You promised yourself you would get serious this year and you would get in the best shape of your life. Chances are you had this same goal last year and the year before. Like most people out there you have found yourself starting your workout plan and then losing motivation mysteriously. So how do you stick to your workout plan for the long run?
I still remember my first couple of years working out. I would show up at the gym, put my best effort (but not training the right way), show up practically every day for a good month and then disappear entirely for weeks or months at a time.
This pattern would repeat itself over and over for the next 2 years or so. I wasn’t counting. But I am sure this is a familiar story to you as well.
This is what a typical workout history looks like:
Workout 3-6 days per week for 3 to 4 weeks straight
Stop going for a month
Pick up where you left off this time working out 2-3 days a week
Workout for a couple weeks and drop out for 3 months
I see this happen all the time, especially when the year starts. Everyone is pumped up with New Year’s resolutions and with a commitment to do things right.
The intention is there. The focus not so much.
As much as we may think that we are focused we really are not.
Why We Lose Our Motivation to Workout
If we are so focused on our fitness goals then why do we quit?
Why is it so hard to stick to a plan for the long term?
We could probably analyze this and come up with many conclusions. Maybe our results are coming too slowly. Maybe you have tried to work out before and after sticking to it longer than usual you still did not see the results you were expecting.
It also doesn’t help when there are many responsibilities that keep us from our goals. Work, school, family or having a social life are reasons that are valid and often stop us from sticking to a workout plan.
Sometimes the answer is not so clear. As mysteriously as you start, you seem to stop altogether. Although many times we all seem to show the same patterns.
Have you ever gone in to your workouts without a plan? Maybe you kind of chose your exercises in the spur of the moment.
You figured, “hey I’ll work on my chest today and maybe some arms. Tomorrow it will be either my back or my legs.”
That is a common approach. One I see often and that I was guilty of.
Not going in with a specific plan is a motivation killer.
Or how about this one.
You skip today’s work out and try to make up for it the following day. Now instead of doing one workout you end up doing two.
But what happens if you skip two workouts in a row? Do you make up for it the next time and end up doing three workouts? It isn’t too farfetched and I have seen it and lived it.
I truly believe that skipping a workout is not the worst thing you can do but trying to make up for it the next time around is the worst thing you can do. This is a huge motivation killer after you do this too often.
10 Tips To Keep Your Workout Motivation High
- Do Not Go With The Flow: As I mentioned above, not going in with a plan ends up killing your motivation. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Unless you have razor sharp focus with what you truly want in your fitness goals chances are you will stop sooner than you planned.
- Write Down A Workout Schedule: I truly believe that this is the PRIMARY REASON people end up quitting their workouts, resolutions and plans. So for example let’s say you schedule your chest and back on Mondays and Thursdays, Legs on Tuesdays and Shoulders on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or Upper Body on Mondays and Thursdays and Lower Body Tuesdays and Fridays. Always create a schedule perfectly outlining what you will work on specific days of the week. Also schedule the days you will work on abs and cardio. Write every aspect of your workout schedule before you start.
- Write That Schedule and Stick to It: The biggest temptation we have when we skip a workout is to make up for it next time. Write down your workout and then follow it as you wrote it. If the plan was to work on chest and back on a Monday, then ONLY work on those muscle groups on that day.
- If You Miss A Workout Forget About It: There is no point in trying to make up for it. Avoid making up for your workout on the following day. Simply follow your schedule. Work on the muscle group only on the day it was assigned. It does not matter whether you missed one day, many days or weeks. If the day is Wednesday then do your Wednesday workout. Don’t do your Tuesday workout on Wednesday or the Monday workout you missed. This will force your mind to subconsciously remind you that you cannot skip a workout. Soon you will find yourself going more often. This is how habits are made.
- Have A Goal: Have a clear goal out of what you want. Be honest with yourself. Is it to fit in the jeans you wore 5 years ago? Do you want to lower your body fat down 2 percentage points? Increase your chest size one inch? Maybe you want to increase the weight you lift by 10 percent. Have a short term goal and then create long term goals.
- Carry A Notepad: Look around your gym. How many people do you see with a notepad making notes? One person? Chances are not even one person is carrying around a notepad. Believe it or not, this is one of the best tools in making progress. Write down the number of reps you completed, the number of sets you did, the weight you lifted per set and how you can improve next week.
- Improve With Every Workout: Carrying a notepad and writing down the weight you lifted, reps and sets will make it easier for you to see if you are improving with every workout or on a weekly basis. Your goal should be to either do more weights, lift heavier, improve your form or get stronger. If you are not making progress you will push yourself to do so. Chances are you will become excited with the progress you make and you will stay motivated.
- Look at What Is Holding You Back: If you are not making progress and losing motivation figure out what it is as soon as possible. Maybe you are working out too late in the day when your energy is not at its peak. Or perhaps you are not eating right, getting enough sleep or not being challenged enough by your workout. Whatever it is make sure you make corrections and adjustments. Often small changes make a world of a difference.
- Avoid Long Workouts: Have you noticed that after long absences from working out you show up at the gym and do a long session often lasting a couple of hours? For some strange reason many people think long workouts equal high motivation. It may make sense when we have been taught that working hard gives the best results in anything in life. Working hard is important, but that does not mean killing yourself to achieve those results. When it comes to fitness you want to train smart. Long workouts only end up causing you to burn out and leading you closer to being injury prone. Long workouts also cause us to perform at below our peak and end up setting back any progress we make. Keep all your workouts to one hour or less. If you feel tempted to go longer than one hour simply STOP and GET OUT.
- Show Up: Simply showing up and making that attempt is the step that will get you closer to your goals. If you are not motivated you won’t show up to your workout. Get over the hump make the effort and do your workout. It takes about a month to develop a habit. If you make that attempt on the days you planned to work out pretty soon you will be on autopilot. Going to the gym will be second nature. It will be part of your daily routine or habit.
There you have it. These are a few basic but essential tips you can apply now if you want stay focused and stick to your fitness goals. Workout motivation is only a matter of planning things out before you start and sticking to these tips no matter what. If you miss a day or stop for long periods of time, don’t worry, start again and do not give up.