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J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Jul;22(4):1169-75. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318173c566.

Using goal orientations to understand motivation in strength training.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA. gilsonto@msu.edu


Despite the importance that today's athletics place on strength training, research exploring the motivation of athletes in this arena is sparse. It is known that not all athletes will use the same motivational cognitions as inspiration, and these differences can be explored through achievement goal orientations. Through questionnaire data and semistructured interviews, the present study investigated how collegiate athletes maintain high levels of motivation over a period of time during strength training and explored relationships among five goal orientations: task-orientation, self-enhancing ego-orientation, self-defeating ego-orientation, social-approval orientation, and work-avoidance orientation. Subjects (N = 133), comprising 90 men and 43 women, were current varsity collegiate athletes from 15 different sports at a major Midwestern university. In addition, using a screener survey to assess achievement goal orientations, 15 subjects from the sample group who demonstrated a stronger inclination to only one achievement goal orientation were interviewed to gain a more in-depth understanding of their motivation cognitions in strength training. Results showed that the strongest achievement goal orientations reported from all athletes were task-orientation and social-approval. Additionally, five higher-order themes (significant others, improvement, competitive demands, being stronger than others, and miscellaneous) were consistent among the interviewed athletes when describing how they stay motivated during strength training. Whereas all athletes were able to describe at least one motivational strategy they employed during strength training, the dominant achievement goal orientation of some athletes influenced their motivational strategy. By employing the T.A.R.G.E.T. model (), strength coaches can foster adaptive achievement goal orientations and thereby enhance intrinsic motivation for athletes engaging in strength training.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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