Pretty much everyone I know who works out consistently struggles with motivation. People have different reasons for going to the gym, and it’s not always easy to muster up the enthusiasm necessary to get your sweat on. If you are fighting with yourself over whether or not you are going to exercise today, I have some tips that may help.
Motivation is a funny thing, sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not. If you have never worked out or been to a gym before, you may be super motivated because it’s new and different. But inevitably the desire will wane over time.
My experience has been all over the place. When I was recovering from my back injury in 2016, for several months, I was not able to do much of anything physically. I was dealing with spinal stenosis (more information), so I did a lot of icing and resting.
When I was finally able to hit the gym, I was like a kid in a candy store, just so excited to get back out there. But over time my enthusiasm left me and working out became just that, work.
Over the years, I have had to find some ways to keep myself engaged, and I hope these tools can give you a boost as well.
Change it up
One of the best ways to get over a slump is to try something new. If you are someone who works out 5 days per week, it can get boring, I know I have been there. Finding new stuff to add to your routine can really give you a boost.
One thing I have a hard time with is what I call a “lazy workout.” I get so used to doing the same, and it’s easy. I can get in and out of the gym without much time or thought. The problem is, I don’t want to go, and I don’t see any gains.
Some things you can do to add variety and change it up are:
- Workout at home. This is not always as easy as it sounds, especially if you don’t have any equipment, but check out this post about bodyweight exercises.
- Walk, run, ride your bike. Sometimes I will skip the gym, and go for a long bike ride, or fast-paced walk. This isn’t pumping mass iron, but it’s something different and can engage more muscles than you are used to.
- Do pushups. One of my favorites, pushups are a great exercise that you can do anywhere.
Lately, I have been doing more core/functional/mobility work and it’s a heck of a lot more fun than just pumping out a bunch of arm curls, or bench press reps.
Workout with a buddy
Working out with someone else is great, it helps to keep you both accountable. Here is a great example. My wife and I were at our daughters’ sand volleyball tournament on Saturday, pretty much all day. When we got home, I jokingly (not so jokingly) asked when she wanted to go to the gym.
We were both tired from all that sitting at the volleyball tourney, and I was expecting her to laugh at me. But she didn’t, and we went to the gym. That was the best thing for us, we could have very easily blown off exercising, but it is essential that we don’t do that. Afterward we both had more energy and were so glad we went.
Anyway, the buddy system worked for us, and it can work for you too.
Track your progress
Keeping track of your fitness progress these days is pretty easy with wearable technology and a smartphone. I think tracking is critical in staying motivated when you work out. If you don’t know if you are making progress, then you probably are not going to stick with it.
Whatever your goals are, it makes sense to keep track of your progress. If your goals are to ride an elliptical for 30 minutes, then you need to track where you are at each time to use the machine. If you are like me, I barely remember what I had for breakfast let alone how many walking lunges I did last Thursday.
Hire a trainer
Trainers are there to help you achieve your fitness goals. If you are a beginner and don’t know where to start, hiring a personal trainer is a great way to get started. You can learn the basics from a trainer and then hopefully build your own routine from there.
Folks who are more advanced can also benefit from hiring a trainer. Trainers have different specialties so you can find someone to help you break through a plateau if that is where you are at. Or if you are looking to build muscle, a trainer can guide you through that process.
I go back to trying different things. For me, mixing it up is critical, so I don’t get bored. Hiring a trainer can help you see things from a different perspective.
I have a couple of reasons for working out. First of all, I have been dealing with back problems for about 20 years, and exercise is a great way to build core muscles to help support my spine. An overall stronger body is good for me and my back pain.
I also workout to stay in shape and keep up with my kids. I have always been a very active person, so exercise is kind of ingrained in me. Plus it’s a great way to blow off steam when I am stressed, overworked, or just plain cranky.
My goals aren’t necessarily defined by how many times I can bench press 225 pounds. My goals are centered on maintaining a certain level of core strength to help my ailing back.
I need to set aside time in my day to work out, if I don’t, I will wander around aimlessly until it’s time to go to bed. Well, maybe I am not quite that bad, but I do have to schedule time in my day for certain activities, to help me stay on task and get stuff done.
It’s no different than scheduling a meeting at work. Block off your calendar for an hour and get some exercise in. You will thank yourself later when you feel more energized and awake. Trust me, I have to do this myself, of I, will not get it done.
This is critical for me. If I have an idea before I work out, I am so much more motivated to get in there and get it done. No plan equals a waste of my time.
Sometimes, when I was in a pinch for time, I would go to the gym, just to go. Then I would wander around trying to figure out what I want to do. At times I just end up leaving. I am a planner, so I have to have a strategy before I jump in with both feet.
Conclusion: 7 tips for staying motivated to workout
Motivation is different for everyone, and I hope my tips will help you in that area. Hopefully, you can take some of these tips and get out there and exercise when you just aren’t feeling it.
Out of all the tips I listed, I would say that working out with a partner, and having a plan are the most significant factors that keep me motivated to exercise consistently. Mustering up the motivation to go to the gym alone is not always easy. It’s hard work to hold yourself accountable.
Maybe that is your thing though, working out alone. Perhaps it’s your ticket out of the house for an hour, no kids, no distractions, and that is motivation enough.
I would love to hear any tips you may have, or what works to keep you inspired to hit the gym. Maybe the gym isn’t your thing, and you have other ways you exercise. Perhaps you practice yoga in your living room or go hiking three days per week. Whatever it is, what keeps you going?
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a great day!