Competition motivation theory is the idea that we perform better when we compete with others. Put simply, competition drives results.
Working out alone has pros and cons
Over the last 4-ish years, I’ve done the majority of my daily fitness by myself. I sometimes enjoy this because it is just me, and I can use it to plan my day, consider a topic at hand. It lets me think through a problem I have in life, or go into zen mode.
For most people, working out alone is tough. You have to be very self motivated and highly dedicated. There is no one there to peer pressure you into getting up, or pushing yourself in the workout.
Being alone makes it easy to back off of the intensity. No one is expecting to see you thrive. And while you may get the time to yourself no one is cheering for you or your accomplishments. It can become very lonesome.
One of the biggest issues training alone is that there is no competition. It is just you, you don’t have anyone to help push you and no one to gauge your pace.
CrossFit thrives off competition motivation theory
I don’t know if this is true but it makes for a good story. I remember hearing someone talk about something Greg Glassman (founder of CrossFit) said. Supposedly it was something along the lines of, ‘put two people in a room with a clock and a task to complete and they will kill themselves to beat each other.’
I can’t seem to find if he actually said that or not but it brings up a good point. If you want to get better, you need competition. It is one of the reasons CrossFit allows affiliates to open right across the street from each other. The best ones win.
Healthy competition is good. It helps produce the best results. Many people struggle to stay motivated, and competition really helps.Without competition, results become stagnant and fall to the lowest point allowed.
Competition also drives innovation and new ideas. Why did the butterfly pull up become a thing? It was the innovation of athletes trying to fit in more work in less time, because they wanted to beat their competition.
Use your competitive nature
I love seeing a competitive nature in people, particularly in the gym. I can watch people work out and tell who has it and who doesn’t.
Some people just move at their pace. It doesn’t matter if they could beat the person next to them or not, they are steadfast in their own pace. I honestly admire these types, I think they are mentally and emotionally strong in a certain sense. They don’t allow others to persuade them easily. It is a trait I find attractive.
Equally as attractive is that push and fight that others show. I am definitely this type. You might be a new athlete scaling every movement and weight while I am doing Rx, I don’t care, I still want to finish before you.
Watching these types brings me joy. You see the glances at their competition, and then to the clock. You see them pick the pace up. Their faces usually have a pained expression, and they are gasping for breath but they continue to push. Usually, at this point, their competitor is onto them, and they start pushing harder. It soon becomes an all out sprint to the death. This is competition motivation theory in practice.
Luckily, I have yet to see anyone actually die from this. What actually happens is both athletes win. They used each other to push and finish a WOD they may otherwise have backed off of and just gone through the motions to complete.