6 tips from fitness experts: How to find workout motivation when it feels impossible

Linda D. Garrow

When exercising becomes a drag, you need to rejuvenate yourself.&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Let’s face it, you began this exercise programme a few months ago, lost a few pounds and gained good muscle tone.

  • After a while, your old reliable workout program can start to feel less like a routine and more like a rut.

  • And now it seems tough to get yourself to keep going to the gym and do the same routines again and again and again.

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain even when you are stretching muscles or doing rigorous movements. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.

But by the same token, after a while, your old reliable workout program can start to feel less like a routine and more like a rut. While, earlier, you wanted to exercise as long as you could, now suddenly you feel like a gym robot, soullessly going through the motions, as your progress stalls and your workouts start to feel like a chore instead of something you enjoy. 

Let us help you get your gym mojo back, rejuvenate your program and start enjoying training again by addressing these five mental blocks that are holding you back.

Here are the best tips from exercise experts, including top trainers and sports psychologists that could help to boost your workout motivation—so you can actually get excited about moving your body, eating healthy foods, and finding time to be the best version of yourself.

  1. Motivation cannot be forced, listen to your body:

    You may want to push yourself through a proper workout regimen, but you can’t really fake motivation — surely not for long. Sonja R Price Herbert (founder of Black Girl Pilates) tells Prevention.com that “Some days, you’re just feeling good, and that’s enough motivation.” If you find you’re in the mood, she says, introduce that positive energy into going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or running around the block. If you’re not, listen to your body and instead take that time to recharge. Herbert dissuades you against pushing yourself, relentlessly. Try to know what may make you feel better and more inclined to find the lost mojo? What are you craving? Is it good sleep, eating well, or doing an especially meaningful exercise, for example—and adding it to your regular routine. “If you search for (motivation), it puts a lot of pressure on you,” she says. “Pay attention to how you’re feeling and let that be your motivation.”

  2. You have not changed the routine in months: 

    Following the exact same workout program since high school is a bad idea. Let’s face it: Doing 3 sets of 10 all week, every week can only get you so far. Intrinsically, all humans love novelty. What you need is a program that incorporates slight variations from week to week. Are you guilty of doing the usual 3 sets of 10—known as straight sets, asks Men’s Journal? We urge you to try doing a varied set/rep scheme, which hits your muscles with varying intensities to stimulate more muscle fibres, or varying your approach to each exercise slightly. Please ask your trainer about Ladder reps, Pyramid reps, Grip Switch.

  3. Ask yourself, why are you exercising? 

    What got you into the gym in the first place? Did you wish to defeat a health condition that was plaguing you? Was it to regain your muscle tone? “Ultimately, the biggest and most important factor is to find intrinsic motivation,” Natalie Hanson, a champion powerlifter and the owner and coach at Corvus Strength Co. tells Prevention.com. This form of motivation comes from within (like improving your overall wellbeing), rather than from external pressures (like achieving a “beach body”). One 2012 study backs this up, observing a correlation between intrinsic motivation and more exercise… try to bring (everything you do) back to your personal ‘why’.

  4. You need to leverage a personal partner:

    According to Men’s Journal, some people work well on their own. Others need company and find motivation in working out with friends. If you’re one of the latter, find a training partner who has goals similar to yours and good lifting techniques. Or let your personal trainer or coach know about this problem. Once you have a training partner, work off each other and reach new levels of strength and size you wouldn’t normally if training on your own. 

  5. Think about the later years and what you stand to gain… or lose: 

    You cannot hop onto the fitness bandwagon and expect that you will have six-pack abs the next day. The pursuit of fitness is a long journey — show some patience by finding the motivation to stick with your plan and soon you start to notice changes. Figure out exactly what you want your life to look like, then work toward that ideal. Challenges only make the journey adventurous, thrilling, and satisfying.

  6. Are your goals practical? Make them bite-sized: 

    Try to set tiny, daily goals, soo that after achieving them, you feel like a champ. Challenge yourself to complete just 10 box jumps or five push-ups a day. This can make fitness feel much more accessible, Alex Silver-Fagan, a Nike master trainer and author of “Get Strong for Women” tells Prevention.com. Those small goals can have a big payoff over time, as long as you keep investing time and energy in yourself. “Progress isn’t instant,” Silver-Fagan says. “One workout doesn’t make you in shape. And one burger or one piece of pie isn’t going to put you over the edge.” Baby steps, the joy of accomplishment, the energy burst to achieve more… it’s a cycle. Thinking in the long-term is more beneficial.

Bottom line:  Basically, keep your workouts short and do not forget to reward yourself later. Soon, motivation or the lack of it, will not be your challenge at all. 

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.


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