If you struggle to find the motivation and energy to get to the gym for a workout, you aren't alone! People new to training often feel fatigued in the early days.
In fact, most gym goers don't make it beyond two weeks. Most quit within the first week, while nearly 90% of the rest quit in the second week. This is the most challenging phase of your fitness journey.
Your body is adapting to the new stress. You may not realize how important nutrition is to keep your body fueled and help with recovery. Muscle soreness is at its peak, and you can feel the inflammation throughout your body.
Luckily, this lack of energy and motivation to exercise when tired is a common problem in every person's fitness routine. Whether you are a new gym-goer or a seasoned athlete, sometimes you don't feel like doing your workout sessions.
This article covers some of the best techniques to help you power through.
The biggest asset you can build for yourself, other than a strong body, is unwavering discipline.
Just Do It
There is a time to think, and there is a time to do. When your mind makes excuses to skip training, like you don't need to work out, you're too tired, or you can take a day off, that's the time to push yourself - to just do it.
If you overthink it and try to come up with some kind of reasoning, you won't train that day. The best solution is not to think at all. Simply get ready and get started with training.
Rather than 'fighting' yourself and trying to show your brain who's the boss, it's much smarter to pay no attention to those thoughts and get started with what you need to be doing.
You don't need to 'win' over your mind to achieve the goal; you just need to get out of your head and into your body – leave the battle with your mind for another day.
Set a Time
Another discipline strategy is to have a set time for working out. During this time, you should have nothing else scheduled.
Your training and workout time shouldn't be spontaneous and only happen when you have extra time on your hands. It needs to be a priority, like a job.
This way, there is nothing else you can divert your attention to. Studies show that implementing this structured routine helps with motivation because you will enjoy the familiarity, security, and stability of doing the same thing at the same time each day.
So get out of your feelings and trust the process.
Switch Up the Workout Routine
If you are dreading a particularly challenging workout, do what you feel like doing. If you don't want to do HIIT that day, go for a brisk walk, or change equipment and lift weights instead.
During the walk, you may feel more energized than you previously thought. You may just go back and get started with the HIIT workout.
Regardless, even if you don't go for the high-impact workout, at least you will have gotten some form of exercise. Rather than hitting a PR, do some casual body weight training – and at least make it a day where you got your heart pumping, rather than not training at all.
Your mind will usually want to take the path with the least resistance. The objective is to get started, and your mind will soon wind down. Once you have some momentum, directing yourself toward a more challenging task will be much easier.
Changing the way you talk to yourself can help with motivation immensely. Self-talk can either make or break your workout.
Here are some self-talk tips that will help you overcome mental fatigue and make it possible for you to take the first step.
Implement the 10-Minute Rule
Convince your mind to do a quick 10-minute workout instead of an hour-long exercise program.
Sometimes your mind is dreading the overall amount of work that needs to be done. You might have the energy for 10 minutes of work but not 60 minutes. The solution here is not to overwhelm yourself.
This will help you get your foot in the door, and then you can decide how much you'll take on from there. Chances are, once you get into the groove, you'll be energized and ready to take on more.
Sometimes just changing into your workout clothes can seem like climbing a mountain. But once you get into that attire, you'll feel a sense of confidence. It'll give you the little nudge you're looking for to achieve your goals – losing weight, gaining mass, or any other fitness goals.
Bear in mind, if you want to stop after 10 minutes, allow yourself to. Doing 10 minutes of training is better than skipping workouts. You will still go home with a spike in energy levels and feeling like you have worked your muscles.
You took yourself from a position where you wanted to do nothing and did something productive. One thing remains true – you're always glad you did it after a workout. Remember this feeling pre-workout; it'll be your go-to when you need to overcome fatigue.
When You Physically Can't Workout
It's important only to do what your body can handle. If you physically can't exercise or your doctor has suggested you refrain from working out, it's easy to start feeling guilty when you can't enjoy any physical activity.
Accidents, chronic diseases, and disabilities make exercising much more challenging, but there are ways to get a good workout. There are many online courses and studio classes you can look into that provide workouts for your condition – just make sure to be honest with your trainer.
It is recommended to have a professional trainer if you have a disability or a chronic illness.
For those who can train, consider those who can't. Start looking at your agility and exercise as a privilege. Millions of people make the time, seek out resources, and desire to train, but unfortunately, they are limited due to their inabilities.
Set Small Short-Term Goals
Write a list of why working out is vital for you. Think about why you started - why did you train in the first place?
Losing weight, gaining mass, looking better, building confidence, getting over bad habits, and building a better, healthier life for yourself and your family are some of the most common reasons why people start.
Once you are set on why this goal means something, you can find incentives to keep you motivated.
Plan a weekly or monthly reward system. After a week or month of training, treat yourself to something you love for an extra push – take yourself out to dinner at your favorite restaurant or buy that outfit you had your eye on.
While there is the reward of instant gratification after a workout, other short-term rewards can help you get to the main goal.
It might seem like an uncomfortable process, but it is about achieving a bigger target. Setting small goals will help you get from one week to the next, and by the end of the month, you'll see how far you've come, and it'll all be worth it!
Long-Term Goals and Time
Creating a better body is like building your own business. There are lots of facets to the job, and it requires some time. Nothing happens overnight. As you decide whether or not you should train, remember you are spending time every second of your life.
Do you want to be spending time watching tv or spending time actively working towards objectives that will make tomorrow better for you?
Time is going to be spent no matter what you do. You need to talk yourself into spending it on things that will bring you closer to your goals rather than things that may feel good right now but will only take you a step back.
When you wake up tomorrow, you want to think of yesterday as a day when you worked towards a better future. Not a day where you wasted time that you could have used to get a step closer to your long-term goals.
Having some workout strategies can benefit you a lot in the long run. Let’s take a look at them.
Gyms and Classes
If you've been struggling to make progress independently, you might do better with some company. When you have a group of people in a similar physical condition as you are, who are working toward a common goal and training together, the crowd mentality kicks in.
Plus, you have a team to look forward to working with. You may even make some great friends!
If your gym offers some group classes, consider joining those. Otherwise, you could choose a slightly busier gym where you will get to meet people and have a social life while you work out.
If you have a friend who already trains, or someone that would also like to get started, make each other your workout buddy.
It will be motivating for both of you. You can hold each other accountable, which will drastically improve the chances of both people showing up for each session; plus, you will have someone to talk to and keep you entertained.
You can keep each other updated about your fitness progress, share diets, learn about fitness, and do many other enjoyable things together. Many professional bodybuilders and strength athletes train with a dedicated training partner.
For some people, a financial investment is a good way to keep them motivated and focused on the task. If you have been slacking on your training, consider getting a personal trainer.
When you know you are spending money for every hour with this professional, you are more likely to show up and put in the effort.
Monthly gym membership costs paired with hourly trainer costs can add up. The bill of a missed workout session will have you put in more energy and give you a push to be on time and train hard for your next session, not to mention that you will have wasted someone else's time as well.
Boost Energy Levels
Sometimes you need a little fuel to fight fatigue. Maybe you've had a long day. Here are some quick recharging strategies.
Take a Nap
If you are feeling tired, take a nap. A 20-minute power nap can work wonders for your body. You will wake up fresh and recharged; it is more energizing than a full 8-hour sleep. Have your gym bag and a snack ready for when you wake up.
As soon as you wake up, have your snack and get moving toward the gym. Don't give your mind too much time to analyze the situation.
Pre-workouts are popular with professionals and amateurs alike. While these can be effective, it's best to use them with caution. Ideally, you should talk to your doctor before trying it out. Certain medical conditions don't allow for pre-workouts.
If your doctor gives you the green light, feel free to use these. However, start with a low dose, then work up if needed.
If you are low on energy, eat some nutrient-dense foods. Bananas, unsalted nuts, lean protein, berries, or a protein bar are all good options. Some people even enjoy a cup of strong coffee before a workout. The caffeine hits give you both the strength and the motivation to get training.
9 times out of 10, you will be facing a mental block, not a physical one. However, sometimes your body may physically not be in the right condition to train. If you really feel like you will injure yourself, take a day off.
Otherwise, with these strategies, you should be able to get yourself out of any mental quicksand holding you back from your training session.