What is your motivation for training? Wait. Before you answer, let us entertain a thought.

Often, our initial answer is more for the person asking than it is for ourselves. With the exception of psychopaths and people who don’t like pineapple on their pizza, we’re wired to connect with the person asking the question.

And one of the quickest ways to connect is by loading up our mouth revolver with a pleasing bullet before firing it in the appropriate direction. Maybe our answer is what we think the other person wants to hear. Or maybe we simply want to give a pleasing answer to avoid further interrogation.

Then, to complicate things further, our surroundings distort our thoughts on what we consider right and wrong answers. The culture, the circle we hangout with, even our upbringing, all affect our reasoning.

Taking all that aboard, your off-the-shelf answer for training motivation might be “to age with vigor”, “to set an active example for my kids”, “to do more challenging hikes with my friends”, “to open up a jar of artichokes without first having to pop the air out of the jar and then get a towel to remove the moisture from my hands because goddamit is it too much to ask to enjoy artichokes without performing circus tricks”.

All socially acceptable answers. But if the answer you gave (to yourself or the person asking) isn’t your genuine motivation, you’ll have an uphill battle with motivation ahead of you.

So, how does one know they’ve unearthed their real motivation for training?

Your genuine motivation will feel visceral.

Even if it’s not socially acceptable. It might bring tears to your eyes. You might feel uncomfortable about sharing the truth in public. For now, though, you’re only writing these answers for yourself.

Dare to go deep. I mean it. Aim for how-did-I-get-here-and-which-way-is-up deep.

What you might find is that as much as you want to age gracefully, inspire your kids, hike more, or eat stress-free artichokes, your true motivation might be more superficial.

To look hot naked so your partner would want you. Or maybe you’re single and want to impress your potential soulmate. Maybe, after all your pondering, you just really want to eat artichokes. While standing naked in front of a full body mirror. You get the idea.

I am not saying that you need to look fit, strong, and lean for any of those.

We come in all shapes and sizes. What I am saying is that if it’s the superficial goal that gives you the drive to show up for training, then it’s ok to embrace that superficial goal.

For myself, longevity, keeping up with our kids and being physically capable of opening random jars at will is insanely important. But I’d be lying through my teeth saying that I don’t care about how I look. I want to take off my shirt and feel good about what I see. And the way I like to look is fit, strong and relatively lean. As for my calves though, I’ve given up.

Anyhow, my training motivation is about balancing longevity with more superficial goals. That’s why I train.

Even if our goals sound superficial, reaching them has a positive carry over to the rest of our lives.

Provided we’re not complete jackasses about it. If our motivation for high and mighty, socially acceptable goals doesn’t carry us to our goals, we really have no other option than to embrace the superficial side.

It’s your life. And as long as your motivation isn’t illegal, don’t let anyone tell you what your reason for training should be.

– J

ps. The idea for this post was shamelessly lifted from Bryan Krahn‘s free Physique Mastery course. It’s outstanding. You should probably sign up.