7 Tactics To Get The Motivation To Work Out
Some days you have it, and some days you just don’t…
You know, those days where the mere thought of going to the gym sounds incredibly unappealing.
Maybe you were out late the night before, didn’t get enough sleep, are feeling a bit sick, or you’re just really busy with other things.
Or maybe you are just having one of those days, and are just not feeling it.
Whatever the reason may be, getting the motivation to work out on these days can be really tough.
In fact, today I was having one of those mornings.
I hadn’t slept that well, and when my alarm went off for the gym I was this close to shutting it off and going back to sleep for a few more hours of uninterrupted bliss.
But I ended up getting up and going in the end – and you know what, it was the right decision. I feel better for it.
So, as I was finishing up my workout, I thought it would be a good time to write an article on this very topic that all of us struggle with from time to time: getting that motivation to get up and go.
Here are some tactics I’ve found over the years that have worked for both me and my clients; hopefully you’ll find some of them helpful too!
Motivation Tip 1: Have Firm Goals And Know Them Well
For me, this is the biggest one.
It is what will make the most consistent difference to the level of workout motivation you have – meaning that you’ll have fewer of these blah days in general.
You see, if you don’t have a clear idea of exactly what you’re working out for, it’s going to be considerably more difficult to convince yourself to go, day in and day out.
This is why I find it helpful to set specific goals for myself and my clients.
It could be to lose a specific amount of weight over a period of time. Or to decrease your body fat percentage by a certain amount each week.
When you do this, you’ll find that your workouts take on a different character. You’ll find that you are more deliberate while working out, and will encounter fewer motivational barriers about going in the first place.
Of course, the goals you’ll have are completely personal, and don’t have to be restricted to your scale weight or body fat percentage.
It could be that you want to feel comfortable taking off your shirt on your beach vacation in 2 months, or that you really want to be able to fit into your favorite pair of pants again.
Whatever they may be, it is important to spend some time thinking about them, and try to engage with each goal on an emotional level.
Trust me, if you do this, it will add some serious fuel to your inner motivational fire.
Motivation Tip 2: Tell Yourself You’re Going For A Short Workout
Sometimes when the thought of going through one of your regularly scheduled workouts feels like too much, I find that making a compromise with yourself can be just the trick.
That is, tell yourself you’re just going to go for a short workout.
If you typically lift weights for an hour, tell yourself that you’re just going to lift for 20 minutes instead.
If you were supposed to go to run for 30 minutes, bargain with yourself to just do 10 minutes today.
The most important thing here is to actually mean it; you won’t be receptive to a deal with yourself if it just feels like a cheap ploy.
Then, if you find that after you get to the gym, you end up being motivated to do your full workout, that’s great (this will sometimes happen).
Alternatively, if you find that after doing your shorter workout you feel done, then let that be it for the day (this will happen too).
In the end, it is better to have gone even for a fraction of time, and maintained your exercise momentum, than not to have gone at all.
Motivation Tip 3: Get Yourself A Workout Partner
Accountability can be an extremely powerful motivator.
It is one thing to miss a workout, and know that only you will know about it – but it is entirely different if you know that your buddy is at the gym waiting for you.
Obviously, the success of this strategy is contingent on having a workout partner where you both bring each other up more than you end up bringing each other down.
For instance, if both of you really don’t like the gym very much, this strategy may backfire. This makes it far too easy to enforce bad motivational patterns – such as preemptively canceling on each other ahead of time, knowing that the other person will readily comply without pushback.
If you do find yourself in this situation, then the fix is simple: you need a better workout partner!
Try to pick someone that is preferably more motivated than you are – perhaps a friend that has been working out longer than you, and has more developed workout habits.
Is having a workout partner just not your thing?
Well, then I would suggest getting to know some of the other people at your gym instead.
While you don’t want too much socializing to detract from your workouts, there is definitely a benefit to working out with a regular group of people, even if you don’t talk much.
You know who you’ll expect to see at the gym – and you’ll know that they will expect to see you too!
And while this isn’t quite the same level of accountability as you’d have with a workout partner, it still may be enough to help kick you into gear.
Motivation Tip 4: Think About How Great You’ll Feel If You Go
It’s a rare person who doesn’t like that post-workout feeling.
You know, where your endorphins are buzzing and you feel that warm sense of accomplishment?
Yeah, it is an awesome feeling – but if you actually want to experience it you need to get up and go to the gym!
So, next time you don’t feel like going, close your eyes and picture how you usually feel after your workouts.
If you spend some time sitting with that feeling and visualizing those moments, I promise that it’ll help your motivation.
Want to take this one step further?
After you have richly imagined how good you’ll feel after going, immediately start imagining the exact opposite: how terrible you’ll feel if you don’t go.
Feel free to exaggerate it here if necessary – picturing yourself sad, endorphin-less, and it just messing with your entire day’s mojo.
The bigger the gap between these 2 potential realities, the more likely you’ll have the motivation to create the former one for yourself.
Motivation Tip 5: Give Yourself A Reward
Even very small rewards can serve as powerful motivators.
Yup, I’ve found that giving yourself a small bribe can be just enough to push you over the edge when your motivation is waning.
This could be modest present to yourself, or even a small unhealthy treat after you finish your workout. However, if you do this, make sure to keep it small – you don’t want to undo the calories that you burned by exercising!
The reward doesn’t have to require you spending money either. It could simply be that you allow yourself to do something fun that you normally wouldn’t do after you complete the workout.
I would recommend, however, that you use this tactic sparingly. There is only so long that you can give yourself rewards before your motivation becomes contingent upon receiving them!
Motivational Tip 6: Pump Up The Music
Personally, I find that music is very effective at getting me pumped up for the gym.
I can be feeling very lethargic, but when I give myself 2 minutes with headphones and the music cranked up, I’m often much more ready to go.
Obviously, the type of music is completely up to you – but I would recommend something on the heavier side that gets you feeling amped up. Save the lighter stuff for those more pensive, tired, post-workout moments.
And I have seen people get motivated by all sorts of music while working out (you’d be surprised), so it really is all you on this one.
If listening to Vanilla Ice or ambient nature sounds gets you pumped, more power to you!
Motivational Tip 7: Put On Your Shoes
Nike was onto something with their iconic slogan “Just Do It”.
There is power in those 3 simple words…
Of course, you might be thinking, “how do you expect me to just do it when the whole problem is that I don’t want to just do it?”
And to that I would say, don’t engage with the questioning side of your mind and, quite literally, just do it.
That is, get up, get your workout clothes on, and put on your gym shoes!
Your mind may be screaming at you in defiance the entire time; ignore its feeble protects.
I promise that if you are able to get your shoes on and your laces tied, you’ll have almost won the battle and will be considerably more likely to get to the gym.