We all have those bad days where the last thing in the world we want to do is hit the gym. You would rather sit on the couch, watch a movie, eat a bag of Cheetos (complete with an orange mustache), than drag your butt to the gym. Instead of looking around for ways to get motivated to workout, you’d rather sag deeper into the couch and watch Sportscentre for the third consecutive time.
Here are 7 tips for injecting yourself with that jolt of motivation to get up on off the couch and into the gym–
1. Commit to Starting, and No More Than That.
Starting is the hardest part, hands down. It always is.
The work in the gym isn’t nearly as difficult as the mental struggle we undergo to get ourselves out of working out. Trick your brain and those excuses by committing to 5 minutes at the gym. If you still don’t feel like working out after that, hit the Doritos trail.
I can almost promise you this won’t happen though — once the blood starts pumping, and you remember why you actually like doing this stuff, your focus and motivation to work out will return in a hurry.
2. Meet Motivation’s Serious Older Brother — Discipline.
Wanna forgo motivation altogether? Develop iron-grip discipline. The D-word (not that one, you perv) gets a bad rap. You hear the word “discipline” and for most people the first thought is a 1960’s era father, white short-sleeve collared shirt, standing by the kitchen table with a leather belt cracking against his palm. (Or is that just me?) But in reality, having self-discipline is awesome — it removes a lot of the mental games your mind plays on you.
Instead of —
“Maybe if I have a protein shake I will feel like going to the gym in a bit. Maybe. I don’t know.”
“Hmm, I wonder if that nice looking young man actually is the father!”
You get thoughts the run along the lines of:
“Protein or no protein, I’m walking out the door right now. And no, he is not the father. They give it away in the preview.”
Discipline is a skill, and something I am going to try and write about in greater detail in the future.
3. Understand that Motivational Lows are Natural.
What?? You mean it’s typical, even downright normal to feel this way?
Yup! Like just about everything, our motivation to workout is in a state of constant flux. Some days we are on-top-of-the-moon with fuel and fire, others it feels like it would take a squad of firefighters and a crane to get us off the couch. Being aware that it is normal, expected, and will happen again can ease the pressure and guilt you put on yourself when you feel un-awesome.
4. Think Positive With This Little Trick.
Here’s a personal favorite to get motivated to workout: each time you’re feeling bummed and wrapped up in your own self-pity, rephrase the negative crap that is bouncing your brain with this subtle play on words.
All you have to do is throw a “but if I did…” each time you start hatin’.
Before: “I feel so lousy today. There is no way I am going to make it to the gym.”
After: “I feel so lousy today. There is no way I am going to make it to the gym…. But if I did, I would feel like a boss for not missing a workout.”
See that? Nice and easy.
5. Have a Plan, Bucko.
Having a plan for the gym is imperative. Going there and free-ballin’ all over the place gives you the illusion of freedom and living life the-way-I-wanna, but this is fleeting and ultimately gives way to loss of motivation. Without a plan your efforts will tend to be unfocused and inefficient. Have a goal, build a plan, and direct your energy and time to execute the steps along the way.
6. Change it Up.
If I’m feeling particularly low-motivationey, and I am already at the gym, I’ll jump straight into super-sets. Why? Because they get me moving, elevate my heart rate in a hurry, and frankly, it gets me out of there faster.
Super-sets are a quick way for me to get fired up. Look at your workout and think of ways to change it up. Instead of going for max, go for count. Do exercises you generally don’t do to hit your muscles in a new way. Variation not only invigorates your muscles by challenging them in an entirely new way, but mentally you will be more engaged and invested.
7. Track Your Workouts.
You knew this was coming. You must have. Tracking your workouts keeps you accountable, meaning that when that urge to duck out on legs day pops up, your log book is there to say, “Unlikely, sir!” Keep a regular log of your workouts, diet and sleep, and not only will you have an awesome record of your physical fitness, but you will also see patterns in where your motivation lags.
For me, I suffer most on days where I haven’t slept well. I usually work out at night-time, and surprise-surprise, if I am under-slept it makes it doubly hard to shuffle out the door. Simply being aware of this means that I am much more attentive to my sleeping habits, and more importantly, it makes me feel completely guilt-free when I sleep in! Win!
There you are. 7 ways to get motivated to workout. Now put them to use and do work, son!
See you at the gym,
P.S. Did you enjoy this article? My pop culture references? Or even just my nonchalant banter? Feel free to do me a solid and pass it on to your social media fans, and let’s take the scourge that is low levels of motivation and put it to bed once and for all. Or something.