Training can be tough at the best of times. But when you’ve got a lot going on, it can be extra hard to stay committed.
The good news is there are ways to pump yourself up for training even when you’re not in the mood. Here's how you can stay on track and meet your training goals when you find yourself losing motivation.
Why you may feel unmotivated to train
First thing — it's OK to lose motivation. It happens to nearly everyone at some point. The good news is it’s possible to get your inspiration back even after a little lapse. The key is understanding why.
There are many reasons why people fall off track with exercise. The usual suspects are a lack of time or money, dwindling interest, and a lack of social support.
These reasons can be real or perceived, meaning you might think you have less time than you actually do, due to other commitments taking up headspace.
One way to respond to this lack of motivation is to simply power through, and go to the gym or do another activity to help kickstart it.
If this doesn’t work and your lack of motivation continues, it might be worth looking at your training programme and assessing how it’s going. A sustained drop in enthusiasm could be down to a lack of progress.
It’s not unusual for visible results to slow down after an initial boom — but this can dampen some people’s motivation to keep up their training.
The opposite can also be true. Sometimes when you reach a major milestone, you can be unsure what the next goal should be. The best thing to do in this instance is to be prepared, with short, medium and long-term goals.
Sticking to the same old workout can have a similar effect. Even if you’re challenging yourself with heavier weights, doing the same thing over and over again can feel repetitive. This is why you should try out new movements to inject some variety into your training routine.
Other commitments can also hinder your desire to go the gym. Real life — family, friends, work, — can take up a lot of time in the schedule. Sometimes, after a busy, or stressful, day, the last thing you want to do is head out to the gym. That’s understandable, but it might be worth getting in some form of exercise to stay on track.
Finally, the support of friends and family shouldn’t be underestimated. Encouragement from the people closest to you can be one of the best motivators when you’re lacking self-motivation.
Is it normal to lose gym motivation?
Losing motivation is completely normal, especially when it comes to fitness. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life, and it’s the same for training.
So don’t be disheartened if you do have a blip and miss a session or two. Your overall progress won’t be affected by a single day or week of training, but by the dedication you show over a long period.
Just be consistent and fair to yourself. If your motivation dips, take a step back and think about what the reason might be. After that, you can make an informed decision on the best course of action to get back on track.
You might want to make some changes to your lifestyle, shake up your routine, or rethink your goals. These periods of reflection are a really valuable opportunity to take stock and change things up if needed.
8 tips to help you to stay motivated to exercise
1. Write down your goals
Your goals should be specific, measurable and achievable. Write them down and pin them up somewhere you can see to help you stay accountable.
2. Track your progress
Monitoring your progress allows you to easily see your improvements gives you something to look back on and see how far you've come while showing you what you still need to do.
3. Have a plan
Sticking to a plan removes the need to make decisions on the spot when you arrive at the gym. Instead, you can focus on just doing what you need to do that day, channelling your energy to where it’s needed.
4. Share your goals with family and friends
Keeping people up to date about your progress adds a layer of accountability to your efforts and extra incentive to stay on track. You can do this in real life or online — just be mindful of potential negative feedback on social media and its impact on your motivation.
5. Hire a personal trainer
If you lack confidence or have hit a plateau, hiring a PT to give you some professional guidance can be a big boost. A good PT will hold you accountable, provide motivation, and help you progress.
6. Find a new class, club, or location
Boredom can kill motivation. If you find yourself uninspired, it might be time to try a change of scenery. Go to a different gym or run in a different park. You could also meet new people and challenge yourself by joining a sports team, running club, or gym class.
7. Buy some new workout gear
Personally, one way I motivate myself is by purchasing new gear. It might be a little bit of the placebo effect, but I always feel like I perform better when wearing something for the first time.
8. Find a gym buddy
Solo training can be lonely and tough, especially if you struggle to maintain consistency or feel like you're not exercising as much as you planned. Having someone with you, even if they’re not doing the exact same training as you, can provide the much-needed motivation you need to stay on track.
Take Home Message
Losing motivation happens to most people at one point or another, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There are plenty of good reasons why life sometimes gets in the way, so being prepared for these obstacles is the best way to stay on track when you’re not feeling up to it.
If you feel your motivation slipping away, use it as an opportunity to have a rethink. Identify what the issues are and what you need to do to stay on track. Just try not to be too hard on yourself — exercise is something you should enjoy and look forward to.
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Simon started his fitness journey from a young age, and was playing sport as soon as he could roll a ball. This pushed him to compete in a variety of sports from rugby to squash.
After completing an MSc in Strength & Conditioning, alongside a PT qualification, he gained an academic role at the University of Chester. From lecturing to research-based studies, his applied role caters to both team and individual sports.