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The Struggle is Real: Low Workout Motivation

Newton’s first law of motion says that “an object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by an external force.” But when outside is frosty, and the bed is toasty, no force seems to be strong enough to get us out of it. Some days, workout motivation is nowhere to be found, and yet we must get ourselves together and get moving regardless.

It’s just so hard to get out of bed for a workout early in the morning when you’re nice and cozy under the covers. When it’s cold outside (hello, winter!), it’s even worse. However, on the days when you do manage to get up and get your ass in gear (so to speak), you can always bet that you’ll feel amazing after your workout.

Photo grabbed from Aleksandar Cvetanovic

Most of us will agree that the most challenging part of any workout is dragging ourselves into the gym. But, once you’re in there and in the zone, the rest of the workout is a piece of cake. 

There are so many benefits to regular exercise and fitness. You could write an entire book and still won’t be able to list all the advantages. Despite that, so many people still find their fitness plans falling to the wayside. 

So why is this the case and what can we do about it? In this article, we’ll explore some hurdles your daily workout motivation might face and share some tips on how to overcome them. You can also check out this article if you’re looking for longer-term recommendations for your workout motivation.

Why is it so hard to keep your workout motivation up?

Getting motivated is easy, especially when you’re starting out with a new activity or workout program. The novelty of starting a new activity is enough to make you look forward to each day. Staying motivated, however, is an entirely different conversation.

We all know the benefits of working out, and we all know how amazing it feels after a good workout. Regardless, getting yourself up and moving for the first time of the day can still be a massive challenge. And for some, this challenge can seem impossible.

Which brings us back to the original question: why is it so hard to stay motivated? 

In short, humans are pleasure-seeking and pain-avoiding.1 We are driven by things that give us pleasure. For some, sleeping, eating, playing games and even browsing social media for hours on end can bring us pleasure. For others, what brings pleasure might be more abstract concepts such as having a daily routine or eliminating animal products from their diet. (Hello, vegans!)

In our earlier example we mentioned that it was hard to get up and go to the gym because we’d rather enjoy the comfort of our bed. It’s nice to sleep early in the morning plus leaving the bed involves getting up—and for what? To expose ourselves to the cold, leave the comfort of the bed, and not sleep in. The results of regular exercise come much, much later, while the perks of staying at home can be enjoyed right now.

When we lose our motivation to workout, it may be because there are other things that we would instead put our time in, such as rest or recreation. If we want to stick to our goals, we must actively decide to adhere to our fitness plans despite the temptations that surround us. 

Of course, certain situations may justify the lack of motivation, such as when injured. However…

Injuries provide a valid reason to not work out, but for the truly dedicated, there are still ways to work around them.

Photo grabbed from mr lee

For any of us who enjoy getting stronger day by day, injuries are the bane of our existence. They are an inevitable cause of frustration, pain, and many missed gym sessions. Training injuries may come as a result of any of the following common reasons:

  • Improper weight distribution across the joints due to lousy form
  • Pushing your body too hard too quickly
  • Skipping the warm-up and the cooldown
  • Not taking time off to rest

Depending on the type and location of the injury, recovery may take as little as a few days and as much as several months. Whether you decide to train or not during that period is entirely up to you, but here are a few key points you need to keep in mind while recovering.

1. Listen to your body

This point applies whether or not you’re injured: when you move, and it hurts, stop. Pain is only associated with exercise when it’s post-workout DOMS. None of your body parts should hurt as you move them during training, so if they do, stop. Otherwise, you will be prolonging the recovery of your injured body part and risking getting it worse. 

2. Don’t be sedentary

Having to take time off the gym because you sustained an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that you spend the whole time lying around. If you are able, at least stand up and take a walk. Or stand up and stretch your limbs out. Even the lightest physical activity is better than not moving at all.

3. Train unaffected muscle groups

If you really can’t be convinced to take some time off the gym, then at least take some precautions when working out. Make use of low-impact exercises that make use of muscle groups unaffected by injury. For example, if you have a wrist injury, stay away from the punching bag and opt for ladder drills or other leg exercises instead.

If you’re looking for more information on common workout injuries and how to deal with them, check out this article.

What should you do when workout motivation is running low?

On the days when you really can’t find the inclination to go and work out, there is still one thing that we can fall back upon: sheer force of will. It may not be easy getting yourself to move, but believe us, you’re going to be glad you did afterward.

If the thought of getting yourself to work out at the gym is too big of a challenge, try breaking it down into smaller bits. Here are five steps for you to take when your workout motivation is running a bit low.

1. Get yourself in the zone

Proper breathing

Sometimes, workout motivation is all just a matter of mind-setting, so that’s the first thing you want to try to address. Take a moment to pause and breathe before you actually get moving. Shift your thoughts from “I don’t want to do this” to “I’m going there and doing this (whether or not I’m in the mood).” It may not solve the problem of getting you pumped for your workout, but it’s a step in the right direction.

2. Get your gear in the car

…or if you commute or go on foot, get your gear in a ready bag. Get your workout clothes, shoes, water bottle, and anything else you might need and stuff them in your gym bag so you can easily haul them off. It saves you the time and effort of scrambling around to find the stuff you need. All you’ll need to do then is to get dressed, grab your bag, and go. 

3. Make a regular routine out of your training time

Even if you enjoy having a flexible, day-to-day schedule, there is still some benefit to having some form of consistency. Routines provide comfort in times of stress and unpredictability. So when you set your training time as part of your routine, you begin to associate working out with the consistency of your day-to-day life. When you view the gym as a place of comfort, working out becomes less of a chore.  

4. Turn up at the gym

There is a switch that automatically turns on in your brain when you associate a place with a specific activity. Even when you’re not in the mood, your brain shifts into workout mode once you step into the gym. In any activity you do, physical or otherwise, showing up is the most critical step. After you’ve taken that step, it’s only a matter of gaining momentum for your workout. And if you belong to a community like The Fight Centre’s, your buddies will be there to help you out.

5. Get your quality reps in

You don’t have to go beast mode when you’re not feeling very beasty. You should have a backup workout plan—a “bare minimum” sort of workout for the days when you’re just not feeling it. But once you’re in the gym, whatever training program you decide to do, keep your mind focused on the proper form and execution. Before you know it, you’ll be done with your workout and feeling fantastic because of it. 

No matter what we (or anyone else) say, it’s all about how you feel at the end of the day. Everything in this article is just recommendations based on knowledge and experience. Whether you decide that working out or taking time off is best for you is entirely up to you.

The struggle is real, but sometimes, it helps to have a sound support system to help push you forward. We’re proud to say that The Fight Centre is the perfect example of a gym with a positive, supportive culture for people of all fitness levels and from all walks of life. If you want to try out any of our free introductory classes, sign up here.

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