So you went out and bought a gym membership, resolving that this time you would make exercising a priority. Fast forward a few months and your gym bag is collecting dust in your closet. You know that you should go and you keep telling yourself you’ll get there this week but before you know it, it’s the weekend again and you’re picking up a different kind of six pack on your way home from work. You’re not alone; even seasoned gym-goers find their motivation waning at times and need a kick in the butt to get their workouts in and stay motivated. The truth is, you’re not going to build your dream body, get super strong, or improve your athletic performance without putting in consistent work over time. As with most things in life, consist hard work yields results. Here are some tips to keep you moving towards your goals (and kicking ass and taking names).
I ALWAYS get excited to head to the gym and have a great workout when I get some bumpin’ new tunes on my playlist. Music can also be a very effective way to help focus your energy, tune out external distractions, and motivate you to push hard. The weights always feel lighter when you’re lifting and the beat drops. Gym time is ‘me’ time. Your gym sessions should be challenging but still enjoyable and music is a great way to keep yourself entertained and “in the zone”.
Here’s an eclectic list of some of my current favourites on my playlist. Full disclosure; I listen to some ridiculous music in the gym. It’s the best time to play your favourite boy band hits, dubstep, and dancehall jams. I’m always having a solo dance party.
Space Jam – Quad City DJs
Everybody – Backstreet Boys
Bustamove – Zeds Dead
Crowd Ctrl – Flosstradamus & DJ Sliink
Fight Night – Migos
212 – Azelia Banks
This is why I’m Hot – MIMS
Throw it Back – Infexzion
Badman City – Kahn ft. Flowdan
Khaki Suit – Damian Marley
Scatta – Skrillex
Shell it Down – Major Lazer ft. T.O.K)
New workout clothes
I don’t suggest that you use this one too often for the sake of your wallet but I always encourage people to get workout clothes that make them feel great, especially if they’ve started to lose weight and their body is changing and reshaping. Get a cool new pair of running shoes and see how excited you are to head to the gym. People sometimes get a bit self-conscious about getting flattering and stylish gym clothes and looking nice when they go to the gym because of the ‘you should go to the gym to work hard and not to look good’ mentality. The reality is, the vast majority of people are going to the gym to look and feel better. If you feel good about the way you look, you’re going to be more confident and motivated to keep making progress.
Schedule in your workouts
If you want to go to the gym 4 times a week, you are FAR more likely to actually go if you put it in your schedule that you’re going Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday after work versus just saying it and not scheduling it in on specific days. Otherwise, you’ll keep pushing it back until you suddenly have 2 days left in the week and haven’t completed a single workout. I see this happen all. the. time. Do yourself a favour; treat your workouts like appointments with yourself and show up. You can probably think of 50 other things you “need to get done” instead; get groceries, mow the lawn, catch up with a friend, sit on a patio with a drink, paint your toenails, whatever. Don’t give yourself an excuse. People are notoriously good at talking themselves out of things. If you’re consistent for a couple of months, it will just become part of your routine and it won’t feel like such a struggle.
Pack your gym bag in the morning and go straight from work:
This one is simple but makes a huge difference. There’s a pretty good chance you won’t make it to the gym if you head home first and plan to ‘go later’. Once you put on those sweat pants and park your butt on the couch, it’s game over. Don’t give yourself another excuse. Get everything ready to go and then just drive yourself there, even if you really don’t feel like it. This is the reason some people prefer morning workouts. It’s over and done with first thing before you have a chance to get distracted by anything else and the rest of your day is free.
Write out a training plan and track your progress:
Never underestimate the power of having a solid plan and tracking your progress. Have a plan of attack, track the weights you’re lifting, and aim to increase them consistently. Whether you decide to work with a trainer, get a custom program, or just find something generic online, it’s very helpful to have some sort of a training program to start off with. You’ll feel more motivated to go if you’re not wandering around aimlessly and wondering what to do next. It also helps you be consistent and it gives you a more concrete way to track your progress. Seeing your numbers go up and weights that you were previously struggling with become easier and easier is extremely motivating. Relying solely on the scale to evaluate your progress doesn’t give a complete, accurate picture of all the changes you’re making. Weight/inch loss is not linear so there will be weeks where you’re doing everything right but your body won’t look any different but the subsequent week, you may lose 2 inches off your waist. There are also days when you’re going to be bloated and feeling crappy about yourself. While this is normal, it can be pretty discouraging. Focus on your training gains as well. Having goals related to the activity itself and not just the physical outcome helps to increase your confidence, competence, and self-esteem and keeps you pushing to improve yourself. If you view exercise exclusively as the means to an end, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it long-term.
Find a workout buddy:
I consider myself a lone wolf in the gym. I’m a very sociable/extroverted person but I really enjoy having my alone time to focus on myself and tune out external distractions. That being said, a lot of people find it very helpful to have a workout buddy. Having someone with similar goals to help keep you accountable, push you harder than you’d push yourself, and make the activity more fun and enjoyable is a great way to keep you consistent. If you’ve been training for a while, it can also be helpful to have a workout buddy to give you cues and tips on your form and maybe even programming suggestions if you’re stalling with your progress. I often film my lifts during my workouts so I can see where my form is breaking down but it can be very helpful to have someone there in real time, giving you corrections that you might not have noticed yourself. Two heads are better than one.
One caveat of this is that having a workout buddy that frequently cancels on you or is consistently negative and sucks your energy (an ‘energy vampire’ if you will), can be very demotivating. While it’s nice to have company, make sure you’re not 100% reliant on someone else to get your workouts in. It’s easy to slip back into bad habits with a little ‘encouragement’. I actually see this most often with people and their significant others. Don’t allow lack of support from a partner be the reason you don’t better yourself. Ultimately, it’s your own goals you need to focus on. Never let someone else become your excuse for not reaching them.
Find a type of exercise that you enjoy
You can have the most optimal workout plan but if you hate what you’re doing, it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it long term. Find something that you like to do or find aspects of your workouts that you enjoy. If you hate running on the treadmill but still need to get your cardio in, take a run outside, pull a sled, do some burpees, heck – take a dance class. Make it fun.
So you used the above tips but you’re just not having a great day. You’re tired, maybe feeling a bit of a headache coming on, and feeling super comfortable planted on the couch. Get your butt up and just go, you’ll feel much better afterwards. You will always, and I mean always, be able to find an excuse not to go. This is incredibly cliche but true; you only regret the workouts you don’t do. It’s not always going to be easy. If it was then everybody would be fit and look amazing. You have to work for it and sometimes it can feel like a serious grind. Expect more from yourself, suck it up and get it done. This is THE factor that separates people who fall off the wagon and people who make it a lifestyle. Do you always feel like going to work? Highly doubtful. But you still get up and go anyway. Why? Because in your mind it’s a non-negotiable commitment. This is how you should treat your workouts. If you’re serious about making changes and reaching your goals, you have to make it a priority. You’ll be happy you did.