Discipline vs. Motivation: The Secret Sauce for Crushing Your Fitness and Health Goals

Why CrossFit fosters motivation, discipline and freedom.
Joel Stacey
November 17, 2023
Discipline vs. Motivation: The Secret Sauce for Crushing Your Fitness and Health Goals

Ah, the coveted CrossFit life. The sweat, the sore muscles, and the satisfaction of crushing your WOD (Workout of the Day) are incomparable. But let’s be honest, how many times have you hit that snooze button, convincing yourself you’ll make up for it tomorrow? We all fall prey to the waning whims of motivation, yet some CrossFit aficionados seem impervious to this struggle. What's their secret? The answer lies in the constant tug-of-war between discipline and motivation.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is that euphoric feeling of desire and enthusiasm you get when you’re inspired. It's the spark that ignites when you watch a CrossFit Games highlight reel or see a friend's fitness transformation. Motivation is potent, and when it's present, it’s easy to make it to your CrossFit class, blast through your workouts, and even enjoy the suffering.

Pros and Cons of Motivation



What is Discipline?

Discipline, on the other hand, is the long-burning fuel that keeps your engine running even when you'd rather be anywhere but the gym. It’s the structured routine that has you lacing up your shoes, not because you 'feel like it,' but because it’s a non-negotiable part of your day.

Pros and Cons of Discipline



Discipline in the Context of CrossFit

CrossFit is rigorous and demanding. The workouts are intense, varied, and designed to push you out of your comfort zone. While motivation can get you started, it won’t sustain you in the long haul. Here’s why discipline is crucial:


CrossFit demands consistency. Whether it's mastering the technique for Olympic lifts or pushing your cardiovascular endurance, you can't 'cram' fitness. Discipline ensures you are consistent in your efforts, which leads to steady improvement.


When you make a commitment to discipline, you’re not just accountable to your coach or peers; you’re accountable to yourself. This internal accountability is far more sustainable than external praise or validation.

Mental Toughness

Let’s face it; CrossFit can be as much a mental game as it is a physical one. The discipline required to stick to your routine even when you’re not 'feeling it' develops mental resilience, a crucial skill both inside and outside the gym.

The Symbiosis: Motivation Fuels Discipline, Discipline Sustains Motivation

The ideal situation is not to pick one over the other but to cultivate both. Use motivation as the spark to ignite your passion and discipline as the fuel to keep that flame burning. When you’re motivated, take advantage of that energy to establish good habits. Conversely, when motivation dips, rely on the discipline of your established habits to carry you through.

Practical Tips

  1. Set Clear Goals: Know what you're aiming for, so both your motivation and discipline have direction.
  2. Establish Routine: Use a disciplined schedule to remove decision fatigue. Decide the days and times you'll go to your CrossFit class and stick to them.
  3. Find a Tribe: A supportive community can boost motivation, while a structured class environment reinforces discipline.
  4. Reflect and Adapt: Regularly check-in with yourself to celebrate wins and identify areas for improvement. This self-assessment serves to reignite motivation and recalibrate discipline.


In the realm of CrossFit, both discipline and motivation have their places. While motivation may get you through the door initially, it's discipline that will keep you coming back, perfecting your form, shattering your personal bests, and ultimately, transforming you into the CrossFit athlete you aspire to be. Remember, motivation is the spark, but discipline is the fuel. Keep both in your arsenal, and you’ll be unstoppable in your CrossFit journey.

Full disclosure. The above piece was written by my AI tool I use. While the tool, makes excellent points, things we all could strive to do better. Please allow me to give you some personal thoughts on the matter of Discipline vs. Motivation. Let me first say Discipline is the first mountain we need to climb. That's right it doesn't end at Discipline. If that was the only mountain to climb this journey would be pointless. So, a second mountain appears once we summit the mountain of Discipline. That mountain is the one of Peace of Mind. Having the piece of mind that I am free of Chronic Disease, that I will be there for my family, the peace of mind knowing I can conquer, being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. Said another way, we do this to create FREEDOM. Freedom from disease, Freedom to help others, Freedom to carry the groceries in one trip, no matter how old I am. So Discipline is the necessary step to get to creating Freedom and ultimately peace of mind. One way to do that is to begin with the end in mind. Or, asking yourself, what is the goal of the goal? Why do you go to the gym, eat clean, get 7 plus hours of sleep, read your bible everyday? If, your answer is to just check it off the list you are missing the point.

So, as I sit here writing this, I can hear the excuses in my head. "I have a spouse", "I have young kids", "I have a job", "Easy for you to say, you live at the gym", and countless other excuses. If we do not first fill our cup, how can we fill someone else's cup? I have a family, and I have worked in the corporate world putting in 60-70 hour work weeks. Still found time to WOD, and spend time with the family.

Finally, if you are struggling to come to class 5 times a week. Ask for help! The reason, all of your coaches became coaches was to help others. We are here to help.

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