Motivation vs. Discipline: Which Do You Need for the Gym?

Motivation vs. Discipline: Which Do You Need for the Gym?

Everyone at one point in time has suffered from a lack of motivation to work out. There are just some days when you wake up and lack the motivation to get your workout in. While that is okay every now and then, the question that still rises is: is it a lack of motivation or a lack of self-discipline? 

In this article, we will discuss the differences between motivation and self-discipline. We will also dive into why it is important in the fitness industry and tips on how to stay both motivated and disciplined in the gym. 


Motivation vs. Discipline 

Let’s talk about motivation. Motivation isn't constant. Motivation, essentially, is one's desire or willingness to do something. Your motivation can change from day to day making it hard to maintain and achieve your goals in the gym. 

Since no action is required, we have little control over how or when we get motivated to take action. So when you are feeling motivated, run with it! when your motivation is high. However, in those moments when it inevitably, but momentarily, slips away, leaning into developing discipline around your routines can assure their long-term success.

Discipline is your ability to stay focused on your goals. It enables you to stay in control of yourself. Some will describe discipline as skill; something you acquire over time and the more you practice it. Think of discipline like a muscle; the more you train it, the stronger you become. 

In essence, discipline is when you show up and do things repeatedly, and motivation is your reason why. 


Is One Better Than the Other? 

This depends on who you talk to. Some people will argue that motivation is the key to success when it comes to fitness while others say that discipline is all you need to be successful. 

Honestly, both complement each other. As stated above, motivation is your why and discipline is your skill. You won’t always be motivated to work out so that is when your self-discipline comes into play. 

On the days that you don’t feel motivated to work out, you have to be disciplined enough to get up and get your workout in regardless. Because motivation comes and goes, discipline will be the backbone to you achieving your goals. 


Tips on Staying Motivated 

Have you ever started a fitness regimen and then suddenly quit? If you answered yes, don’t worry you’re not alone. There are many people who start working out but then quit when they don’t see results right away or they get bored. 

Here are some tips from Haven to help you stay motivated. 

  • Set goals: Setting goals will help you to get motivated to start your fitness journey. Be sure to start with simple goals and then as you progress increase your goals. Your goals are easier to accomplish when they are realistic and achievable. We see individuals get discouraged when their goals are too far-fetched and ambitious starting out. 
  • Make it fun: Find something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing it, the likelihood of you sticking to it is much higher. Also, remember to switch things up. When things get boring and routine, don’t be afraid to change it up a little to keep things fun and interesting. 

  • Move your body every day: Find time to incorporate exercise into your daily routine because let’s face it, we are all busy with everyday life. It is important to remember that exercise is just as important as all the rest of our other daily activities. Your physical activity doesn’t have to be elaborate, a simple walk or home workout will suffice. 

  • Write it down: Do you have certain goals you want to reach? Write them down! Seeing your goals on paper and documenting your results/achievements may help you stay motivated. Not only does seeing your goals and achievements on paper help keep you motivated but it also helps record your efforts and tracks your progress towards your goals. 

  • Make friends: Invite friends to go to the gym with you or to work out with you. Having friends with you will help motivate you because they are able to push you and hold you accountable.

  • Treat yourself: If you look good you feel good! When setting goals, be sure to reward yourself when you meet a goal. For example, if you have a goal to lose 10 pounds, when that goal is met go buy yourself a new gym bag or a new workout outfit. 

  • Be flexible: Having a routine is key to being successful. However, you also need to be flexible. You won’t always want to work out and things come up throughout your days that hinder your workout and that’s okay. Taking a day or two off will not keep you from achieving your fitness goals. Be easy on yourself when you need a break. Take the time you need then get back on track as soon as you can. 


Tips on Establishing Discipline

Self-discipline is not something that comes naturally. It is something you can acquire. In order to have self-discipline you must learn to not allow feelings and emotions to impede your goals. 

Planning your workouts into your daily routine is one way to help you stay disciplined. When you make a schedule you are more likely to stick to it. 

Think about your job schedule, you have the discipline to go to work every day because it’s a structured commitment you made. You also show up every day at the same time for the same amount of hours knowing there are consequences if you don’t. 

Why not apply the same principles to your fitness goals? If you schedule your workouts and then remind yourself of the consequences of not working out it may help you stay more disciplined. Because if you don’t, you will see weight gain or your body composition change for the worse. 

So once you see workouts on your schedule, you feel more obligated to stick to it so you don’t have to face the consequences. 

Stay patient and know that self-discipline becomes easier. The more you follow through and learn to not let your emotions be your deciding factor, the easier it becomes. 


Key Takeaways 

Ultimately, motivation and discipline play off one another. You can’t have motivation without discipline, and it’s hard to sustain discipline without motivation. In many ways, one feeds the other on a continual basis.

At Haven Athletics, we invite you to consider your fitness goals. Just think about what motivates you and what helps you get there when things get challenging. Also keep in mind that both motivation and discipline will play a huge role in your fitness journey. For some, motivation will play a bigger role and for others, it will take discipline to workout on those days they lack the motivation. 


Fitness: Tips for staying motivated | Mayo Clinic

Want to make a change? Find your motivating 'why' | American Heart Association

Motivation vs. Discipline - Key Differences | Rushcutters Health

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