It’s New Years Eve, drinks are flowing and the usual suspects of comments make themselves heard. “I’m going to volunteer more”, “This is the year I start my own business” and the most common of all, “I’m gonna get myself fit/lose weight.” Gym memberships typically spike in January, full of eager beavers bursting at the seams with enthusiasm. Yet, come February, these people are nowhere to be seen. Gym motivation has been replaced with the comfort of sitting on the sofa in front of the TV.
I get it. I’ve been there. 6 years ago I lived in a town called Crawley. I signed up to a Muay Thai club, keen to start again after my experience in Thailand. Every Tuesday and Friday, I would leave work and travel to the club in dread. Thinking of the amount of sweat that the warm up would produce alone had me turning off early and going home. Sometimes I went, sometimes not. The quick, easy gratification of a night on the town, getting drunk and hitting on pretty women far outweighted the long term goal of achieving a fitness goal. Of course, when I did go, I felt incredible at the end of each session, ready to take on the World!
But what can you do to keep your motivation up and stop the February rot setting in? How do you find the desire to hit the gym rather than your couch? Here are the top 5 ways that work for me.
Chart your Progress
In this day and age, where random nobodies seem to become celebrities at the drop of a hat, the need for instant gratification seems more prevelant than ever. It’s understandable that a lack of instant progress of epic proportions leaves you feeling deflated. I’ve felt it myself. Seeing the muscle bound 250-pounder curling more than I can squat has knocked me for six many a time.
I first started charting my progress in 2015, while using the 5 x 5 stronglifts program Seeing my lifts increase by 5 pounds per workout provided me with the motivation to attend my next scheduled session and attempt to increase by another 5 pounds. Within 10 weeks my squat had increased by 80 pounds, bench press and bent over row by 30 pounds each and my shoulder press by 25 pounds. Serious gains. This really helped me focus on ME and not worry about what anyone else was doing.
Charting your progress can be done in any number of ways. A notepad to track the weight you’re lifting or reps you’re completing. A skinfold caliper to measure bodyfat or a running app to track times, if that is your preferred method of training. Runkeeper is a great free app for this and monitors time, distance, splits and elevation.
Create a Killler Playlist
Anyone who watches the UFC will notice how important the walk in is for the fighters. Specifically, the song they choose to walk in to plays a key role in allowing them to get into the correct mental state for combat. By the time Ronda Rousey stepped into the Octagon, she was in full Murder-Death-Kill mode thanks to ‘Bad Reputation’. ‘The Champ is Here’ made Jon Jones feel as though he was untouchable.
My iPhone has specific ‘Workout’ playlist. As I walk to the gym, one of three songs will play – ‘X gon’ give it to ya’ by DMX, ‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC or ‘Live Like Legends’ by Ruelle. My mind is now conditioned so that when I hear the first few beats of those tracks, I know it’s go time. By the time I get to the gym, I’m ready to treat it as though it is my worst enemy – smash it and conquer.
As well as the memory association that you experience from having a particular playlist, music can also boost the effectiveness of your workout. Quicker pace if the track has a fast beat. Enhanced mood if the track has a strong emotional link. Costas Karageorghis, a leading expert on the psychology of exercise music, stated that music is a “type of legal performance enhancing drug.”
Watch an Inspiring Film
According to Bruce Thomas, who wrote the book Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit, legend has it that a famous actor (whose name escapes me. It’s been a while since I read the book) declared to his wife that he was going to run the 10 miles back to his house upon watching the premiere of Enter the Dragon. That’s some inspiration!
I’m not sure of the stats, but I’d guess 83% of the Earth’s population feels the urge to chase a chicken or run up a snowy mountain in Russia and scream “DRAAAAAAAGGOOOOO!” upon watching a Rocky montage. Except for Rocky V. Nobody watches that one.
As soon as I watch any Bruce Lee film, or a Rocky film, my immediate desire is to workout. In fact, if you’ve never watched them, I ask you do so and comment below on how you felt immediately afterwards.
Whatever you do, make sure you time the film watching to allow you enough time to get to exercise. You don’t want to get too comfortable with that sofa!
Put your Money on the Line
Nothing helps with motivation like money, especially when it’s your own. Having a Gym memberships is not enough any more. When I’m in the US, I use Planet Fitness who charge just $10 a month! That’s a lot of money to some, but many won’t even notice its gone, whether they attend or not.
I’ve personally never tried this, but my girlfriend signed up for a personal trainer due to having trouble with self motivation to get to the gym. She feels she has to attend due to having paid for the sessions up front. Plus, there is the added benefit of someone pushing her to go past her limitations.
For those who can’t justify that expense (avg PT fee £40/$50 per hour), apps are available which will charge if you miss a session. If you complete a session and someone else misses their planned session, you make the money they’re charged. Pact is one of the more popular apps for this, but reviews are very mixed. Users have reported having money taken off them despite completing their assigment. Sign up at your own risk.
Put it in Perspective
There are 168 hours a week. Thats 8,736 hours a year. It is recommended that in order to see results, you need to workout 3 times a week. The average person will spend an hour in the gym. Providing you go every week, 3 times a week, that works out at 156 hours a year. Or 1.79% of your time, each year. Put like that, it’s not a lot.
I have days where my energy is low. I have days where I think ‘I can miss this one’. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have been for a run, and only 5 minutes in I think ‘I can’t be bothered’. Thankfully I don’t. Reminding myself that it is only a certain amount of time allows me to drag myself through those days. I always feel better when I then complete my workout.
I hope you can use one of these tips to help you fight through the motivation dip that happens to most. If you are an avid gym-goer, are there any tips you have? If so, leave them in the comments section
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