You know that feeling you have when you first decide to exercise regularly and get fit – that drive and that fire inside you? Do you feel like you’re losing that motivation sometimes? Do you want some training tips that may help you keep that fire alive and stay motivated with your workouts? Here are some things you can do to minimize the chance of you skipping a training session and/or missing those meals.
Last Updated December 2017 – minor grammar and spelling corrections.
Training Tip #1 – Log it! Write it down!
It works for weight loss, and it works for weightlifting. Keeping track of your progress makes you more accountable for how you’re handling your routine. When you start skipping those training sessions or meals and your progress slips, you have to write those awful workouts down just like any other day; and that sucks. No one likes to admit to themselves that they screwed up a workout or pussed out.
On the other hand, it is great to see numbers go up. I myself keep track of every work out I do – even cardio sessions. I love being able to log an improvement and see my gains on paper. It is very satisfying and motivating. Also, you’ll never have to try and remember what you did last week, last month or even last year – it’s all there in your book.
I can think of no reason not to record your workouts. You might be able to remember what you did last leg day, but you sure don’t have any recollection of a month ago. Motivation is just one of many reasons to make writing things down part of your workout.
Training Tip #2 – Schedule Your Workouts!
Serious lifters do not let random things ‘come up’ and prevent them from working out. It will have to be a serious emergency before they skip the gym. Their work out is scheduled just like their work shift, and yours should be too.
You already know when the best time to train is for you. There’s probably not much mystery around that. It’s simply a matter of making it part of your day and sticking to it. You pay your mortgage on the 1st, you go to work at 9am, and you workout at x time. End of story.
Telling yourself that you’ll fit it in is a mistake and you are far more likely to find yourself not working out when you do that. The more times you allow yourself to skip, the less motivated you’ll be overall. So schedule your workouts. Have a damn damn good reason for missing or rescheduling. It’s YOU you’re letting down when you skip your workout.
Training Tips #3 – Set Training Goals
This is one of the best workout tips for staying motivated. Set a goal – any goal. I find that aiming high is usually best. It’s not much of a goal to want to squat 25 more pounds than you can today. Set a goal for something you’ll actually be proud of yourself for reaching.
I prefer goals for exercises I cannot even do yet. For instance, set a goal to be able to do muscle-ups when you can barely do a set of pull-ups. Or set a goal to be able to do pistol squats standing on a kettlebell. You can also set goals to be a certain size – say you want to fit into a certain size pants again. Alternatively, you can set size goals about being bigger. Measure your chest or your arms and plan to add 2 inches, or 5 inches, or even 10 inches.
Set your goals and monitor your progress. Seeing yourself move closer and closer to that goal is one hell of a motivator.
Another way you can make yourself more accountable is to tell friends and family what your goal is; and be loud about it too. If you run your mouth at a gathering about how your goal is to clean 250 by your birthday, you’re going to be more motivated to stay on track. It sucks having to admit to others that you failed (especially on your birthday!).
Training Tip #4 – The Buddy System
Schedule your workouts with a friend. There are two good reasons to do this:
First, having someone to train with is great because you get to keep each other motivated. It’s a mutually supportive system.
The other reason working out with a friend is nice is because nobody likes to let a friend down. Leaving your buddy alone at the gym because you didn’t feel like working out is all kinds of shitty, and you’re more likely to go just to avoid that feeling. It’s not the greatest form of motivation, but it does work.
Raise the stakes even more by making an agreement that any time one of you misses the training session regardless of the reason, you buy lunch for both of you. No two ways about it, no reason is excusable. If you miss, you pay. That will ensure that only true emergencies are reason enough to not work out.
Training Tips #5 – Compete With Your Friends
Sort of an optional addition to the previous tip, although you don’t even have to work out with the person in this case.
Set up a duel of sorts with a fellow lifting bud or two. Find a goal you are both (or all) about equidistant from and compete with each other over achieving it. Add in some taunting and teasing and you’re sure to stay motivated enough to complete the goal. It’s kind of like playing a video game only you’re getting fit rather than fat. Keep the competition going by quickly adding a new goal once the first is achieved.
Workout Tip #6 – Mix up your routine
One way to keep things interesting and keep you motivated with your workouts is to just mix things up a bit. Add new exercises and variations. If you don’t do Crossfit at all, add it.
Another way to mix it up is to add other activities that you wouldn’t normally view as lifting-related. For instance, I rock climb a couple times a month. It’s nothing like lifting, but they compliment each other. My back, shoulders and forearms get a great boost from climbing and as my climbing improves, so do my pull-ups and vice-versa.
Workout Tips #7 – Have something to lose
If you’re really having a hard time staying motivated enough to exercise, put some money on it. That’s right, make it cost you to not workout. Pay for a trainer for a few weeks, or pay for group classes, something that will cost you money to miss. Skipping out on a trainer you’ve paid for is a double whammy on you. Not only do you miss your workout and feel like a loser, but the cash was wasted as well.
You could also go spend a fortune on some new equipment. Buy a new power rack, or 500- pounds of competition bumpers. Something that you would have to be a total fool to have bought and then not use. This idea should sound stupid to most people, but there is a small handful of people this would actually work for (sadly).
Workout Tips #8 – Reward yourself
Make deals with yourself. If you achieve X, then you reward yourself with something.
I don’t do it so much with my training but I do it with my diet. I allow myself something really horrible to eat in exchange for a week of staying within my calorie budget while meeting my macro goals. It’s a pretty common thing to do – but that’s because it can help. Try doing it with your workouts
FYI: I’m not suggesting a steak dinner is horrible to eat. I was just thinking of myself when I used the word horrible – I personally treat myself with a cookie… a big cookie.
The Take Away
You should look forward to training. It’s not supposed to be a chore to work out. Strength training isn’t a diet – diets are much easier to fall off the wagon. If you’re having to do too many tricks to stay motivated, you should really think about why that is and try to work that out. Your long-term fitness truly does depend on your ability to stay focused and motivated.
You’re never going to be Mr. Universe if you have to keep starting from scratch with your workouts and training cycles.