“Haters are my motivators” may be a tredny fitness quote, but Rocky movies taught me the opposite. Here’s how to be like Rocky and become your best self.

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

8 min read

Have you ever heard the expression, “Haters Are My Motivators!”…?

I used to believe this.

Indeed, ten years ago the best way to get me to achieve anything was to tell me I can’t do it.

But I no longer think this way, and here’s the crazy part – I’m 1000% more productive for it!

I’ve found that all the big talk about “haters” being “motivators” is nonsense. Turns out, there is a much more powerful technique you can use to transform achieve your goals.

And, yes, I learned it from a Rocky movie.

I’ll share it with you today.

What Is The “Eye Of The Tiger”?

haters are my motivators

You gotta love Rocky.

No matter what you’re going through in life, watching Rocky will always make you feel better. These movies also tackle a lot of issues most people face in the real world. And for a clear example of the motivational issues at the heart of today’s article, we must look at Rocky III…

In the first movie, the entire world could be classed as Rocky’s “hater”. He’s been written off his entire life, and dumped on by everyone close to him. He channels all that anger into his fight.

Second time around, Apollo Creed is Rocky’s so-called “hater”.

But by the time the third movie comes around, Rocky’s fresh outta “haters”.

After going from the scrappy underdog trying to prove everyone wrong to the heavyweight champion of the world who everyone loves, he finds himself training without motivation. As the theme song says, he’s lost the “Eye of the Tiger”…

When he’s challenged by the solid Mr. T, his main source of motivation is only “to shut that big mouth up”. Unable to stay focused, he lumbers through a very poor training camp on his way to defeat.

Mr. T, meanwhile, is using an entirely different motivational technique.

In his own words, he doesn’t hate Balboa (he pities the fool!). He lives alone, he trains alone, and he’s gonna win the title alone. He’s driven by a lifelong pursuit to rise up the boxing ranks and prove himself as the best in the world.

On fight night, Rocky gets absolutely f**king battered.

Easily, in fact, with Mr. T reminding us that if Rocky dares to get up he’s got “plenty o’ mo’!”

By the time the rematch arrives, however, Rocky has a very different mindset. One which is reminiscent of Mr. T from the first bout.

Second time round he’s fighting for his own reasons. He wants to see if he’s got what it takes to face his demons and win. He’s prepared to give it his best shot, win or lose, just to know he can retire with no regrets.

So what is this technique they both used to capture their goals?

Well, these are perfect examples of something called intrinsic motivation.

There’s an important lesson to be learned from this.

Why “Haters” Should NOT Be Your Motivators!

haters are not my motivatos

Don’t. Get. Me. Wrong.

If your old boyfriend Todd has always made sly little digs about your weight, you can get a great deal of satisfaction from watching their jaw drop when they see you’ve dropped 3 dress sizes and have an a** that cracks walnuts.

Hey, I didn’t say sticking it to your haters is a bad thing…

I said you can do BETTER.

You see, when we are motivated by the hate of someone else, we give them power they do not deserve. We let them rent space in our head. We spend too long trying to please arrogant motherf**kers who ultimately just make us feel like s**t and don’t deserve our time.

So stop it.

how to prove your doubters wrong

Further still, I gotta ask you a question:

What are you gonna do when your so-called “haters” become your a**-kissers?

Trust me, they will.

I speak from experience. I’ve had many enemies in my lifetime. And do you know what’s happened each time they’ve realized their words had zero impact?

I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t give a f**k.

“Haters” (i.e. people who put someone down to make themselves feel better) are the weakest-willed motherf**kers you’ll ever meet. As soon as you begin seeing RESULTS, whether that means success in your job or a transformation in the gym, your so-called “haters” will try to become your best friend and tell all their pals they know you.

Negative people DO NOT DESERVE all the power you’re giving them.

Plus, no-one can stay angry ALL the time. Not even The Hulk. As soon as you begin seeing good results from your efforts, even if your haters continue to be nasty you’ll struggle to draw any motivation from the words of people who you now know cannot stop you.

So while a sly dig from a hater may be a good jumping off point for a new lifestyle, understand it’s a poor source of motivation because it’s very temporary.

If you’re going to become the absolute BEST you can be, there’s a better way.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

intrinsic motivation

This is why I want you to focus on intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation: The desire to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual, because they find it satisfying.

Do you see the main difference?

Intrinsic motivation occurs when an individual has set their own goals and is systematically going about achieving them regardless of the input of anyone else.

Go back to my Rocky III example…

After utterly failing in the first fight where is motivation is little more than “to shut that big mouth up”, Rocky completely changes his mindset. He challenges himself to train in ways he’s never trained before. He pushes himself to face his own fears. And he realizes that his ultimate goal has nothing to do with whether some guy (in this case Mr. T) thinks poorly of him, his ultimate goal is to make himself and his wife proud before he retires.

The switch to intrinsic motivation made all the difference for Rocky, and it’s one I want YOU to make, because it’s very powerful.

In fact, research suggests it’s THE KEY to achieving a long-term change, as it helps you to sustain your new workout routine and healthy diet long after the initial burst of motivation has waned.

Don’t just take my word for it…

These were the exact findings of a 2012 review study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, where researchers looked at the long-term transformations of a group of women training to lose weight. They agreed that once short-term adaptations to a lifestyle change have subsided, intrinsic motivation takes over. (1)

The key reason for this is that intrinsic motivation creates drive.

What’s The Difference Between Motivation And Drive?

difference between motivation and drive

Motivation is fleeting.

Anyone can watch a 5 minute video of some dude shouting “DO IT!”, but then what happens? For most people, they close their phone or laptop, and life carries on as normal!

Drive is entirely different from motivation.

It is the ability to focus on the things you need to do even when you don’t feel like it.

Trust me, the most motivational video in the world will struggle to get you out of bed at 4 a.m. to run one of my brutal sprint workouts. For that, you must have DRIVE.

Intrinsic motivation (motivation to do something positive for yourself, or those you love) is the factor that creates this drive. Hate does not.

My man CT Fletcher gets it:

Having a positive source of motivation will always lead to a greater long-term change. Whether you are training to make someone proud (or yourself), or you have a specific goal you’ve always wanted to achieve, these factors can create DRIVE and that will ensure you’re in the gym long after the futile words of your so-called “haters” have all fallen to the wayside.

So think about why you’re training, and what you’d like to achieve.

Get a plan that will help you realize those goals.

Then go to work.

You have within you an iron will. One which will not bend, and will not break. It is waiting for your attention.

And the next time some motherf**ker makes a sly dig about how they don’t think you’ve got what it takes to see it through, remember the words of Rocky himself:

“Ain’t so bad!”

Sylvester Stallone Rocky 3 workout


  1. Teixeira P. J., et al. Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. (2012)

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

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