Four Ways To Motivate Athletes in the Gym! – Garage Strength

Four Ways To Motivate Athletes in the Gym!

4 Tips to Motivate Athletes in the Gym

Lifting schedules have been established, you are two weeks into training and you are already reviewing your roster wondering why so many athletes struggle with off-season commitment. Do you they know the impact lifting will have on their speed, power, and agility? How about game scenarios, isn't that HARD!?!?! All of these thoughts are popping in and out of your brain while you are contemplating the effectiveness of your goal setting and even coaching! 

1. Establish a SIMPLE Structure

I truly believe that many individuals get stuck regarding their own personal progression because we struggle tremendously to just find motivation. We sit back and wonder what life would be like on the other side but we rarely take that and turn it into action.

At some point, the structure will actually ignite internal motivation! Let’s play this simple game. You go to work and have NO CLUE what you will be doing at work. You get behind the desk, you goof around on the internet for a while, you answer 67 emails that don’t need to be answered and before you know it, you are 2.5 hours into your workday and you haven’t done a single thing. 

Now, let’s play the opposite game. The night before work, you sit down and go over your daily planner. You establish what work needs to be done in the morning and you invest some brainpower into your next day. It might only be 10 minutes of effort but that 10 minutes can do wonders to set a schedule in place. You arrive at work and now you know EXACTLY what needs to be accomplished. You smash through your work for the first 2-hour block simply because you had a semblance of structure. It didn’t take much but it was enough to get the ball rolling! 

This applies directly to motivating athletes inside the gym! Have a plan and know the purpose for the training session. Clearly communicating expectations when athletes arrive will prevent athletes from spending the majority of the training session meandering around high-fiving a few of their friends and then going for a few meathead lifts that rarely translates to athlete progress.

Sound familiar? Check out the 2023 Strength Summit to for more applications of your programming knowledge and learn how to be successful your unique athlete groups. 

2. Set Reasonable Goals

Nothing saddens me as much as a coach as watching athletes of mine make absurdly difficult goals and then failing to achieve those goals. Often times individuals will bite off WAY more than they can handle.

This happens often in Olympic weightlifting.

“I want to clean 120k today.” 

Me: “But, your best clean is only 112k.”

Two hours later, the athlete is fuming and pissed that they didn’t hit that 120k clean. Sure it’s possible to hit a big lift like that but in an ideal situation, having a goal of maybe 114k would be more reasonable. By making goals more reasonable and achievable, we remain more motivated and fueled by our success along the way!

3.  Use social media….YES, I said it!

Go ahead, make fun of me all you want but social media can be a very effective tool for training and gym motivation. Yes, there is 100% a fine line between using social media and going WAY overboard, but it is still an effective means of motivation.

When I was in college, my training partners and I always talked about recording our lifting sessions. We imagined a time when we could film all of our lifts and look at our progress and enjoy watching our training. Then this crazy platform started in 2005.

That platform? YOUTUBE! We went HAM on Youtube. Posting regularly and loving it, posting it in groups and trying to find feedback from other athletes. That’s a great part of social media. You can track your progress, get positive feedback and hold yourself accountable in an external method!

Me (Dane Miller), 15 years ago!

4.  Establish an incentive.

After setting very reasonable goals, try to focus on a long term incentive. Something that many of us forget to do is to celebrate our victories! By creating an incentive and acknowledging our hard work, we know there is a celebration at the end.

I had the goal of deadlifting 300 kilos. A strange goal but once incentive I created went like this: “If I deadlifting 300 kilos, I will get my family Indian food that night for dinner.”

Clearly, I LOVE Indian food and so does my family, so this was a very enticing incentive. It wouldn’t break the bank, but it would be a nice gesture to celebrate with my wife and children. I would get a massive bowl of Lamb Tikka, my wife wouldn’t have to make dinner and the kids could have Mango Lassi smoothies for dessert. 

For your athletes this might be something like bringing in ice cream sandwiches, or meeting up with them to race go-carts. Anything that is going to keep them coming, and growing as athletes and as a team. It doesn't have to be anthing absurd or expensive. It just needs to be a high enough magnitude to actually contribute to motivating them internally. Establishing a means of celebration is a small incentive to hold athletes accountable for doing the hard work and reaping the benefits.

Don't forget to sign up for the Strength Summit this June 2-3!


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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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