How to find (and keep)
motivation to train
(even when you don’t feel like it)
Motivation even for the most consistent committed trainee can dip, every now and again. Even those highly internally motivated individuals who train regularly 3-5x per week for years, have THOSE days.
It is normal, part of the journey, and it is best to have some strategies in your rolled up sleeves.
Here are a few ideas to give a go, when you feel like you lost your mojo.
1. Change your focus.
Weight loss as a goal can used, short term, especially if you are under a strict timeline such as for a wedding or special event, however, weight loss as motivation never lasts long term. Instead of seeing a workout as a way to lose weight, find more objective reasons for training, such as getting stronger, or better quality of movement.
Are you able to add 5lbs more lbs to one set of your deadlifts? Did you finally do that pull-up you have been working towards? Do you find the overall workout easier than when you started? Track your workout time, and see if you can beat that time by 3-5 mins the next workout. Focus on good quality reps, perfect form, and mastering the movement.
2. Get organized.
Set yourself up for success. No one said keeping this habit, once the novelty of starting something new wore off, would be easy.
Pack your bag for the gym (clothes, shoes, toiletries), water, lunch, set out your workout clothes, shoes, socks, set the alarms, and take action to go to bed 30 mins earlier, to ensure, that you will stick to this habit.
Practice makes more likely to stick.
The Huffingpost reports that it takes anywhere from “21 days to 8 months to make a new habit stick.”
3. Book your workouts as appointments.
On a weekly basis, look at your schedule, and allocate time for your workouts. Book them like appointments, blocking out that time for you.
This way you are less likely to bend if someone asks, “are you busy on the 4th at 12pm?”. No I have an appointment, is your answer.
No further explanation needed. Stick to it [the appointment] like someone is waiting for you.
4. Do activity you enjoy.
I have a client who has a love/hate relationship with the gym. She sees the value in it, and does train periodically to cross train for another activity she loves – Dek Hockey. She can play upwards of 5-6 hours on a Saturday, and will spend all of her weekend on tournaments, and being a replacement on various teams when needed. She found her passion to be able to control and lose 30+ lbs and it off over the last couple of years.
If you love the activity you do such as biking, running, or taking bootcamp classes, and are are having fun, will be more likely to stick to it.
5. Accessorize. Use the various workout TOYS as Inspiration.
New gloves, lifting straps, hooks, wear your best workout gear, put on makeup, do your hair. Put something fun in your water, like BCAAs, Creatine, or even a pre-workout can give an extra spark and inspiration to get to in a workout that day.
Remember to dress the part, and wear your BEST workout gear and sneakers.
More expensive toys, like wireless bluetooth headsets, or a fitbit can add to your reasons to train, in order to get through this momentary dip in motivation.
6. TV/Music/YouTube 📺
If you are going to do cardio, I say, use your time wisely.
Watching TV, or listening to a podcast is a distraction, and you can use this opportunity to learn something new. You can check out for a few minutes, take a mental vacation from your day, AND get fit. It makes the time pass quicker (when you really want to be doing something else).
I have a friend who uses hockey season to lose weight. In a few months, he was 20lbs lighter, by doing nothing more than riding his stationary bike while doing something he would do anyway – watch hockey.
Music while training can help change your mood, and inspire you to ‘get ere’ done’. We all know how our kids love heart ♥️ YouTube, and searching for motivation videos, or something you want to research brings up oodles of options you can play in the background to get your but moving.
Music may not make the activity easier, but it will allow you to enjoy it more.
If that Bon Jovi soundtrack, keeps you “runaway” past that 8-month mark so that you ‘never say goodbye’ to the gym, you will ’always’, “now and forever”, have “no regrets”.
You can use a subscription service like iTunes, or Spotify to jazz up your playlists, or just search YouTube for something that interests you.
Motivational & Inspiration Videos
Turn the volume up, listen with your ears (not your eyes)
Listen while doing cardio or walking, or just sitting and listen with your mind, and you heart.
Absorb the words.
Let the emotion move you into action.
Motivational Speech – YOU can do it.
7. Some is better than none
Give yourself permission to leave or at least do less. There are those times when you would rather be doing something else. I say, go to the gym (50% of the work done), and give yourself permission to:
1. Cut the workout shorter by doing 2 sets of everything vs 3-4 sets.
2. Get through half the workout (or even just the warmup), and then decide if you want to leave.
8. Habits of Success
What do you tell yourself before you go to your workout? When you enter the building? What are your habits of success to ensure the workout you are going to have is at least going to be good? After you are done/leave? Not all workouts are great, but they are at least good.
You can, through practice, talk yourself into a workout.
My pre-workout, workout, post-workout mindset game plan goes something like this:
(a mimi pump up session in my head)
👉Before (pre—workout)—> “this is going to be the best workout ever”, “a strong me, is a healthy me”, “sweat is fat crying”.
🏋️♂️During the workout —> “focus on perfect reps”, or the “mind-muscle connection” , “blinders on, there is no one here but me – block out the people around you”.
🙌🏻After (post-workout) –>After your done, give yourself a pat on the back for going (mental high five), feel accomplished, and another workout in the books.
9. Time Card Days
Remember those old time card machines?
My first job, that is how you logged your hours. You would come in, ‘clock-in’ and when you left, you would ‘clock out’. That job I often did not want to be there. I worked in a fish restaurant, and it was smelly, greasy, and really long hours. Like training – minus the long hours – you can put in what I call ‘clock-in’ days. You don’t want to be here, but you do the work and leave. Head down, no talk, headphones, focus, and then leave. Most times you are on autopilot, not even really thinking, and just going through the motions. Sometimes you just have to do it, knowing you will be better off in the long run.
10. Positive reinforcement
Bribe yourself to go. Reward yourself after.
Daily rewards such a protein shake from the smoothie bar vs from home, or coffee, or even just the reward of washing your hair.
Weekly rewards could be a manicure, pedicure, massage or those new sneakers you were eyeing, for a series of workouts achieved.
11. Early Bird
Put your workout as the priority of the first thing in the day. This will ensure, that you get it done. Then it is off your to do list and won’t get trumped by other things in your life.
12. Focus on the AFTER
Arrive at the gym, visually lay out, how you are going to do your workout, by moving around the gym. If it is busy, choose what’s available and keep an eye out for what you will need next. Focus on how you count your reps, how you DO each rep. Set a timer, and tell yourself you have to be done your workout in 30-45 mins and no social media, no distractions. After the workout, log how you felt, now, and perhaps set goals for the next workout.
Exercise releases many endorphins such as serotonin, and dopamine, so you can get addicted to this post exercises rush. Tap into that.
13. Time of Day
I believe 5am to be the best time to train, but perhaps training at a different time of the day, which gives you a different sceney/people and perhaps a different energy with the gym.
At my gym, this is how the day generally goes:
5am is calmest
7-830 is empty time as people are usually going to work.
9-12 is an older type calmer population but the gym is busier
1-3 quiet, but many regulars at this time
4pm onward tends to be the evening crowd, younger, more busy, and the gym, has a very active atmostphere.
With that most equipment is being used and it is quite busy.
If you prefer more of a quiet atmosphere earlier in the morning might be best for you.
14. Remind yourself of the GOAL. Tap into THE REASON you workout
What is the goal? Why did you get started on this road to a better you?
Reminding yourself why you train, might be just enough to get you to the gym, when you least feel like it.
Are you a role model for your kids? Does the workout make you feel better after? Are you trying to maintain a certain level of strength and want to maintain it? Do you fear aging? (I do!). What is the deeper more personal reason you do workout?
15. Try something ⭐ NEW ⭐
We all have lulls every now and again, and perhaps taking a weekly break from weight training, and try a different class like pole fitness, hot yoga or booty bare class might add a spark to your workouts and make more interesting, different and fun. There is always excitement when starting something new, so use that to your advantage. You are not completely leaving all your fitness, just taking a fitness vacation and switching things up.
Most times this small break, will leave you refreshed, and energized to return to your regular in gym training.
16. Micro notes & quotes
Post motivational quotes around the house, or where you would most likely see them (fridge?), so you are constantly reminded consciously and subconsciously how hard work in the gym pays off. If you find a quote or word that just speaks to you, time to write it down and remind yourself constantly.
17. Mini Competition
Try to find the most intense person in the gym. Visualize you are competing again them, and try to out work them.
18. Watch a Bodybuilding Show, Cross Fit event, Spartan Race, Competition
Just being around those who are super fit, can re-spark our interest in becoming fit. The energy is usually electric, you start to root for the competitors, and watching them in action, can help you continue to take action on your own journey in staying active.
Put yourself where you would like to be, and be around those individuals. It could not hurt, and it might help get you over the dip in motivation.
19. Facebook Group Responses
I recently asked “how do you stay motivated” in a variety of facebook groups. The question was asked differently in each case, just to see what type of answers would be given. The page, and the post (how the question was asked) is posted below.
Take some time to read their answers, and I am positive you will find at least ONE of the reasons given, (or maybe a few), an extra boost to get that workout done.
Fitness competitive types, who have competed, or want to (so their motivation is a little higher, but that does not make it doing it any easier).
Group B: IIFYM – which is partly what my clients are doing – they do understand their nutrition, and are trying to learn more. Both men & women in the group.
Group C: Fit In Your 40’s And 50’s (and beyond) – both men & women.
Group D: Barbells & Ponytails Squad – those into lifting, just starting out and trying to stay motivated. Mainly women.
Group E: My own personal Facebook Page
20. Hire a trainer
I asked my clients this same question, and they all responded very similar to the facebook groups —> trying to stay strong, role model for kids, it makes me feel good, and also when their motivation dips – they call me. Getting to the gym is 50% of the work already completed.
Sometimes you just need someone in your corner, your Coach, to tell, you, “time to step it up, let’s get moving”.