Rebounding Harder than Dennis Rodman

By Zach Dorworth

That Flex Life Rebounding Harder Than Dennis Rodman


I've seen the scrawny rise and the shredded fall. I've seen young men commit to kale and tilapia, just to end up bangin Twinkies back on the block three months later. I've helped men lose 25 pounds and watch them gain back 50. Rebounding happens nearly as often as I train arms- a lot.  

There have been only a handful of men I've seen that sustain a healthy lifestyle for the long haul. A few of these men I've coached along the way. Some have transformed into mass monsters, some gained barbell-bending strength, some lowered their triglycerides, and some have more energy on a daily basis- all commendable. 

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What's different about those who eventually conform to a health-oriented lifestyle and those that fall off the gain train? Nine times out of ten it's a simple difference of motivation and goals. I have separated them into two groups: Extrinsic Motivators and Intrinsic Motivators. 

Extrinsic Motivation

​Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards and goals. In our world of health and fitness this may include physique competitions, weddings, money, insta-fame, beach vacations, and New Years resolutions.

Extrinsic motivators get results and they usually get them quick. Having a definitive goal provides an end point and the short time-frame can help justify the lifestyle changes necessary to meet the mark. ​Being motivated by external forces doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

Backstage Physique Show

I wasn't even supersetting back then,
but I was still flexin' on em. 

The issues with extrinsic goals lie in the necessity for extreme lifestyle changes, the possibility of losing motivation or direction after achieving goals, and the subjective feedback received at the destination. I'm going to discuss all of these so we can get on the same page.

Making the lifestyle change

It's not too common that we start working towards goals more than 3 months away. Aside from those that are VERY out of shape and wanting to prepare for bodybuilding or physique competitions, I've never seen it. On average, people reach out to me 1 or 2 months from their target date. You can imagine the lifestyle changes this short time frame requires. It usually involves strict macro counting, elimination of social outings, and setting up temporary residence at the local gym. After a matter of weeks, it simply becomes a mental battle, an exhausting battle, and an unsustainable battle. Keep reading...

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Life after the goal

You just finished a gruesome battle again constant hunger, sleep deprivation, and the stair master. But you know what? You won that battle and you reached your goal. If you had to stick it out another day or two you might have caved. But what now? I hope you got some good pictures because chances are it wont last. This is what happens when you take up unsustainable habits. I hope you have a really good source of motivation to justify the continual mental and physical exhaustion. See, you won the battle but surely LIFE will win this war. It's all about that path of least resistance thing... and the couch is looking real good. #REBOUND 

One month later

One month post show in St. Martin. Bye, gym. Hello, pizza & booze!

Keyboard warriors and professional judges

I'll be honest with you, this is a huge gripe of mine. I strongly urge men just getting into fitness to have goals other than competing. Listen, people can be rough. Imagine you just endured 2 months of extreme lifestyle change and mental exhaustion. At this point you look better than you've looked in your entire life. You probably dropped a ton of body fat, packed on some decent muscle, and upped your strength enough to brag about it to your home boys. Now, you finally step on stage.

You're probably standing next to guys who have been training for 5 years trying to get that 1st place plastic trophy. This is their life calling, their "professional career," their make it or break it. Some are willing to risk life and long-term health using anabolics, diuretics, and God knows what else... yes, it really happens. Here comes the fun part. Now you get judged by a panel of ass-hat "professionals" more corrupt than the politicians running for the highest offices in the land (cue the Clinton/Trump meme). 

Seriously, save yourself from this fuckery. There is nothing more depressing than being in the best shape of your life and getting subjectively blasted by overly tanned men wearing Affliction shirts atop ripped stonewashed denim and women wearing mini dresses (and I mean mini) eating cold tilapia from Ziploc bags... a.k.a professional judges. If rebounding and going into permanent hiding are your desired goals, this is your best route. And don't forget to say goodbye to your self confidence.

One month post show 2

Same vacation, more pizza, more booze, less abs.

As you can see from the examples above, extrinsic goals aren't bad for short term success. However, you shouldn't plan on the results lasting unless you find new purpose in training. 

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal desire, passion for growth, being better every day, or simply enjoying the task; a.k.a. doing it for you. In the fitness world, intrinsic goals may include improving long-term health and wellbeing, strength progression, stress management, continual learning of biomechanics, and refining new methods of training. 

​Being motivated by intrinsic factors isn't always a bed of roses. Intrinsic motivators often get discouraged when they don't see progress or change right away. Those worried about the long-term destination are more likely to choose sustainable methods for reaching their goals. But these methods usually result in slower progress and can result in an initial loss of motivation. If you can keep your eyes on the prize through the first few months, your patience will set you up for success that is sustainable. Say bye to rebounding. 

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This is where having a knowledgable coach comes in handy. When you know WHY you're doing what you are in the gym, you become more involved and ultimately see better results. When someone is holding you accountable it helps get you over the initial hump before visual progress begins. Before you know it, health and fitness becomes a staple in your daily routine and you wont need a coach anymore. 

Oxygen Magazine Centerfold

We motivate each other to motivate others.

The unique thing about this intrinsically motivated group is the more they learn and the more independent they become with their training, the more self-confident they become. Self-confidence is by far the biggest intrinsic motivator I have seen over my years. Increase a man's self-confidence, even a little bit, and you'd think he won the lottery. If you can give a man more confidence through training, chances are he's going to stick with it. 

Change Your Motivation

I understand how someone new to fitness can get excited about extrinsic goals. When I first started training, all I wanted to do was compete in a physique competition: it was the thing to do. I ended up doing poorly and my confidence took a hit. I was down on myself because I thought I looked great. I left pouty with the "I'll show them" attitude. Those feelings lasted a whole three weeks before I realized how ridiculous it was that a few people's opinions affected my mood so much. 

Put purpose to training

Luckily, shortly after, I got excited about something else. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the human body, biomechanics, proper training, and all things nutrition and pass that on to others. My new goal was to take this complex information and make it digestible and easy to understand for EVERYONE. As I continue to learn, I become more intrinsically motivated. Not only that, but it puts purpose to my training. I am no longer throwing weights around and wasting energy in the gym. I'm moving weight with specific purpose and everyone has noticed the results. 

Zach Dorworth That Flex Life Flexible Dieting University

Dishing up nutrition info like a boss, lately.

I've now had the opportunity to share these lessons with hundreds, maybe even thousands of people at this point. As I explain HOW to do something properly and explain WHY, it all starts to click. It's not long before they get excited about learning more. It puts purpose to their training and builds their confidence. I see them progress from just going through the motions to moving appropriate weight with highly calculated precision. They start to see progress quickly and this builds motivation. 

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Love to learn; learn to love it

I think we can agree that intrinsic motivation is the key to long term success. Extrinsic goals aren't always bad, but they are undoubtedly the culprit of nearly all rebounding. Find a way to discover purpose in your training and get excited about learning. Continue to build self-confidence and before you know it, you'll be the one helping others make the same mindful transition. It's awesome when I see previous trainees become mentors and take on trainees of their own. It's a cascade effect and it's something this fitness industry needs very badly. The best thing you can do for yourself is ask "WHY?" Never stop asking "WHY?" Never stop learning. 

Related articles for continued LEARNING:
- {DUP} 1 Way To Make Sure Progress Never Stops
- Building Muscle and Losing Fat: The 3 Most Important Tips
- Failure: The #1 Biggest Mistake I See In The Gym


About the Author

Zach Dorworth is a pharmacist and the founder of That Flex Life, a fitness community focused on making America swole again with thousands of monthly readers and a popular email newsletter.