Skip to content

Is Motivation Alone Enough to Reach Your Fitness Goals?

A motivated man ready for a run

Is Motivation Alone Enough to Reach Your Fitness Goals?

Most people that we have known start their fitness journey due to a burst of motivation fired up by a new year resolution or watching/reading about a transformation or idolising their favourite celebrities or just because they are unhappy the way they currently look. This is followed by ambitious goal setting which are tied to desired outcome/outcomes.

But unfortunately, often these journeys are often short lived. Have you wondered why?

Its because these journeys are often driven by extrinsic motivation. Before, we take a deep dive into explaining why extrinsic motivation efforts fail. Let's understand the two different types of motivation.

Different types of motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to know refers to engaging in an activity for the pleasure and satisfaction that one experiences while learning, exploring, or trying to understand something new1.

Extrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity as a means to an end and not for its own sake. In other words, individuals may choose to perform an activity, even though they do not do it for pleasure. For example, if someone says "I am going to gym to vent my anger" or "if i don't to go to practice today, then i wont make it to the team selection" its a kind of extrinsic motivation. This is a kind of behaviours that is regulated through external means, such as rewards and constraints1.

I know it’s not rocket science but let me use rocket as an analogy to explain the role of motivation in fitness. A rocket use thruster to provide additional boost for the rocket to lift off from earth. However, these thrusters are burnt off and separated from the main spacecraft. To reach the final destination i.e orbit it is the main engine that powers the rocket. So, think of extrinsic motivation as these thrusters which gives the initial boost to start your fitness activity. But without the spacecraft’s engine (think intrinsic motivation) the spacecraft will never reach its final destination.

Fitness goals driven by extrinsic motivation such as getting selected in a team, losing "x" amount of weight at the end of a fitness program, may work in a short term. However, for a long term consistent fitness journey, we need to find out some things that we do because we like what we do. That is called intrinsic motivation.

It gives you a meaning, purpose and intention on your daily fitness activities. When you combine this with habits, it results in long term consistent action. The ultimate outcome such as fat loss, muscle gain, flexibility development are merely a bi-product of your long term fitness goals.

Read this related article to know how to get started in fitness and sustain it over long term?