We all have those "blah" days where it's nearly impossible to find the motivation to go to the gym — but that's no excuse to slack off or skip your workouts. As inspiring as they are, inundating you with testimonials from others who have achieved the body of their dreams is not the intent of this article.
While looking to your peers can be a fantastic source of fitness motivation, it's imperative that you zoom out a bit and look at the bigger picture here: exercising is not a chore or obligation — it's a privilege.
With that in mind, here are some ways to rekindle your motivation to go to the gym and improve yourself.
It's reasonable to assume that most people go through phases of lacking fitness motivation simply because of dissatisfaction with their results. We all want to be in the best shape of our lives right this moment, but that's not how muscle-building and weight-loss work.
But dwelling on the progress you haven't made engenders negativity in your psyche. In life, you can always find something to be upset or negative about, whether it's a "hater" in the comments section of a social media post or the tiniest inconvenience on the morning commute to work.
If your mindset is to continually manifest haters and doubters, chances are your gym motivation won't last long. Maybe a couple years, tops.
The odds are, for every one person that doubts you, there are at least 10+ people that want to see you succeed and be happy. Sure, proving doubters wrong can be motivating at times, but hate should not fuel your workouts. After all, there's already an abundance of hate to go around.
If you're struggling to find motivation to go to the gym, take a step back and think of three things you're grateful for (no matter how trivial they seem). Assume an attitude of gratitude, as they say.
The gym is a haven for improving yourself. If other peoples' opinions of your physical capability or appearance bother you so much that you feel the need to "prove them wrong," you inherently doubt yourself subconsciously.
You shouldn't even let doubt — especially from other people — enter your mind because it surely is not conducive to success (2). Be confident that you are already capable of achieving whatever fitness goals you're chasing. Use that as motivation to go to the gym and better yourself.
As a pertinent example, if you're in the squat rack warming up for a new barbell squat one-rep max of 405 lbs, you should be envisioning yourself lifting that weight without any doubt. Premeditate a bit; what does 405 lbs feel like on your back with? How strong will you feel when you burst out of the hole with all that weight? How great are you going to feel once you finish the lift and rack the bar?
That's the mentality you should have for all of your health and fitness goals.
Even if you don't have the body of your dreams right now, or you're not as strong as you want to be, that shouldn't deter your gym motivation. If anything, it should serve as an impetus to get off the couch and move your body.
The sad reality of life is that we can't control everything that happens to us. So, what does that have to do with getting motivated to go to the gym? Well, if you're trying to better yourself physically (and mentally), chances are you will eventually encounter some setbacks. The path towards your fitness goals is seldom linear; you can expect detours along the way from point A to point B.
The thing is: defying the odds and getting back on your feet is what gives meaning to triumph. You can bounce back from injuries; you can change destructive eating habits; you can overcome mental barriers that get in the way of your fitness motivation.
But here's what you can't (or shouldn't) do if you want to reach your fitness goals:
Even if your goal is to get shredded for a bodybuilding competition, the look you bring to the stage is not the destination — the journey is. Next time you're just not "feeling" the usual motivation to go to the gym, remember that having the ability to exercise is a blessing.
It's not uncommon to overhear gym-goers talking about their training like it's a nagging chore they have to "get out of the way" before the day is over. That's a pretty loathsome attitude to have about the gift of exercise.
If going to the gym is the "lowest" or "hardest" part of your day, then you've got a pretty comfortable lifestyle. Sure, a grueling leg workout can test your will and mental fortitude, but that's nothing compared to what many people go through outside the gym.
Frankly, being able to workout should leave a big grin on your face. Well, a grimace might be the more appropriate facial expression during a set of heavy squats, but you get the idea.
If today was your last workout, would you be fully content with what you've achieved in the gym? If you can't answer that with a resounding "Absolutely!" then you've got more work to do. And that's something that should spark your gym motivation, not suppress it.
Embrace the lifelong process of continually improving yourself through the gift of exercise. Train hard and have fun. The gym is one of the few places in the world where you really are in control. If that doesn't get your gym motivation back on track, nothing will.