Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation: Which Mindset Will Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals?

Woman doing an ab workout
Image via Haritonoff/depositphotos

Fitness motivation comes from all sorts of different places, and it can be driven by both external and internal factors. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are two sides of the same coin, but which mindset can do you more favors in terms of reaching your fitness goals?

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards, and it’s extremely common in the world of fitness. People who rely on this strategy tend to focus on specific goals, such as trying to hit your target weight, toning your muscles, getting flat abs, fitting into your old jeans, and so on.

External motivators work for some people, but this strategy won’t be that effective if your mental health suffers while you’re trying to reach your physical goals. If you notice that’s happening in your case, intrinsic motivation is the thing you need.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal rewards, and it’s the type of behavior that will have you engaging in activities that bring you joy, not just ones that lead to the fulfillment of future goals. If you’re prone to this strategy, you’ll work out because it feels good and helps you relax.

Intrinsic motivation is also a much better strategy in the long run because you’ll feel inspired to keep working out even after reaching your external goals. It will also inspire you to find activities that you can stick to because you actually enjoy doing them.