• John Larson

Young Motivation

Updated: Feb 8


When I became a parent, I chose to put bodybuilding away for a moment and focus my energy on raising my kids. The lessons I learned early on from dedicating myself to fitness were useful tools to help me properly parent four young children. Motivation and commitment were two major factors to my bodybuilding success, and I used those traits to help get my kids on a good track as well.


I did my best to continue to eat, and feed my family, a full balanced diet. As a bodybuilder, my diet ws all about eating for purpose and not necessarily for pleasure. Over time I learned how to prepare my meals in a way my kids would love and they grew up strong and capable.


My youngest son Xavier took interest in weight lifting during his highschool years. He would ask me questions about my bodybuilding past and he showed the commitment needed. I watched Xavier look for ways to challenge his strength while he played. If there was a tree he could climb, he was in it. If there was a push up contest, he entered it.


Just recently, we were training on a shoulder day. Shoulders are a fun day for us both and we went for it. We are currently training in NASM’s Phase 3 Hypertrophy stage and heavy weights are the key. Days spent lifting heavy weights can be grueling. Phase 3 workouts are tough enough without raising the stakes, but that never stops Xavier from pushing his limits.


As we were finishing our shoulder routine, Xavier wanted to see if he could Military Press 135lbs from a standing position. This movement is not for the weak. Pressing weight above your head is tough enough, but after a shoulder day it is ten times more difficult. My response to him was the same response I have given him everytime he pushed himself this way. I said, “If you think you can do it, then do it”.




Young motivation is one of the purest forms of extrinsic motivation. A young person who is motivated extrinsically will work on weight lifting goals even though they may hate what they are doing. Youngsters live for the anticipated gains. Extrinsic motivation has been called crude and rudimentary, but it's still probably one of the most effective types of motivation you can focus on when in the gym.


45lbs is the weight lifting bar plus two 45lb plates on each side equals 135lbs. This configuration is common when on a bench press. Most bodybuilders will start with a plate on each side to get their chest routines started. On average, the weights will go up and the repetitions go down. An average weight lifter will end the exercise with an additional 30 to 50lbs by the final set.


Military Shoulder Press is a pushing movement just like a bench press, however, because of the plane of motion and gravity, the weight is generally much less than a bench press. When Xavier said he was going to Military Press two plates, well, this I had to see!


We set-up the bar and before Xavier started his attempt, he added two 5lbs plates to each side. His weight was sitting pretty at 145lbs. It bears mentioning that this was his last set after doing three full sets of heavy weight.


As it normally does, the weight room went silent as Xavier approached the bar. As he got closer to the bar the weights seemed to look smaller. The number to achieve on this set was 4 repetitions.


Spotting a Standing Military Press is an all-hands-on-deck experience. Lifting heavy weights above your head can be dangerous. Utilizing a spot is always a good idea when trying something heavy and new.


Xavier cleared the weight and put up his first rep with ease. He lifted the heavy weight with perfect form and got all 4 of his reps. As the spotter, I thought he was done and ready to rack his weight. But Xavier went for a 5th repetition and cleared it like a professional bodybuilder.




Young motivation is a powerful tool that everyone can tap into from time to time. We all have our limits, that is for sure, but digging deep and pushing through tough moments can pay big.


John “Wyld Stile” Larson

Firefighter II / EMT (Basic)

FEMA Hazmat Operator

Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT)

Virtual Coaching Specialist (NASM-VCS)

Certified Group Fitness Instructor (AFAA-CGFI)



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