Commando Boxing

Staying Motivated to Train


It could have started anywhere... 

It might have started when you watched Rocky, Cinderella Man, or Million Dollar Baby.  

Maybe it happened when you were at a UFC, amateur, or professional boxing match or tournament.  

Maybe a friend keeps talking about how awesome their boxing club is and the incredible changes taking place in his or her life as the training he or she is doing inspires confidence, builds muscle and burns excess fat. 


Wherever it was enough to get you to type "learn how to box" into Google and visit sites like Commando Boxing looking for information.  From there, maybe you signed up for access to boxing training in the Boxing Skills Stream.  You may even have looked at it and tried following it for a few days...and then reality hits.  This is all going to take effort - and whatever it was that got you here, is no longer enough to keep you going.

Recently, I sent a survey to all the people who signed up for the Boxing Skills Stream  - to find out how I could be more helpful and make it easier for them to learn how to box or use boxing to get in great shape.  By a landslide, the most frequent response was:

"I have problems staying motivated to follow a training plan..."

And I get it - motivation is a finicky beast.  I'm no different than you.  On good days we have it - on bad days we don't - and on mediocre days - it might be there or not.  But without the motivation to keep moving forward - we just stop.  And once we stop - it's much, much harder to get moving again.  And without motivation at all - forget about trying to overcome anything remotely challenging that might be in the way.

Today I'm going to give you some pointers for keeping your level of motivation high - so that sticking to your training plan becomes less of a challenge in your quest to learn how to box or get in shape.  


Try these tips:


Problem:  Analysis paralysis - When you don't understand something, you gather information that helps you understand it.  You may gather so much information that you get lost in it and lose track of what you need to do to learn the skill you were interested in.

Too much information keeps you from acting.  And if you don't act - you don't learn.  To make matters worse, information will conflict and further paralyse you.  Days, weeks, months, and years will go by as you look for the best course of action to follow until you get to the point where you haven't followed any course of action and time is up.  

Solution:  Set a deadline, pick one course or one training plan, and just go with it.  I don't want you to commit your time and energy to junk, but the longer you take to get started, the more likely you are going to end up in analysis paralysis.  Stop looking for something better.  You won't always make the right choice - but you'll quickly figure that out once you start and there is nothing stopping you from changing - but at least you are in action mode.


Problem:  There is a story about an elephant and his rider.  A well-trained elephant will go where his rider wants him to go - until the elephant no longer wants to go there - then the elephant is in control.

In your case - emotions are the elephant and rational thinking is the rider.  In every single instance - your emotions will eventually beat out rational thinking.  You may know that you should train today, but if watching TV gives you more pleasure - you're going to watch TV.

Solution:  Get emotional about why you want to learn to box or get in shape.  Somewhere in your head you think that boxing is going to solve a problem or give you some incredible pleasure.  You have to tap into that elephant.  Maybe you get picked on a lot and you want boxing to make you more confident to stop the bullying.  Perhaps you're hoping that boxing training is going to make you more sexually appealing to the opposite sex.  Those motivators are much more powerful than trying to trick yourself into boxing by thinking it is a valuable skill to learn or it will make you more healthy.


Problem:  You start thinking about everything you need to do, get overwhelmed, and never get started.  Inertia takes over and doing nothing becomes a lot easier than doing something.

Solution:  Do something - anything.  You simply need to start and that one thing will lead to another to another and before long you've got some momentum going.  It doesn't even have to be big.  The act of getting off the couch with the intention of going to the gym can send you towards the door, to your car and before you know it, you're in the gym.  Action leads to more action.  Pick whatever you can do and just do that - it will get you closer to where you want to go.


Problem:  If we go back to our elephant and rider example - if the rider gets tired - he or she can no longer battle the will of the elephant.  We all have a finite amount of willpower in us.  Your brain will only make so many decisions in a day before it resorts to habits to get you through your day.

A habit frees up the conscious part of your brain to focus on other decisions.  The habit runs in the background like a computer program as soon as it is triggered.  Sometimes you don't even know it's happening.  You likely don't have the conscious willpower to force yourself to learn to box or train everyday.

Solution:  Make it a habit.  When I get home from work - I'm usually wiped out.  I make a tremendous number of important decisions over the course of a day and the last thing I want to do when I get home is make any more or try to force myself to do anything.  So, over the course of a few weeks I set a trigger that gets me into my gym with my son to do our daily training.

That trigger is taking off my uniform.  The habit starts running - I put on my workout clothes, go downstairs into my gym, do the training that is scheduled, eat and relax.  There are no decisions to make in any of that - it was pre-decided and now the habit just runs.  It actually takes more effort to do something else than it does to train.

Set a trigger that works for you and then make the sequence of training as automatic as possible.  That will mean having a training plan such as the How to Box System ready to go in advance so your program simply runs in the background and you do what is prescribed that day.


Problem:  You've tried everything I've outline here, but you still have no desire/motivation - and that totally sucks.  None of us meet our own expectations 100% of the time.  If you are relying on yourself to make big changes in your life - 98% of us will fail if we try to go it alone.

Solution:  Involve someone else.  Don't let them down.  Whether it is a promise you make to someone or a training partner you are to meet at a certain time - you will have a much harder time doing something that will have a negative impact on someone you respect or make a promise to.

A good coach or mentor is truly invaluable.  The best have done what you want to do and will know what you are going through.  They will help you through the worst of times and pick you up when you fall.  They don't have to be a professional - they can simply be a friend - but you'll need that support and guidance sometime during your journey.


Like I wrote at the beginning of all this - motivation is a finicky beast.  You won't have it each and every day - but if you employ the principles I outlined here, there's a much better chance that you'll have enough of it to get you started and keep you on track when things get tough.

And when you fail...and you have to realize that what you are doing is not an all or nothing sort of thing.  If you train 10 days straight and then have four bad days in a row, you are still six days ahead of where you were when you started.  It's all cumulative.  If you think you have to be perfect - you're setting yourself up for failure.  All you really need to be is consistent - over time.  Find some joy in the journey.

So give these tips a shot and see how long you can keep yourself going - and when a bad day comes simply reassess and employ the tips here to get yourself motivated again to carry on from where you left off - no judgment, no self doubt.

And when you run out of the ability to keep yourself going - remember to reach out and tap into the energy of others - a mentor, coach, friend, or even the others here on Commando Boxing.  Hope that helps.  Boxon.

About the Author Coach Aaron

Coach Aaron founded Commando Boxing in 2003. When he's not boxing, he's running ultramarathons or using data science/blockchains to create mixed reality HoloLens applications.

  • Lee-Roy Du Preez says:

    Thanks a lot for the tips. I will use these tips everyday. I will become a professional boxer.

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