Top Tips for Staying Motivated in the Gym
27 February 2020 • 4 Minute Read
We’ve all got to a point in our fitness journeys where we have plateaued. The fat’s not dropping off, the muscles aren’t building, you can’t seem to lift any heavier for weeks and your motivation is draining. I’ve put together a list of tips that have helped me push through that phase and come back at it more motivated than ever!
1. Make yourself a programme
One of the most important parts of staying motivated in the gym is having a programme. Ensuring that you know what you are going to be doing each day and sticking to it. I don’t mean that you need to plan every rep of every exercise but, it definitely helps to have a rough idea of what you want to be doing each session.
Personally, I like to have a set number of workouts that I want to do each week. For example, I’d have two leg-days, an upper-body day, a few full-body resistance cardio days and then a recovery swim. I tend not to plan which workout is on which day and then if I really feel like a leg-day, I’ll do my leg day. If I’m supposed to be doing a swim and I’m not feeling it, I’ll move my swim to another day.
A detailed plan of every workout and each exercise is better at motivating some people. I believe that the key is discovering how programming can work for you. Knowing what’s coming up really helps in preventing that ‘lost’ feeling in the gym where you’re bouncing from machine to machine with no structure. Overall, a routine should help you have a productive session in every workout.
2. Change up your routine
As important as having a routine is, keeping your programme fresh and exciting is just as important. I often find that, after a month or so, you’re needing a change and getting bored. For me, changing my routine is finding new exercises, going for a swim instead of the gym or tweaking my goals.
Keeping variety helps maintain the excitement of going to the gym and allows to try new things, discovering the areas of fitness and exercise that you enjoy. One way to find new exercises is to join in at some classes in your gym. Anything from spinning to boxercise, weightlifting to aqua aerobics can all spark an interest or provide inspiration for a future workout. It’s also a great way to socialise with some like-minded people and, potentially, find a workout buddy…my next motivation trick.
3. Find a workout buddy
Often, working out with someone else can motivate you to get out of bed and head to the gym. If you have someone else who you’ve made plans with, you can motivate each other to go. Try to find someone at roughly the same level as you so that you can push each other and do similar weights and exercises.
As I said previously, a great way to meet new people is through the classes at your gym. Often, you will find someone with a similar ability or of similar fitness interests who you can work out together with. Alternatively, having a partner of a slightly different level or from a different area of knowledge, may allow you both to spread your wings and discover new things that you enjoy.
4. Set goals and track your progress
Often, in the first few months of new workout routine, you’ll see plenty of changes in your body composition, fitness levels and mental health. However, after a point, you may reach a plateau. This is where you may start to lose motivation.
This is why it is important to track your progress. It will come in different forms for everyone and could be progress pictures, form videos, a fitness diary or regular fitness tests. As soon as you set a goal, designate a method of tracking your progress. This ensures that, even small changes will be noticed such as a 5kg increase in your squat weight or more toning on your arms. Without a way of monitoring this, these changes can often go unnoticed.
5. Give yourself a break
Always remember that every single session is not going to be amazing. You might skip a session, only last 10 minutes in the gym, eat unhealthily for a day or oversleep your alarm. It doesn’t matter, long-term, if you miss a session here and there. The key is to not let yourself get completely off track from this.
In the past, people have said to me ‘I’ve stopped going to the gym because I could only go once a week’ or ‘I didn’t go to the gym at all last week so I’ve cancelled my membership’ or ‘I ate 3 slices of chocolate cake after the gym so my diet’s ruined’. Whilst all of these things are little bumps along the way, they’re common detours in your long-term goals. Don’t let this ruin the rest of your week or month. At the end of the day, one session a week is better than none or going to the gym but having cake after is better than skipping the gym totally. If you have a bad session at the gym, remember that you still made it to the gym, which is often a challenge in itself.
Allow yourself a break when you need it and don’t punish yourself for imperfections along the way.