It often happens that people experience a surge of motivation, which is great, but some may naturally use it all up within a few weeks of training because they did too much in too short a time. Ultimately, this leads to no long-term results.

But if you use your motivation sparingly and wisely, you can dose it out at just the right pace in order for it to be used at the same rate it’s coming in. Theoretically, allowing you to be motivated all year round.

Similar to money, motivation can be spent quickly, leaving you in tricky situations. If you spend money faster than the rate of it coming in, soon enough you will be left with nothing.

So, how it is it possible to use motivation wisely and space it out? And what does that look like?

One of the first great lessons I learnt when it came to training was to avoid training sessions where I left the gym crawling out. But rather, leave at the point where you want more, you are getting into the workout and feeling great, and that’s when you stop… with no regret. It is difficult for many to do, which is understandable, you’re stopping at the emotional and physical peak of your workout.

For you to stop while still wanting more would require your regime to be limited to a certain amount of time. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work hard, but there is a thin line in every workout that once crossed, you are in the realm of overtraining (Overtraining: mental and/or physical burnout). But if you finish too far before you get to this line, you end up doing too little. So this is not an excuse for an ineffective workout. Over time, you develop the ability to know when you have reached this ‘thin line’. Knowing when you are on it is the wisdom of knowing when to stop, and why.

Some may confuse this thin line with reaching exhaustion. If you’re sticking to a plan and have another 20 minutes to go until you finish it, but at this point, you want to leave and feel exhausted, do you do so? Absolutely not. Because then we become spoiled and leave whenever we feel like it. There is a difference between exhaustion and overtraining.

Motivation Is Like Money

Therefore, your regime needs to last the right amount of time to avoid overtraining. Using the analogy of money again, would you book a holiday for 4 weeks, when you can only afford two weeks? Of course not. Similarly, regimes should not last longer than your motivation enables you. At the same time, I’m not saying that you should stop 10 minutes into your workout because you’re not in the mood anymore, it’s at this point where you use your discipline to carry you to the end. Your motivation and your discipline complement each other. For your workouts to be sustainable, the regime needs to be the right length for the average amount of motivation you have as an individual. And this might just actually be turning up to the park or the gym to start with.

Personally, I find the average time of my regime to be around 35 minutes. At that point I feel great, I feel strong and if I finish then, I know I’m going to finish wanting a little bit more, which is exactly where I want to stop. This works for me and I train 5-6 times a week. However, if I were working out 3 times a week, I would want a regime that is longer than 35 minutes. So you need to make that decision on how often you are going to train and what is your realistic session length.

Bank Your Motivation

Often when people all of a sudden get a lump sum of money after having very little for a while what do they typically do? They spend it all. So if you have a surge of motivation, use it wisely. It is often our own ego and pride that helps us ‘spend’ our motivation quicker than we should. We say things to ourselves like ‘I need to do this while I have the motivation’ as if to say we need to use it till it’s dried up. We tell ourselves things that are not really true, such as ‘unless I do this every day I won’t do it anymore’. And this most commonly happens during January. There is a horrible ethic in gyms stating that you need to work until your limbs fall off otherwise there is no point. Think of the tortoise vs the hair, are you in this for the long run or are you in this for the season?

Training with an impatient mindset makes you impatient. But training in a patient way makes you patient. I don’t always think training to fast music such as dance or rock may be the best music to listen to for everyone. It puts you on a high during your workout to go harder and faster encouraging you to break yourself (I’m not actually against this but there are other ways of doing it). I often prefer slow controlled music that better reflects the way I train and why I train.

I write articles such as this one because I want to address a different perspective to an incredibly confused and contradictory topic, that being, how to stay in shape. What I talk about is my point of view. It’s my attempt to shine a light on things within your health that may be holding you back. And this particular example is for the sake of longevity, so training or movement becomes a lifelong habit.

“Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it”