The Strength Sensei on Motivation

The Strength Sensei on Motivation


Practical advice on staying on track with your training


One hot topic in health education is “exercise adherence,” which refers to finding ways to get people to stick to an exercise program. While Internet fitness influencers debate about which style of lunge will build a better booty, cardiologists and other healthcare professionals are more interested in finding ways to get their patients to commit to at least walking around the block a few times a week.

Motivation is rarely an issue with professional athletes – if they don’t train, they don’t get paid. To help them along are the entourages of strength coaches, personal trainers, and sports coaches dedicated to motivating their athletes to show up, train hard, and, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, “Get-R-Done!”

While Charles R. Poliquin was in high demand by professional and Olympic athletes for training advice, many of his clients included successful executives in high-stress jobs and women taking on the challenge of being a new mom. Often, these individuals found that life got in the way, and it became hard to stay motivated to hit the gym. For this reason, nearly 20 years ago, the Strength Sensei shared some created ideas to stay motivated so you can train harder and longer. Here are four of them:


First, the Strength Sensei believed that you should believe in your program. The Strength Sensei has written extensively about his favorite programs, including Cluster Training, German Volume Training, German Body Comp, and the Patient Lifter’s Program. He said that whatever program you decide to try, see it through. If you go into a workout program with doubts about its effectiveness, you set yourself on the road to failure.

Of course, the Strength Sensei recognized that there are often bumps in the road to success. If you are halfway through a three-month program and have a week where you hit a slump, don’t worry – stay the course and keep the faith!

Second, if you feel you need a break, take one! Give yourself a “playday” in which you take a break from your usual routine. For example, allow yourself a burger and fries once a week and don’t feel guilty about it.

One way to stay motivated is to give yourself a “playday” in which you take a break from your normal routine. Here the Strength Sensei spends his playday relaxing with one of his favorite animals.


Third, the Strength Sensei believed trainees often lose motivation because they get bored from staying on the same program for too long. As a general guideline, he said that if you have been following a program and have reached a training slump after a few weeks, change one or more of the loading parameters. For example, do more or fewer sets or reps, use different training tempos, and try new exercises. As a general rule, the Strength Sensei would change at least one loading parameter every two weeks with all but beginner-level clients.

Fourth, the Strength Sensei was a big believer in taking before-and-after photos. Place the photos where you must see them daily, such as on a refrigerator. Place them where you can see them to remind you of why you are working so hard in the first place. These photos will also provide motivation by reminding you of what you will look like if you stop training.

As a bonus tip, the Strength Sensei says that often, things go differently than planned. You can train hard and train smart, and still, you may not make the gains you expected in the time frame you set for yourself. Such is the nature of training, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Progress will come, you will get better, and the results will be worth it! (TSS)

– Lead photo by Miloš Šarčev

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