How To Workout When You Don’t Feel Motivated

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Friends, family and clients always ask me “how do you always feel motivated” or “how do you motivate your self to work out so much”, and the truth is I am not always motivated some days I have to drag myself to the gym, and in my mind, I am kicking and screaming.

So I am writing this post to answer that question and give you my top tips on how to work out when you don’t feel motivated.

How to work out when you don’t feel motivated.

The truth is no matter who you are, there are going to be days when you are not motivated, but not motivated dose not mean don’t do! 

You have to develop ways, tools and tricks to get you through when you are feeling down or better yet to not feel unmotivated at all. 

Now there is a skill to master! 

Here are my top ten tips to workout when you don’t feel motivated:

It’s important to note at this point that everybody is different, and the reasons you don’t feel motivated may differ from the next person.

This is not a do-all list (even though you most certainly can do all if you need to)
Identify the tips that work for you and focus on them.

At all times, find what works for you!

So let’s explore each one in detail.

Focus On Why

Tip one for a reason and my go-to every time.

If you have been following my blogs, you will know that I refer to goal setting and knowing you’re why quite a lot that’s because they are the most powerful mindset tools you have.

If you truly know why you are working out, why you set the goals you have and you have made them a priority motivation comes easily, and I would go as far as to say when you are laser-focused on these motivation becomes irrelevant, and elements like drive and determination take over.

Whatever your why is you are working out for you, remember that!

Don't Think Just Do

From years of working out, I am aware that a lot of the time when I feel unmotivated and trying to talk myself out of it all I need to do is start and as soon as the blood starts pumping I become super motivated.
Sometimes you have to stop thinking and just do!

Humans are amazing and intelligent beings, but we are also complex and sometimes too smart for our own good.
Thinking, overthinking, rationalising and making excuses can be our downfall especially when it comes to hitting the gym, and on top of that, we are preprogrammed to a certain extent to avoid pain and avoid discomfort.

Set everything up, so it’s ready to go. Have your gear and food ready your calendar set, your plan set up and ready to go!
Make it, so there is nothing to think about and don’t stop, think or analyse just do it!

Guy sitting at home looking out of the window with his head in his hand

Take Small Steps

Changing our bodies and or our lifestyle has many elements to it and takes time.
When you look at everything as a whole, all the steps you need to take and the amount of time it could take this alone can be overwhelming and demotivating.
Which is why we need to take small steps as we go.

Build it up, one step at a time till we achieve our long term goals.

I go into this in more detail in my goal setting post: 
https://raisingthebar.fitness/setting-fitness-goals-and-keeping-them

Remember every gym workout is a step in the right direction

Woman walking down a beach leaving footsteps in the sand

Build A Habit

If you are starting training for the first time, it can be harder to get motivated.
Exercise in unfamiliar, gyms can be a daunting place, and at this stage, you don’t have a routine or habit built up, and not only that but you probably have to unlearn and retrain preprogrammed negative habits.

Creating a habit is much more than just working out over and over again until it sticks its also about building habit ques the little things you do to get into the right mindset and reinforce the outcome (workout).
Small things leading up to the workout also help to create the routine and build the habit like putting on your training gear, filling your water bottle, having a pre-workout meal.

Create a routine follow the plan consistently and over time, build a positive lifestyle habit that will stick.

*I will be writing a post that focuses on creating a fitness habit and goes into this in more detail

Track Progress For Motivation.

Body pictures and tracking weight and progress are a vital part for a lot of different elements when it comes to training, but they are also great tools for establishing motivation.

When you see your weights going up, your exercises progress to more challenging variations and comparing before and after pictures are all forms of positive reinforcement.
That reminds us why we do it, how it helps us, the positive effects and also what it will look like if we stop and drift backwards.
Use these as fuel to get fired up and push through motivation barriers.

When motivation is low its all about finding triggers and tools that are gonna give us that push to get in the gym and smash it!

Focus On The Positives

One of the biggest motivation killers is self-doubt, negative thinking or focusing on the challenging parts of the workout as apposed to the positive, factors and of course, the outcome.

You need to flip the script. 

Identify negative thought patterns as they arise, nip them in the bud and replace them with positive thoughts using some of the before-mentioned tools like: 

  • focusing on your why 
  • post-workout journal
  • progress pictures 
  • and the positive results from training.

You could also develop your very own list of positive gym affirmations that help supercharge your motivation levels in times of need. 

Fit girl in sports gear holding water bottle and giving a big ok hand sign

Identify Why You Are Not Motivated

Having tips and tools is extremely valuable in times of low motivation, but prevention is always going to be better than cure.

Surely actually eliminating the factors that are causing the low motivation levels will be of more benefit to us?
And I know this is easier said than done, but the first step is to actually identify precisely why we are having motivation issues so we can challenge and work on them one by one. 

Here is a list of the top reasons people feel unmotivated (from my experience) to help get you started

  • Training for the wrong reasons, i.e. because you feel you have to because everyone else is or to try and please someone else
  • Having a wishy-washy reason why or having no reason why at all and just training for the sake of it 
  • Because you have chosen a workout plan or routine, you don’t enjoy or like 
  • You are focused on the negatives. 
  • Or you keep making excuses for why you shouldn’t work or even worse “can’t.” (if you say or think you can’t then you won’t)

What Is Motivation And Do You Need It?

I hinted towards this in tip 1 (focus on why) motivation is a term that gets thrown around a lot.
I mean I have even used it quite a lot in this post. 🙂
But does motivation even matter?
Do you have to be motivated to work out?
What is motivation anyway?

It’s not that I am saying motivation doesn’t exist or that it isn’t beneficial, but motivation in itself can become the excuse and the limiting factor to not working out just because we put so much emphasis on those words.

I firmly believe that as you progress on your fitness journey and you start building strong routines and habits, when you know your why or why’s inside out and you have structured trackable goals that motivation becomes less relevant and passion, drive and determination are what will get you through when motivation fails you.

*Motivation post to come

Track Your After Workout Status

We all know that the way we feel before we workout and the way we feel after we workout is vastly different, and our whole mindset can shift. 

Straight after your workout get a pen and paper (use an app if on the go) or start a post-workout journal and write down: 

  1. How you are feeling 
  2. How you feel the work out went 
  3. What do you feel good about and what did you like most about it 

This positive reinforcement not only helps you feel motivated about the gym but gives you a book of reasons why you need to work out in your own words that you can turn to when you need it the most and when your finding it hard to train.

Man in running gear tracking his workout on his phone with big smile

Use Your Accountability Buddy And Or Support Group

When all else fails, having a gym partner and or an accountability buddy or even a friend or family member can give us the boost or the kick up the arse we need.

*Be warned turning to the wrong person or having an unmotivated partner can have the opposite effect so chose your buddy wisely.

If you feel you have no one you can turn to find a fitness group or a training support group there are more of these then ever before available online but I recommend becoming a Bar Raiser and joining the Bar Raisers Facebook group: 

Click here to link to the group. (please note this is a new group)

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Raising The Bar Fitness blog.
Providing you with easy to follow, EVERYDAY fitness, mindset and nutrition advice for EVERYDAY people serious about changing their bodies.

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