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Stay Motivated to Work Out

(Last Updated On: July 6, 2021)

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Tips for Staying Motivated

Do you struggle to find motivation to workout every day? Do you have trouble sticking to your workout plans and programs for more than a month? Do you wonder why it’s so hard to get up in the morning and exercise?

workout motivationIf you’ve found yourself lacking long-term motivation to achieve your fitness goals, you’re not alone. Staying motivated is a human struggle that we all face. Our natural state is a resting, lazy state – that’s where our body is most comfortable. Getting out of that natural state, exercising, eating healthy – that’s exactly what we need to do to be healthy – but not at all what our lazy natural self wants to do.

To help you stay motivated to work out, here’s some tips from arguably one of the most motivated figures in sports – Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bodybuilding champion, successful businessman, Hollywood actor and politician, Schwarzenegger, in his own words, is a “disciplined super-achiever” who sets and achieves goals, over and over again. (1)

Building Muscles and Building Your Mind

One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first mentors used to tell him, “You have to build the ultimate physical machine but also the ultimate mind” (1). Fitness isn’t just about your physical body. If you want to achieve your fitness goals, your waistline isn’t the only thing you need to work on changing – your mind should also be a top priority.

Your mind can do incredible things – if you train it to do them. It can push your body to do more than you thought possible, to go that extra mile, to do one more set, to keep going, even when your body is physically tired. A strong mind is key to success in life and in fitness. Building your mind isn’t easy, and like building muscles, it takes time.

The Psychology of Motivation

So, what really is motivation then? Is it just having a strong mind and being willing to do things you don’t want to do? Or is it more?

According to a recent article in VeryWellMind, motivation is defined as “the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors…it’s what causes you to act.” (2) You could say that motivation is why someone does something, it’s the why that makes them take action.

Why do you work out? Basically, there’s two types of motivation – intrinsic motivations (internal) and extrinsic motivations (external). Extrinsic motivations often involve rewards, for example, I work out to have a six-pack, I work out because I want to win the race, I work out because my friends count on me to go biking with them, etc. Intrinsic motivations come from within, and might be things like, I work out because I enjoy running, because I feel good when I work out, etc. 

What Is Your Why?

Your “why” – the reason behind why you work out, or do anything in life – is very important to staying motivated. When your why is something that you really, truly want for yourself and for your life, it will be much easier to take steps to achieve your goals.

motivationArnold Schwarzenegger wanted to get out of his small town in Austria and come to America. In his book, he says that he discovered that the way to get to America was through bodybuilding. He knew what he wanted and he knew how to get what he wanted. His why (going to America) was what he wanted more than anything else.

Finding a why that connects to a bigger life purpose is what helped Schwarzenegger to become the best bodybuilder in the world, win Mr. Universe, and go on to achieve success in real estate, politics, and in Hollywood.

So, what can your why be? Maybe you want to work out every day to lose weight and be able to run around with your kids again without getting tired. Maybe you want to set goals to finally achieve your life-long dream of doing an Iron Man. Maybe you want to train to run in a race that helps a good cause that you support.

The possibilities are endless. But finding your why will help you to stay more motivated to workout, and it will help you to create a vision for your fitness goals and your life.

What is Your Refined Vision?

Once Schwarzenegger knew what his why was and what his goals were – he wanted to be Mr. Universe, break records in power lifting and go to Hollywood – he then created a specific and refined vision. He says, “the vision became so clear in my mind that I felt like it had to happen.”

He became obsessed with his dream of becoming a bodybuilder, and as a result, spent hours and hours in the gym. He knew what he wanted, and he saw his future self achieving those goals.

To create a vision for yourself, you need to dream of where you want to be in the future (1 year, 5 years, and 10 years from now), and you need to believe that you will be where you envisioned. This can’t just be a one-time exercise; it needs to be every day. Having a clear and specific personal vision of what you want will empower you to do whatever it takes to make those goals happen.

More Motivation Tips from The Greatest Bodybuilder of All Time

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Once you have your vision and your why, you’re off to a great start. For some extra motivation to achieve your goals, Schwarzenegger also suggests writing down your goals. For every workout, Schwarzenegger would write down on the wall how many reps and sets he would do for each exercise, with a dash representing each set he would do. As he finished a set, he would go to the wall and cross it off, making an X for every completed set. And he wouldn’t stop till every set was done.

There are not shortcuts to success, and as Schwarzenegger would say, it’s all just “reps, reps, reps.” Change takes courage, effort, and hard work, but with a vision for your future you, and knowing what you want to accomplish, you’ll have the motivation to stick with your goals and achieve your dreams.


1 Schwarzenegger, Arnold. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.

2 What Is Motivation?

3 How To Stay Motivated To Work Out

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