The alarm rings. It’s 7 am and it’s time to get up and work out. Except – you really don’t want to. If you struggle to get motivated to exercise, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re human.
No one who works out every day feels like working out every day.
If you’re wondering where they get the motivation and willpower to exercise, guess what? They don’t.
See, emotion comes from motion.
People who work out every day don’t wake up motivated to exercise. They practice habits which get them in the gym regardless of how they’re feeling, until they build enough momentum that the routine of working out becomes a daily habit that happens as much on autopilot as going to bed at night.
In other words, if you sit around waiting for motivation to come, you’ll be sitting there forever. Sometimes you have to set up systems in your life to make motivation the next natural step.
If you just can’t face a workout, these tips will get your hot little hiney into gear so you can stay on track with your fitness goals.
#1: Make it a routine
Schedule regular workouts at the same time every day. Make them as much a part of your day as showering, brushing your teeth, or eating breakfast, so you feel just lost without a workout. Actually block out the time in your calendar like it was a non-negotiable appointment.
#2: Just commit to 15 minutes
If you really can’t face working out, commit to a shorter timeframe, like 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes every movement feels like torture, give yourself full permission to shut it down.
Here’s the thing – 9 times out of 10, I swear once you’re moving and in your activewear, by the time that 15 minutes rolls around you’ll just keep going.
And if you’re just really not feeling it after 15 minutes – it’s still 15 minutes of heart pumping movement you wouldn’t have had if you didn’t train at all.
#3: Workout with a friend or a personal trainer
Listen, accountability is everything. Line up an accountability buddy to do a class with you, or who will check in with you and kick your butt if you flake.
Even if you don’t feel like it, if you have a friend counting on you, or a paid session with a trainer lined up, you’re more likely to stick with your workout because you don’t want to let someone else down.
#4: Set a goal with a deadline
If you have a goal to run 5 km by the end of March, or to improve your squat weight by 20% by the end of the month, every workout counts. You won’t want to ditch your workout because you know you have an important deadline to meet.
#5: Have a killer workout playlist
Headphones in, world out, beast mode on.
Zoning out to your favourite music while you sweat is part of the reward itself. Good music will always get you in your workout zone – and keep you there.
Create a killer playlist you can’t wait to listen to on your next workout.
#6: Excuse proof it
Get prepared AF for your workout, so it can almost literally happen on autopilot. Fill up your water bottle, put your gym bag by the front door or in your car, and lay out your workout clothes ready to go.
If you work out at home, shove the coffee table out of the way, roll out your yoga mat and set out your weights ahead of time, so you can literally get dressed, walk in, and press play.
Make it SO easy to work out that it takes more effort to skip it.
#7: Remember that NOBODY feels motivated to exercise every day
Frustration about not being motivated to exercise makes you even less motivated. It’s a vicious cycle.
Remember: there’s nothing wrong with you and it’s completely normal not to want to work out every day.
Personal trainers have days where they don’t want to work out. Professional athletes have days where they don’t want to train.
It’s part of being human.
Yet – they still do, because they have a big goal and a big WHY behind that goal.
Feel the resistance and do it anyway. Remind yourself why it’s important to you.
#8: Know your WHY
On that note, remember the reason you’ve committed to this journey in the first place.
Maybe you want to feel more confident in a bikini – or maybe you’re doing this to improve your health and prolong your life.
Maybe you’re doing it so you can have more energy for your kids, so you can improve your mental health – there are myriad reasons for working out.
The key is to find the reason – the REAL reason why you’re doing this. I don’t mean just some arbitrary goal you think you “should” have.
I mean a WHY that is so important to you, it makes you emotional to think about.
Hone in on what that is, write it down and keep it front of mind every day.
The more strongly you anchor your “WHY” in your mind, the more you’ll get motivated to exercise and stay on track.
#9: Think about how great you’ll feel afterwards
Have you ever regretted a good workout?
No, me either. No one has.
Yeah, the beforehand is a pain, and sometimes the during kind of sucks too.
But afterwards? You always feel like a freakin’ superhero.
Your body feels strong, and light, and energised, and kind of sore in a good way.
Your skin is glowing, your blood is pumping, your muscles are humming, and you feel ready to take on the world.
If you’re tempted to skip your workout, think about the amazing exercise benefits you’ll also be missing out on.
Remind yourself how amazing, strong and energised you’ll feel in just an hour from now if you work out.
And then go after it!
#10: If you’re sleep deprived or sick, give it a miss
Are you “not motivated” to exercise, or are you feeling under the weather?
There’s a big difference.
Sometimes, it pays to listen to your body and give it the rest day it needs and deserves.
A week or so ago I was battling with just the worst insomnia. I was getting 2, maybe 3 hours of unbroken sleep a night.
After about a week of no sleep, I could hardly think clearly enough to make an espresso (which I desperately needed after a night of no sleep). Like, I could not have driven a car.
That day, I gave myself a rest day.
Exercise has amazing benefits for insomnia. It can promote a good night’s sleep and regulate your circadian rhythms.
But if you’re extremely sleep deprived, you’ll put extra strain on your already stressed out body, and you may even injure yourself.
In those cases, it’s better to skip the gym for a day or so, and catch up on Zzzzs with an early night instead.
Similarly, in some cases, gentle exercise can help if you’ve got a minor cold or are on your period. It can also improve your immune system in the long run.
But if you have difficulty breathing, have any chest symptoms, a headache, or nausea, working out can make your symptoms worse.
It’s much better for your health to take the day off, go see your doctor, and curl up on the couch for a day of hot tea, sunshine soup, and Disney movies.
Remember: the aim of the game is health and fitness, and sometimes in the spirit of health and fitness your body needs rest as much as it does movement.
You won’t lose your progress if you skip one or two workouts to heal and recover, so make sure to take that rest day if you need it.
Nobody feels motivated to exercise every day. But the secret of people who seem motivated every day is that they set up systems to make daily workouts a habit.
By using one or two of these tips in your own routine, working out will become a daily routine and sooner or later, you’ll be the one getting asked, “How do you get the motivation?”