improving in a particular exercise, whether it is doing more repetitions, lifting a heavier weight, or improving technique. It comes back to what I learned from a fellow trainer a few years ago “train from the inside out, rather than the outside in”.

It is a small and practical mind-shift like if you turn the direction of a car one centimetre to the left, it would eventually end up somewhere completely different. The aesthetics will come regardless (providing, of course, that diet has also been taken care of).

Stand Alone Exercises

I see many people doing what I call ‘Stand alone exercises’. What I mean by this, is that they do their programme or routine, but there is an aimlessness to it. It is not moving forward, they are not necessarily motivated to improve in the exercises, it is staying on the one spot, it is ‘standalone’. Now there could be many reasons for this, but one reason could be that the person is not in the right frame of mind.

They love the thought of looking great, but their motivation does a ‘disappearing act’ as soon as they start their workout. But then it suddenly comes back again afterwards, and they think to themselves “I wish I had that motivation when I was actually exercising, I’ll make sure of it next time!”. Their goal is too far in the future to have motivation for it at the present moment. This is why they need an incentive to do it there and then.


Most people who exercise have long-term goals, for example, looking at how they want to look. But few people have short and mid-term goals, and without these, a long-term goal is more difficult. So I advise that if your long-term goal is a big one, set short and midterms goals also.

It may be that in order for me to progress to a certain exercise, I first need to do an exercise for a few months that I do not enjoy. But I am fine with this as it is leading to something. However, if I was to do those same exercises with no plan for the future, they would be ‘Stand alone exercises’. I would have no carrot dangling in front of me, so to speak, which makes my discipline empty of incentive. The carrot would be so far out in the distance that I could barely see it, which makes for a difficult journey.

In Tandem

So there must first be an incentive to be disciplined, otherwise, it takes too much of our own strength to stay disciplined. Being disciplined is only truly possible if you have an incentive (or motive) to be this way. And it is easier to be disciplined in something you actually want to do.

I have always said motivation gets you started, but it is discipline that keeps you going. To add to this, motivation should be there as often as possible to encourage your discipline. If you imagine a tandem bike, the cyclist in front represents discipline and the cyclist at the back represents motivation. Discipline is there to steer and lead the way while motivation is there to encourage discipline. All awhile, they are both peddling. If motivation runs outs, discipline should be able to continue (though it will be a great deal harder). So it is preferable, that both are participating equally.

The Right Foundation

Discipline feeds off motivation and motivation feeds off things such as the following:

1. Straw:
Pride, cultural ideals, trends, egotism (all of which divide into big subcategories). All rocky foundations.

2. Sticks:
Films, media, social media sites, magazines, music, this article, new year, fun. For the average person, to get in shape and stay this way is not always going to be fun, if you think otherwise you might also think that having spoonfuls of sugar tastes nice. It is not realistic. Exercise should, however, be enjoyed as often as possible.

But arguably, all these are fine but should be taken with a pinch of salt. What I write could be a source of inspiration to you, but only the same way that an appetiser comes before the main course. Which is…

3. Bricks:
Setting athletic goals such as being stronger, faster, training for a marathon, or running a five-minute mile (all of which can be broken down into tiny goals). Doing it for escapism, stress relief, to fight off depression, to defend against diseases, to just physically feel better every moment, and so on. All of which improve the quality of a persons life.

The Man That Built His House on Rock…..or Sand
I would say that if you exercise because you want to look better, this could be in either of the three, it depends on what is driving the motive, as there is another layer beneath this. Nobody wanted to look better just for the sake of it, there is always another reason.

Motivation itself as a single unit is a good thing. It is the way we get motivated that can be either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Like money, power, respect. All good things in themselves, but quite often, the way people pursue them is perverted. If you are motivated to get in shape solely because of things I have listed in point 1, then I would question this.

So it is preferable for you to be regularly motivated, and a way of doing this is by having motives that you have more control over. Some may think this is more for the concern of professional athletes. But this applies to all of us who train and need to train, no matter the age or ability, though I am not of the opinion that everyone needs to train. But I would say, you have a body, so respect it.

Take care ?

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”-