Workout Motivation: 6 Ways to Bust Through a Fitness Slump

by P S | Reviewed by Advisory Board

Workout motivation: Back view of strong woman towards the sun

Finding the desire to work out can be difficult, even though you know you need to do it. Your motivation to exercise may wane if you've hit a plateau in your progress, your workout routine no longer challenges you, or you're new to fitness and don't know where to start.

Fortunately, we can help you discover that passion for working out no matter where you are in your fitness journey. In this article, we’ll explain the science behind workout motivation and share six tips that will inspire you to ditch the excuses and get moving.

The Psychology Behind Workout Motivation

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a theoretical approach associated with exercise motivation. According to SDT, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is our internal drive to succeed based on our own values and interests. For instance, you may be motivated to work out because you genuinely find pleasure and enjoyment in the exercises you do.

Extrinsic motivation is an outside factor that influences your actions. An extrinsic motivator may include reaching a fitness goal or adopting a healthier lifestyle due to a recommendation from a healthcare professional.

An analysis published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition revealed that females tend to have higher levels of intrinsic motivation when it comes to exercise, while males are more driven to work out by external factors. Regardless, everyone has their own internalized motivators generated by both intrinsic and extrinsic forces. 

6 Workout Motivation Tips to Get You Moving 

Workout motivation: Workout plan in notebook at wooden desk

Whether you're new to working out or need to rejuvenate your daily routine, the following workout motivation tips will help you find and maintain your stride. 

1. Set Realistic Fitness Goals 

Some say a goal without a plan is just a wish.

Sure, you may want to lose weight or increase your gains. But without a tangible, attainable goal, it's hard to make progress.

Sit down and think about what you'd like to achieve and why. Maybe you want to reach a target weight to improve your health, or you want to target new muscles that will make you a better athlete. Regardless of your aspirations, make it a specific goal so you know how much progress you're making.

After coming up with your fitness goal, develop a plan of action with a personal trainer or health professional. They'll come up with an accessible workout routine and manageable diet plan based on your preferences.

Changes don't happen overnight, so it's essential to develop a long-term roadmap for success sprinkled with short-term goals. 

2. Track Your Progress

You finally have a fitness goal in place, along with a daily workout routine and a cleaner diet to help get you there. That's great! Now, you'll have to track your progress. 

There are several ways you can do this:

  • Log your workouts, meals, and other thoughts about your fitness journey in a fitness journal or on a health app. 
  • Take photographs of yourself throughout your journey for a graphical representation of your progress. Try to wear the same outfit and stand in the same room with the same lighting for the most accurate accounts.
  • If your goal is to lose weight, hop on the scale once a week. Daily weigh-ins may be discouraging as weight fluctuates day-to-day. Also, consider measuring body composition for a more comprehensive look at your progress.
  • For muscle-building goals, measure key areas with a flexible piece of tape. Focus on areas where you hope to increase mass. Make sure to take your measurements properly for the most accurate results.

Tracking your progress not only keeps you accountable. It also gives you concrete evidence of the changes in your body and mindset.

3. Join a Fitness Community

Want to increase your drive to succeed? Join a fitness community such as Crossfit or a local rec center. Working out with a group of people who share similar fitness motivations has its benefits.

Exercising with a group is linked to a higher likelihood of achieving fitness goals. According to a clinical trial published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, participants of weight loss groups had a 95% follow-through rate, compared to 76% of solo participants. 

Also consider the Köhler effect, which says people work harder when they’re part of a group to avoid being considered the weakest link. Exercising with other people can drive you to reach or surpass their levels. 

Even if you prefer to work out solo or have to do workouts at home due to COVID-19, you can join virtual fitness communities on social media and achieve comparable results

4. Stick to Workouts You Like

Workout motivation: People jogging at park

Workout motivation is always easier to muster up when you're doing activities you like. If you run miles on a treadmill every day but absolutely dread it, you'll be more inclined to find excuses to avoid working out,  especially if you just use exercise as a means to an end. 

Finding the best physical activity to incorporate into your workout routine comes down to three factors:

  • Skill level, especially for newbies
  • Team activities or solo activities
  • Your fitness goals

If you're new working out, stick to manageable exercises for your skill level and physical ability. You can graduate to more reps and harder exercises over time.

Introverted gym-goers may enjoy solo workouts that help them clear their minds and center themselves. More outgoing gym-goers, meanwhile, could benefit from joining a specialized group class such as Pilates, yoga, or martial arts — either in-person or virtually. 

The previous two points should tie-in to your fitness goal at large. If building strength and endurance is your goal, your exercise routine should include a variety of strength training and bodyweight workouts instead of endless cardio on the treadmill.

Keep in mind you may still be faced with necessary workouts you don't like or aren't good at yet. However, you can make them more bearable. Reframe the situation by thinking of the ways these workouts will make you stronger and benefit your overall goal. 

5. Create a Workout Playlist

Working out in silence may hinder your motivation to get moving. Creating a playlist of your favorite songs can give you the extra workout motivation boost you need. 

Recent studies show music serves as a positive distraction during workouts by:

Alternatively, you can choose to listen to a podcast while you work out. You'll feel more motivated to finish your workout within the runtime, which is at least 30 minutes for most podcasts

6. Allow Yourself to Fail (and Learn From It)

Yes, you can use failure as a motivator; it's an effective one, too. 

It may sound counterproductive, but it's important to realize that a fitness journey is seldom without bumps in the road. You will fall off course due to circumstances within or beyond your control. 

But whether you oversleep and miss your early morning sweat session or stray from your diet during a holiday weekend, you're not doomed. It's possible to get back on track with self-awareness and discipline. 

If you're angry or upset about falling off the wagon, use those feelings to fuel your resolve to become healthier and stronger. Don't beat yourself up and fall into negative self-talk.

Having a support system also helps, be it a personal trainer, workout buddy, or a group of family and friends who will hold you accountable and encourage you to continue working out. When you embark on a fitness journey, there's only so much you can do by yourself, especially when things get tough. 

Forgiving yourself for failing — and then learning from the experience — goes a long way in staying motivated and reaching your fitness goals.

You Can Do It!

Man and woman doing plank in the gym

Workout motivation isn't always easy to come by. Fortunately, there are things you can do to kindle the flame of fitness and keep it burning. It'll still be hard work and your willpower might be pushed to the brink, but the sense of accomplishment you'll feel once you hit your ultimate goal will be worth it. 

Your desire to hit the gym may be lacking if your workout clothes have seen better days. Motivate yourself to get back out there with some stylish fitness apparel. TransparentLabs has a line of workout essentials for men and women including T-shirts, tank tops, pants, and hats.




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