Motivation – it may wax and wane throughout the year, but it’s something you’ve got to have in large supply if you ever want to make it as a bodybuilder! In fact, even if you don’t plan on stepping on stage any time soon, you’re still going to need that inner drive to get yourself to the gym – and into the kitchen – each and every day. Building a great physique is a long-term game, and if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need a lot more than those momentary moments of effort and will.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with “augmenting” that drive with a little extra pre-workout motivation! Whether you’re feeling tired, you’re in the depths of a diet or you’ve got a hard session ahead of you, a great workout video can be just what you need to get that extra little boost. Here are six of MY favorite motivational workout videos – the stuff I like to watch before my toughest, most taxing sessions!
1. Ronnie Coleman – The Cost of Redemption
Even if you didn’t start lifting until after his seven-year reign as Mr. Olympia, you’ve no doubt heard of Ronnie Coleman, arguably the best bodybuilder to ever grace the stage. Onlookers have argued ad nauseum over his physique – whether it was too big and blocky, and whether he really should have won – but there’s no arguing with his training! Even if you’re not a fan of the look he achieved, you can easily draw some motivation from his famously brutal, heavy workouts.
Ronnie had a few training DVDs and plenty of coverage on bodybuilding websites, but my favorite video of his has got to be “The Cost of Redemption.” It covers his off-season prep for the 2003 Mr. Olympia, and he’s at the heaviest and strongest point in his career. Between his 800-pound squats, 500-pound benches and famous psyche-up routines, you can’t help but get pumped to hit the gym!
2. Dorian Yates – Blood and Guts
As much as I love Ronnie’s training style, I’ve got to give just as much credit to his Olympia predecessor Dorian Yates. Dorian lifted heavy-ass weights with textbook form, and his video’s title, “Blood and Guts” perfectly captures the essence of his raw, no-frills workouts. The banter between him and his training partner may seem over-the-top and even cheesy at first glance, but once you spend a few minutes watching this bodybuilding classic, you’ll take your workouts to a whole new level.
3. Jay Cutler – Ripped to Shreds
Some people find Cutler’s training style to be a bit boring, but his discipline is second to none! Ripped to Shreds takes you through his hours-long workouts where he grinds out set after set, but it also shows you his calculated, down-to-the-minute daily routine. He’s got his meals, supplements, cardio and weight training down to an exact science, and he never deviates from he knows works best – even when it’s uncomfortable! If you’re having trouble following a regimented diet, just take a look at how he eats day in and day out. It’ll make it seem a whole lot easier to just scarf down some extra protein and carbs every day!
4. 80s Bodybuilders – Old School Bodybuilding Documentary
I dug up this old gem on the internet a few years ago, and it’s been one of my favorite videos ever since. It chronicles several of the most popular 1980s bodybuilders as they train for the Mr. Olympia. Rich Gaspari, Lee Haney, Mike Quin – it’s got all the greats from 30 years ago! They each have their unique style when it comes to training and nutrition, but the common thread is that they’ve all worked for years to find what works best for THEIR bodies. These more classic physiques also resemble what most lifters would really like to look like, so some may find it even more inspiring than more modern videos.
5. Dave Pulcinella – Raising the Bar
Pulcinella never turned pro, but the “Raising the Bar” videos his brother filmed and produced have become classics among hardcore bodybuilders. If you think Jay Cutler seemed disciplined, just wait ‘til you see how this guy approaches his contest prep. Dave became famous in part because his diet was literally limited to SIX foods – “the six foods that work,” in his words. This film is a great look into the laser-like focus and mindset of a champion, and it can motivate just about anyone in any sport.
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Pumping Iron
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got the bodybuilding industry’s cult classic, Pumping Iron. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a watch! Unlike the aforementioned films, Pumping Iron was staged to a large degree, but its narrative and theatrics only add to its appeal. From Arnold’s rise to the top of the sport to Lou Ferrigno’s journey as the underdog, everyone can find a character arc that they can relate to.
More importantly, the incredible amount of work these guys put into their contest preps shows how much the human body can really take. Their training methods and diets may be a little outdated by today’s standards, but the guys competing in the 70s more than made up for that with sheer heart and determination. The next time an hour-long leg workout seems like too much to handle, just remember that these guys were training four to five hours per day, six to seven days per week!