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10 Awesome Tips to Help You Stay Motivated and Push Through a Tough Workout

Are You Finding it Difficult to Stay Motivated?

Stay MotivatedDo you need some awesome tips to help you get through challenging workouts? In this article, I am going to give you ten tips that help when your workouts are getting you down.

You started the New Year with a bang; you joined a gym and are exercising with consistency! Congratulations! However, now you are finding it difficult to stay motivated and push through those difficult days at the gym.

Are you finding when you hop on the treadmill to start your warm up, a little voice in the back of your mind starts to say “I don’t want to do this today.”?  Do you feel a sudden sense of deflation and your energy is all but gone? Don’t despair, everybody has this thought now and again! Don’t beat yourself up! At that moment you can give up, or you can push through. How? It is important to hit the gym with a well laid out plan to stop the voices in your head that are telling you to quit.

Here are ten awesome strategies that will help push you through a tough workout.

1. Remember Your Goals

When you are trying to meet a goal, but find you lack motivation, try to get a visual reminder that will keep you on track and allow you to stay motivated. Visual reminders can be as simple as an elastic band around your wrist or as intricate as a lavish vacation you are planning once you reach your goal (be specific such as I am going to wear a bikini in Bora Bora).

I write out specific goals with clients and for each goal have them put a visual image to the goal. I want to get stronger would be too open-ended with nothing to qualify whether you are going to meet your goal. Instead of writing out a goal as “I want to be stronger”, I would have the client tell me something specific such as “I want to do 20 push ups”, rather than “I want to lose weight.” I would request my client to pick a pant size she wants to fit into (when they were in what they considered to have been top shape). “I want to have more energy”, could be “I want to have the energy at the end of my workday to workout” or “I want to feel alert and not drowsy at 3:00 pm”.

Another way to set specific goals and stay motivated is to sign up for a particular event such as a marathon, triathlon or strength competition for amateurs. Most events will post programs specific to their event (check out the Tough Mudder website, for example).  These set programs will help you to develop the habit of working out by having a template to follow. Keep in mind, if you are a novice, it is a good idea to hire a personal trainer to review and teach you how to do the exercises with proper form, and reduce your risk of injuries.

Once goals and patterns are set, and you start to see progress, you may find that going to the gym will become a desired habit, rather than a chore.

2. Visualization – See Your Success as You Train

Talk to top athletes, and they will tell you that when they are having problems with pushing through a workout because of fatigue or lack of motivation, they visualize themselves winning their race. Draw on past or future events to help stay motivated as you train.

3. Make Activities Time Specific

When you don’t have a specified workout time, doing any activity can seem onerous. Schedule exactly when you will “Hit the gym”, and break it down into individual tasks. Warm up 5 minutes, weight training 35 minutes, cardio 20 minutes and stretching 10 minutes. Stepping into the gym and thinking “Oh no I have to be here for 60 minutes” seems much more overwhelming than having set time limits for each activity.

Another trick to stay motivated, when you schedule specific activities, is to have a music list for each activity, so it matches the tempo and time limit. When you know where you are in your playlist, it gives you a goal to work toward for that segment. Instead of being “Ugh 10 minutes left”, it can become “Only three songs left”, and you can enjoy the music as you finish up. Making playlists may sound time-consuming, but it makes a workout much more pleasurable and gives you a natural rhythm to follow.

4. Go with the Flow

Everyone has a day when they are feeling off. You went to bed late and got up early because you had a deadline at work. You had a longer than usual run over the weekend and didn’t feel totally recovered yet. Females could be having “that time of the month”. You could be recovering from an illness. There are a number of reasons that are valid and make activity feel harder than on other days. You may notice your heart rate is 5 or 10 beats higher than normal or you may still be sore from your last workout.

Sometimes your body is telling you that you need to scale back your workout and tailor it to your fatigue levels to prevent injury. Keep moving to maintain your momentum for staying on task and developing the habit of working out. On a day when you are particularly fatigued, may be a good day to focus on stretching and foam rolling. You could go to a Yin Yoga class or Restorative Yoga instead of the gym. You could also take it as a day to do a long, low-intensity cardio workout such as going for a hike in a place that makes you feel good. Make those days enjoyable so your mind understands the body can move and it can still feel good.

On the other end of the spectrum, when you go to the gym and feel extremely energetic, take that time to do high-intensity intervals or push yourself to increase the weights or reps in your resistance training. It is on these days that you leave feeling proud of yourself and victorious.

5. Divert Your Attention

When you know you are going to be doing an extra-long run or ride for endurance training, utilize this time by working on projects mentally.  You could plan your next workout program, plan next week’s meals, plan your schedule for the upcoming year, listen to an inspirational audiobook, review things that are currently bothering you and work on resolutions, or make a plan for your perfect vision board. Whatever you are doing to distract yourself, try to have the duration of your activity match the length of your mental project.

6. Get a Workout Buddy

There are several reasons that a buddy can help you stay motivated on days that you don’t feel like working out. Most people find working out to be a much more pleasurable experience when they have someone to distract them. Individuals who are new to exercise also find it less intimidating to walk into a gym when they have a friend with them. It is also more motivating to get to the gym when you have someone that is holding you accountable by being there waiting for you. If you don’t have someone who can go to the gym with you, have a workout buddy online that you can report to through social media, email or an app (that keeps track of activity). Make it fun by adding some fun competition with your buddy. Who runs faster? Who lifts heavier? Who ran longer or took more steps. Whatever motivates you to move!

7. Make an Appointment with Yourself

Schedule your time at the gym or outdoor activities as an appointment. Make working out a priority and schedule other events around your workouts. Look at your work schedule at the beginning of the week and plot out the best times for training. Once you make your plan, keep it as a non-negotiable time that doesn’t get changed for anything.

8. Book Non-Refundable Classes

The majority of gyms, whether they are big or small, have an abundance of classes available to try. When you are feeling a little down or find yourself getting demotivated, stay motivated by booking some classes that force you to show up. The best idea is to book into a series of classes that won’t refund you if you don’t come. No one likes to lose money!

9. Hire an Amazing, Elite Personal Trainer

Many people are under the misconception that when they hire a personal trainer, they must pay significant fees to see a trainer several times a week. Elite personal trainers want to work with clients that are motivated to workout on their own.  Many people hire a trainer just to develop programs for them, and then workout on their own time. Programs should be revised once every three to four weeks. Have your instructor review your program with you and then work out on your own. Other individuals who want to be held accountable will work out with their trainer more often and have email check-ins to ensure they are staying on track.  Being answerable to a coach keeps most people on point.

10. Make Yourself a Priority

Similar to going to the spa, getting your nails done or getting a massage; working out is time for “you”. Realize that this is time to improve your health and wellbeing. Many fitness enthusiasts use this as a time of self-reflection or as “active meditation”. Remember that time in the gym is all about you and it gives you time to de-stress, time to reflect on your day and change your mood before you go home to your family.

Remember working out is supposed to be about you and it helps to make you the best you! When you step into the gym with an attitude of not wanting to be there or you are feeling unmotivated tell yourself that you are worth it! Working out is not only about a healthy body, but also about a healthy mind! Try out these awesome tips and feel free to leave messages on our social channels with your techniques of pushing through a tough workout and how you motivate yourself!

Cathie Glennon ~ BCRPA/SFL, Rehabilitation Specialist, Pharm Tech (Level 3)

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