Without motivation, there is no workout. But why is it so hard to stay motivated? You’ve got to motivate smarter, not harder. Here are some of the best supplements and strategies to help keep you motivated to work out.
If used correctly, motivation supplements can help counteract your lack of motivation to work out. They regulate brain chemicals, energy, and muscle power to keep you energized and stimulated for your workout.
Dopamine is a natural brain chemical that communicates with other brain chemicals in reaction to various circumstances. One of dopamine’s main jobs is to reward us with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction when we complete tasks or achieve goals. That’s why has the nickname “the feel-good chemical.”
How does dopamine affect motivation?
When there isn’t enough dopamine communicating with other chemicals in our bodies, we start to crave those “feel-good” feelings we’ve been missing. As such, we become motivated to act in ways that help our brain produce more dopamine.
Unfortunately, our bodies would usually rather indulge in a quick fix (like a delicious donut or a cocktail) than work hard for dopamine rewards via exercise. This can lead to a lack of focus and motivation to work out.
That’s where dopamine boosters come in. Dopamine boosters are supplements that target dopamine receptors in the brain to help us stay motivated. Different dopamine boosters target receptors in different ways. Therefore, it’s important to become familiar with how each one works before using them to help with motivation.
Vitamin B6 is Pyridoxal-5’-Phosphate (P-5-P) in its active form. P-5-P helps your brain turn its chemical L-DOPA into dopamine. In other words, if your brain is lacking dopamine, Vitamin B6 (which you can find in many leading multivitamin brands) can help you produce it.
Overall, P-5-P allows your brain to use natural chemicals in a more productive way to keep you motivated. Keep in mind that ingesting too much Vitamin B6, while rare, can cause nerve damage, stomach problems, or trouble sleeping. More on Vitamin B6 as a nootropic.
Mucuna pruriens (L-DOPA)
Mucuna pruriens is a natural supplement which people consume either as a seed extract or in powdered form. It’s the only natural source containing the brain chemical L-DOPA, its main active ingredient.
When you ingest Mucuna pruriens, you ingest more L-DOPA, which the body converts into dopamine for motivation. The more convertible chemicals you have in your brain, the more chemicals change to dopamine for motivation. Read more about Mucuna pruriens here.
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone the body naturally produces. Together, melatonin and dopamine help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, telling us when to sleep and wake. This process helps to keep us motivated in a couple of different ways.
First, dopamine release stops the chemical norepinephrine from releasing melatonin into the brain. When the melatonin stops flowing, it’s our cue to wake up and get motivated for the day. In other words, melatonin and dopamine make sure we don’t sleep the day away instead of working out.
Secondly, it’s hard to stay motivated and focused when we are not sleeping well. A melatonin supplement (such as Olympian Labs Melatonin Fast Dissolve and Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve) can help you get a good night’s sleep, making sure you have the energy to stay motivated and focused each day. Read more about Melatonin and how it affects the body here.
Do Dopamine Boosters Help Motivation?
Yes, dopamine boosters can help regulate the body’s natural chemicals to keep us motivated for exercise. However, their level of impact depends on what’s going on in your unique brain, body, and overall environment. A dopamine booster can help workout motivation, but it is not a quick fix for chronic mental health issues or adverse circumstances.
While caffeine and stimulant energy boosters are easy ways to get a quick jolt of energy, they are not sustainable paths to long-term workout motivation. Instead, this section will focus on natural energy enhancers that can help your mind and body stay motivated and energized throughout your workout every day.
CoQ10 is a brain chemical that helps the body create energy via cellular respiration. Cellular respiration is a metabolic pathway that creates chemical reactions, ultimately producing about 95% of the body’s energy.
As an energy and performance booster, ingesting a CoQ10 supplement only helps when we don’t have enough CoQ10 in the body. For example, if you are experiencing chronic fatigue, you can get a significant energy boost from a CoQ10 supplement.
In contrast, CoQ10 won’t have much of an effect on individuals who already work out regularly and don’t experience chronic fatigue. If you don’t exercise regularly, however, CoQ10 can help improve workout performance and motivate you to exercise more. Read more about CoQ10 here.
Nicknamed CDP-choline, citicoline is an energy booster with numerous positive effects on the brain. Most importantly in this case, it increases the size of the body’s energy reserves while regulating cells, brain circulation, and communication among important brain chemicals. In short, citicoline increases motivation by helping us stay energized and by regulating the firing of neurons involved in motivation and memory.
Even better, citicoline is an amazingly safe, energy-enhancing supplement with nearly zero side effects. It also made it to our Best Nootropics Supplements 2018 Edition.
Rhodiola rosea is an herbal Russian supplement which helps us maintain energy and strengthen body functions during stressful situations. It’s another one of our editor’s choices in nootropics.
Keep in mind that Rhodiola rosea only increases energy levels when the body is under some level of stress. For example, if you’re planning an intense workout, it can help relieve some of the mental and physical stress associated with completing it. As a result, you’ll maintain motivation to complete your workout without faltering.
Do Energy Boosters Help Motivation?
Yes, energy boosters help us maintain motivation by counteracting fatigue through the regulation of energy levels, by relaxing us under stress, and by making sure the body’s process of energy creation goes quickly and smoothly.
Pre Workout Supplements
Millions of people take pre-workout supplements to improve all aspects of their exercise routine. These supplements work to boost energy and enhance blood circulation to the muscles for an optimized workout. Pre-workout stimulants essentially “prime” the muscles for activity, helping us stay motivated longer while exercising.
Using caffeine as a pre-workout supplement helps motivation by improving stamina, counteracting fatigue, and even reducing mental perception of fatigue. Essentially, caffeine blocks adenosine in the body, which is a chemical that makes us tired.
Simultaneously, it increases the amount of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which causes its positive effects. You’ll get the most out of your workout if you consume it an hour before (let it sink into the bloodstream).
Of course, there are downsides to caffeine consumption. Possible side effects include anxiety, tension, heartburn, heart palpitations, and interactions with other medicines or supplements. Caffeine also increases blood pressure and can cause dependency if used in excess.
Citrulline is an amino acid and the main ingredient used in a supplement called citrulline malate. This supplement helps motivation by warding off muscle fatigue during intense workouts, replenishing the body’s main source of energy during workouts, and improving blood flow to the muscles through increased production of nitric oxide.
While the medical research community is generally confident about the positive effects of using citrulline malate as a pre-workout supplement, keep in mind there is not a ton of research on it at this time.
Creatine is an extremely popular pre-workout supplement made of organic acid naturally produced in humans and animals. It helps the body maximize space to replenish muscle energy during intense workouts.
For instance, a normal man produces anywhere from 70 g to 120 g of creatine, but there is space to fit 160 g in the body. Consuming a creatine supplement allows you to use up the remaining space to create a larger energy supply for your muscles. In other words, it’ll help keep you motivated and energized longer during high-intensity workouts.
Do Pre-Workout Supplements Help Motivation?
Yes, pre-workout supplements use various methods to help us stay motivated while working out. Some increase our muscles’ energy supply and blood circulation to fight muscle fatigue. Others stimulate internal systems and increase the production of natural chemicals to help maintain energy and motivation during workouts.
Keep in mind that stimulant-driven pre-workout supplements like caffeine can create a highly-energized and alert state that mimics motivation. As a result, caffeine-free formulas are better true motivators.
What happens if you’ve taken all the supplements you need but still can’t seem to motivate yourself? Here are some proven strategies you can pair with supplements to keep your exercise routine afloat.
Make Specific Goals…But Don’t Expect Too Much Too Fast
Studies say setting more specific goals leads to a better chance of staying motivated, but don’t go too far. It’s also important to ensure you have the time, energy and a practical way to complete each exercise goal you decide to take on. Ultimately, try to make your goals clear-cut yet realistic for your lifestyle if you want to stay motivated.
Find a Good Reason to Exercise
Studies show people are more likely to stick to self-controlled, intrinsically-motivated exercise programs than extrinsically-motivated routines.
In other words, you may need to reconsider your reasons for working out to maintain motivation. For example, if the brain associates working out with heavy stress, fatigue, and insufficient internal rewards, it will be less likely to stay motivated. Similarly, if workout rewards are solely external, it may be harder for them to outweigh the internal cons (stress, fear of failure, fatigue, etc.).
Instead, try to make your health a top priority. Become more mindful of the endless benefits your body receives when you work out and you’ll be more motivated to do it. After all, exercise has links to better quality of life, mood enhancement, and even an increase in the volume of certain brain regions.
Forgive Yourself When You Fail or Mess Up
People, especially men, tend to criticize themselves to stay motivated for exercise. As it turns out, it’s the opposite. Self-criticism has strong ties to depression. In other words, judging ourselves harshly for mistakes and failures often leads to sad feelings and less motivation.
Instead of making yourself afraid to fail through self-criticism, forgive yourself and figure out why you made the mistake in the first place. This way, you can fix it. Working out is about self-improvement, after all – not putting yourself down.
No one said staying motivated to work out was easy, but it is important for our physical and mental well-being. Motivational strategies and supplements can help you stay motivated to complete your workout goals and live a more fulfilling life. However, every person is different and it takes time to find the perfect combination.
If you’re a workout fanatic or someone looking to get started, we hope you find the supplements, strategies, and links provided in this article helpful to pursue your workout commitments. Leave us a reply in the comments with any questions, feedback or concerns!
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