How to Stay Motivated to Work Out

We all have days when we don’t feel much like hitting the gym. Regular rest days are obviously important, but I’m talking about long stretches of time when you feel like you just can’t even. Luckily, there are some simple strategies you can put in place to stay consistent with your training over time. Here’s how to stay motivated to work out.

How to Stay Motivated to Work Out: 7 Tips

Remember your why.

Exercise means different things to different people. While all of us at 26 share a love of fitness, our paths to get here were probably pretty different! What made you start CrossFit in the first place? Did you come to us so that you can keep up with your grandkids better, or to lower your blood sugar, or because it’s a form of therapy for you? Sometimes reflecting on your why can help you recommit to your training.

Celebrate your bright spots.

No matter how unmotivated you are, or how much you may think you are dragging in your workouts, I can guarantee you do something worth celebrating every time you work out. Maybe a movement felt like it clicked for the first time. Maybe you did some big unbroken sets during a metcon. Maybe you kept running when you felt like walking. Heck, just showing up when you’re feeling meh is a victory! Take a second at the end of each workout to reflect on your bright spots. Studies show that practicing gratitude is good for your mental health, and it may help break you out of a rut.

Phone a friend.

Before lifting and before CrossFit, I used to chug away on the elliptical 5 times a week for 45 minutes. I was that girl–the one bent over and bearing no weight on my legs (or sometimes reading a magazine to make the time pass). To me, it was MISERABLE. I love CrossFit, in large part, for the community. Whenever I’m not feeling it, I think about the friends I’ll see if I go and that gets me motivated. I’ll even take it a step further and text friends sometimes to see if they’re going, or schedule a weekend workout with a girlfriend. External accountability is important for me to stay motivated, and harnessing the power of the community is a big part of that.

Think about the non-physical benefits of exercise.

I love the way I feel after a hard workout, but that’s actually not even in the top 3 reasons why I do it. Community is my number one, but there are other social benefits I take away as well. Exercise makes me a better human. I’m less likely to lose my shit over little things when I work out, and I feel like my workouts make me more focused and more interesting. On days when I’m just not feeling it, I sometimes think about how my day will be different if I work out compared to if I rest. That’s usually enough to get me there.

Try the 10-minute rule.

If I’ve done all the things above and I’m still not feeling it (and I’m not overdue for a rest day), I implement the 10-minute rule. In a lot of cases, even a few minutes of exercise will boost the mood (not to mention, getting out the door is the hardest part). If I’m begrudgingly dragging along after 10 minutes, I stop. I don’t question myself, I simply quit. The goal here is to feel good and get pumped, not to exercise because you feel obligated or feel like you can’t take a rest day. Pushing when you’re not motivated isn’t good for your mental health and is more likely to cause you burnout, especially if you do it a lot.

Mix it up.

There’s no law that says you HAVE to come to the gym to work out. If you’re in a rut, try something different for a day or two. Go for a hike or a run if the sun is shining. Take a megaformer class, or go for a swim. Not a CrossFitter? Come give us a try! Mixing things up for a few days can be very motivational.

Reflect on whether you need a break.

Did you know that low motivation is a key sign of overtraining? If you’re feeling not a bit like working out, take a minute to reflect on your recent training volume and intensity. TAKE A BREAK If you’ve been training a lot and are feeling burned out with other symptoms of overtraining syndrome. But even if you’re not overtraining, listen to your body. We want your time at the gym to be the best hour of your day–a truly fun experience. Sometimes, a couple days off can help you get your mojo back.

What about you, friends? Are you an expert on how to stay motivated to work out? Share your best tips in the comments!

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