Tip: The Not-So-Pretty Truth About Gym Motivation

Here's how your personal demons can make you better.

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What Really Drives You?

Hopefully, everyone is motivated to go the gym because it's a rewarding, life-extending, life-expanding experience that makes them as happy as a unicorn on a rainbow. But if we really look at the behaviors and habits of successful people, we often find something very different: they're motivated because of some very negative thoughts.

What really drives people to succeed? Some of them may be trying to live up to the expectations of a domineering parent, even if that parent died years ago. Some may have been bullied in school, and their desire to succeed may be rooted in sticking it to those jerks from 8th grade. Others may be driven by a sense of guilt or even fear.

And when it comes to success in the gym? Well, maybe all those people with great bodies and impressive PRs are driven by negatives as well. That guy who hates the fact that he's short may have decided that he'll just be wider and stronger than every nutsack ever who teased him about his height.

That woman who thinks she's unattractive? Well, she can't change her face much but she can damn sure change her body. That drives her. And her ex can suck it.

That guy who never misses cardio? Maybe he loves it. Or maybe he hates it, but he watched a parent or sibling die too young of heart disease, and he doesn't want his kids to experience that.

And for those who've been fat in the past, there's no greater motivator than not wanting to get fat again. They've experienced the effects of being overweight: feeling bad, being socially invisible, being chosen last in sports, being humiliated taking off their shirts at the pool... And by God, they're NOT going back there!

These unpleasant feelings motivate us. They drive us. And while there's probably a better, more positive way to stay motivated, these negative motivators sure do work. They are the screeching internal alarm clocks that get us out of bed in the morning.

Put Your Demons to Work

Ideally, these ugly motivators are transitional – you use them for a while until the positive stuff becomes the primary reinforcement, until the good habits solidify, until you do it for joy. Hopefully, getting your workout becomes an act of love, a reward rather the temporary tamping down of a fear.

But if not, screw it. If there are demons riding around on your back and whispering things in your ear, squat those bastards.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram