Do you ever struggle to stick to an exercise routine? Do you ever go through phases where you are pumped to work out one day, but can’t find the inspiration to push yourself to get up and exercise the next day? Or, have you ever said that you will start working out on Monday, but when Monday arrives, you just don’t know how to motivate yourself to workout?
Life isn’t always a straight line. Sometimes things happen in life that makes it hard to get excited about exercising, and it is okay to feel like that once in a while. But if you find yourself constantly skipping your workout or making up excuses for missing your workout, then you need to shift your mindset about exercise.
So, how do you motivate yourself to work out?
The best way to motivate yourself to workout is to get very clear on what you want to achieve with exercise, as this will help you show up even when you are just not feeling it. Next, you must set realistic exercise or weight loss goals, plan your workouts in advance and build a new habit by exercising at the same time of the day. Picturing or visualizing how you will look once you reach your goal is another highly effective way to get motivated to exercise.
Most people find it challenging to smash their fitness goals because life can sometimes be hectic, and at the end of the day, you just want to go home, eat and sleep. If you learn how to motivate yourself to work out the correct way, you won’t ever need motivation quotes or inspiration from others.
How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out When You Are Just Not Feeling It
1. Find Your WHY
You must have a profound reason for working. Having a why will make it hard to give up on exercising. If you were put on the spot, you should be able to answer within 5 seconds what you want to get out of your time on the treadmill or in the gym. A strong reason is important because it will help you set a solid foundation for your fitness goals. Without a WHY, no workout motivation tips in the world will move you from the couch to the gym when you are feeling uninspired.
Your WHY is the reason you’re going to get up and exercise early in the morning when the temperature is below zero. Your WHY is that thing that’ll make you hit the gym at the end of the day after a lousy day.
Your most pressing personal reason will motivate you to work out when all you feel is like staying in bed with a box of tissues because ‘he cheated on you or dumped you’. Your WHY is that thing deep inside you that makes you say no to running Netflix marathons and instead run to lose weight.
Answering any of the questions below will help you arrive at a WHY that will get you excited about working out no matter what.
- Why do you want to exercise regularly?
- Why did you sign up for a gym membership?
- Why is it important for you to lose weight?
- Why do you want to live a healthier life?
Your answer to your why will determine how much you want it and how far you are willing to go to get it. If your WHY isn’t compelling, you will easily give up and always find it hard to motivate yourself to work out because, at the end of the day, long-lasting motivation comes from within.
- How to lose weight on a budget in 7 simple steps
- 20 Fitness Motivational Quotes with Images
- 21 Awesome Running Motivational Quotes
- Printable Health and Fitness Planner to Help You Smash Your Goals
- How to build your home gym with the basic equipment
How to find your WHY for exercise motivation
Take a pause right now, and think about why you want to know how to motivate yourself to work out. What brought you to this article? Once you have found THE answer, write it down where you can see it every day.
You should look at your WHY first thing in the morning and ask yourself what you are going to do during the day to bring you closer to achieving your fitness goal.
Every night before you go to bed, you should reflect on your WHY and ask yourself what you did during the day based on your why. When you feel you are too tired or depressed to exercise, take a look at your WHY. I can guarantee you that you will always stay motivated to work out if you practice this.
2. Set Realistic and Measurable Fitness Goals
Now that you have established your WHY for working out, you must set realistic fitness goals. Set practical goals that you can actually achieve, and then make sure you eat right and work out often to hit those numbers. Once you start seeing the results, motivation to exercise will skyrocket!
When setting fitness goals, it’s essential to set both short and long-term goals. Make sure your goals are attainable in a reasonable and measurable amount of time and then be serious about achieving them. Small wins will lead to greater victories.
If your WHY is that you want to lose weight and avoid chronic diseases, you should set goals of how much weight you want to lose and by when you want to be at your ideal weight. The big goal should include smaller goals, such as how much weight you want to lose, weekly or monthly.
Most of the time, people fail to attain their goals because they are not realistic. An example of an unrealistic weight loss goal is wanting to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks because you have a vacation or wedding coming up.
Wanting to exercise 6-7 days a week as a beginner is also very unrealistic. If you are just starting out, you must start small. Aim for 3-4 days a week and increase as you get stronger.
Another example of an unrealistic fitness goal that might cause you to lose motivation to workout is the ‘New Year, new me’ kind of goal.
New Year’s resolution type of fitness goal usually say nothing about what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, and how you plan on achieving this new you.
What I have discovered over the years is that people lack the motivation to exercise when they can’t see the desired results. Unrealistic goals will slowly drive you to fail if you aim too high or try to do too much and burn out.
How to motivate yourself to workout at home in the morning
3. Exercise first thing in the morning
Exercise requires energy. If you have a demanding job or busy lifestyle, chances are you will be too drained to exercise at the end of the day. Exercising in the morning allows you to work on yourself before other things get in the way.
Very few things are likely to get in the way of your workout routine early in the morning than later in the day. Working out at the same time in the morning also helps to form a new habit that will actually stick. Once the new habit sticks, it will be easy for you to stay consistent with working out in the morning.
The best way to motivate yourself to work out every day or when you don’t want to is to plan your workout in advance and lay your workout clothes the night before. Here is how you must do it:
4. Get your workout clothes ready before going to bed
Before you go to bed, prepare physically and mentally for your morning workout by setting out your workout gear for the next day. If this doesn’t get you out of bed, sleep in your exercise clothes if you have to. This way, you’ll roll out of bed and be ready to work out. There is absolutely no shame in doing what you must do to reach your fitness goals.
Plan your workout the night before
Planning your workouts the night before is key to staying consistent. If you know that you will only have 10 minutes to spare in the morning, find an effective 10-minute workout the night before. Your limited time in the morning should not be used to figure out what exercise routine you are going to do. Make every minute count by getting everything before turning in for the night.
Stop hitting snooze!
Seriously stop hitting the snooze button. Use the 5-second rule by counting backward; 5-4-3-2-1, and immediately get up and crush your morning workout.
Boost your energy before working out
Drinking coffee, green tea, or a pre-workout shake, or even eating a banana are simple but effective ways to increase your energy in the morning before exercising.
How to overcome a lack of motivation to exercise
5. Get enough sleep
One of the best tips I received years back when I was struggling with workout motivation was to keep my energy high by ensuring I always got enough sleep. Lack of sleep can significantly affect physical performance and slow down reaction times. Poor sleep quality can also affect your mood and make you feel groggy in the morning or all day long.
A sure way of sleeping better at night is to establish a bedtime routine, by going to bed early at the same time every night. You’ll always be motivated to workout in the morning when you’ve had a good night’s rest.
Over the years, I have learned how lack of sleep affects me. After a bad night’s sleep, I usually feel sluggish, cranky, and hungry the following day, and my workout motivation for that day is non-existent.
How to motivate yourself to workout everyday
6. Plan your workouts in advance
Planning your workouts ahead helps you build and stick to an exercise routine. I believe that the most effective way to discover how to motivate yourself to work out is to first learn how to plan ahead.
Planning includes carefully deciding your meals, what time of the day you are going to exercise, what you will wear during exercise, what you will eat before and after your workout, and choosing what exercises you will do for the day.
Don’t just rock up at the gym and expect to just wing it by doing a few squats here and there and whatever you just saw on Instagram or TikTok.
Knowing what you’ll be training on a given day will help you stay motivated to work out every day. If you show up at the gym without a workout plan, you will waste a lot of time trying to figure out what to do next while everyone else around you is busy making things happen.
I have also noticed that people with no plan in the gym like wasting other people’s time. Because they have no clue about what they want to train, they will strike up conversations with whoever seems like they also don’t know what they are doing. Either that or they will move from machine to machine, with no target. Don’t be that person.
Write down the exercises you will be doing each day, and if you are not sure how to do a specific exercise, look it up in advance. If you have no idea where to start with workout plans, you should make use of some of these workout programs for beginners:
- 30-day workout plan for beginners
- 7-day gym workout plan for weight loss
- Best toned legs workout
- Summer workout plan – your ultimate bikini body workout challenge
- How to tone flabby arms
- 30-day ab challenge for beginners
How to motivate yourself to workout alone
7. Do something you enjoy
Not everyone has the privilege of having a workout buddy to drag them off the couch when they are slacking. The secret to motivating yourself to work out alone is to find and do something you enjoy.
Don’t force yourself to start running if you hate it, instead, try cycling, and swimming, or walking everywhere if that is what makes you happy. If you love dancing, join a dance class in your area, and if enjoy group exercise, find an online (YouTube is a great free resource) or in-person workout class and start burning that fat.
Final thoughts on how to motivate yourself to workout
After all, is said and done, the best tip for finding how to motivate yourself to work out is this: If it is important to you, you will find a way! You have to find motivation within yourself. Don’t look for outside sources. If you can’t convince yourself to get off the couch, nobody else can make you do it.
Fitness is about you, and only you have to find out how to motivate yourself to work out, learn what works for you, and then stay on top of that to meet your fitness goals.
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.