How to stay motivated and get work done at the gym
A guest post by Adam Ferraresi on staying motivated at the gym. I hope you find this useful!
When signing up for the gym, most of us start off feeling really pumped, motivated and full of enthusiasm, ready at last to truly make a life-changing decision and start taking real good care of our bodies, and this drive can last anywhere from a few days to even a couple of months. The problem is that, with most people, this initial enthusiasm will wane in time if not disappear completely, and then most often we’re right back where we started.
To be fair, staying consistent with your workout is no easy thing. It’s a taxing activity both physically and mentally, and affects not only your musculature but also your nervous system, tiring you out on a multitude of levels. But then you see all those jacked up, healthy, beautiful people in the gym lifting hundreds of pounds and looking like Greek gods, and you probably think to yourself “why can’t I do it, if they can? They must be superhuman or something.”
In reality though, what you’re thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. All of them are ordinary people, just like you, and the only difference between you and them is that they’re managing to motivate themselves in the long term. The kind of results that these people display don’t just take a couple of months, they take years; and that can be a bit demotivating all on its own.
So how do you do it? How can you keep yourself motivated for long periods of time so you can start seeing some really fantastic results on your body? In this article, we’re going to be discussing just that; a few simple, helpful tips that’ll help you out in not having to depend on that initial drive and find motivation in other ways.
Find Exercises That You Enjoy
Despite what many people think, workouts shouldn’t be built on pain and difficulty. Those two things are indeed a necessary evil, but they’re not the goal – they’re just obstacles. The point is to find some exercises that you genuinely enjoy doing and that you’re going to look forward to the entire day, and then force yourself to also do a few things that you don’t like doing that much (leg day, anyone?).
But if you have to go to the gym knowing that you don’t enjoy doing any of the exercises and are constantly in such a mindset, you’re going to want to quit, and sooner than you might think.
Anything can be an enjoyable exercise – a bench press, jumping jacks, a punching bag, even martial arts if such a thing is available to you. And no matter how much you might think you dislike working out, be certain that there’s a physical activity out there that’s enjoyable to you – you just have to find it.
Realize How Crucial Exercise Is
Popular gyms potentially have hundreds of members, but the ones that actually end up staying for longer periods of time usually aren’t those that just want to quickly pack on a set of abs and pecs to impress the ladies. In fact, these people are usually the first to quit. The ones who stay are those who have fundamentally recognized the importance of exercise to their overall health. They know about and feel the benefits of working out regularly, they enjoy it, and that’s why they’re still around. They are aware that activating their bodies is something that we should all be doing, something that’s good for us. Something that most of us aren’t getting nearly enough of. By not exercising, you’re actually putting yourself at risk in the long term.
This can be a much more powerful motive for you than just wanting to build up a good looking body, as it runs much deeper than that. Want to get rid of that annoying back pain? Want to have more energy, get a stronger immune system and get rid of a great deal of stress? Exercise is the key. Once you acknowledge that exercising properly can only bring you good things and make you healthy, that becomes a powerful motivation. In fact, by adopting such a mindset, you’ll be feeling down anytime you’re forced to skip the gym – which is a great thing for your motivation.
Go With a Friend
For the first couple of sessions, it’s great to have a buddy to work and chat with at the gym, as it will make the whole experience less awkward and less of a hassle. If you go alone, you’ll most likely be a bit intimidated and conscious of your body image, and you’ll constantly think about not “embarrassing yourself”. Having a friend nearby can take your mind off such trivial things and allow you to put more work in, and get more comfortable with your current situation in a shorter amount of time.
Additionally, not being alone means you’ll have someone to spot you once you work your muscles to failure, which will give you much better results than having to conserve some of your strength in order to put the bar back in place, without it landing on your neck.
Take Some Time Off
This one might be a little counter-intuitive, but you should take it into consideration nonetheless. A lot of people burn themselves out with workouts when they first start a consistent exercise routine, hitting the gym every day and pushing themselves to failure. This is very taxing both for our bodies and our psyche, and all it’s going to accomplish is make you quit within a month or less.
According to certain studies, humans actually have a limited supply of willpower, so make sure that you’re rationing yours in a smart way. No one says you have to hit the gym every day. Try three times a week, or even two times a week when you’re just starting off, and give it your all. Allow your body plenty of time to recuperate before pummeling those weights once again.
If you’ve been going to the gym every day and feel like you’re hitting a plateau with your gains, it might be a good idea to lay off entirely for a week or two and let your body and your mind rest. People might tell you that you’re just making up excuses and that you shouldn’t take a break because it’ll just set you back, but I’d advise that you don’t listen to those people. Consistency and patience is the key to getting really great results in the gym, not torturing your body every single day.
Use Fitness Apps
One of the most tedious aspects of working out is planning your routine, counting reps, calculating calories and so on. This can get really old, really fast, and it doesn’t fail to frustrate even the most patient among us. Fortunately, since virtually everyone has a smartphone these days, it means that they also have access to a wide array of fantastic fitness apps, that can make all of this significantly easier for you. These apps have become so good that some of them can even sync up with Android and Apple watches and correct your lifting technique, and most of them can calculate the calories in the food that you eat, and provide you with detailed workout routines for you to put into practice.
Word of caution, though: Fitness apps are not all that secure, and some of them require you to input some personal information – so to increase your overall security and privacy when using these apps, you might want to use a VPN or a good mobile security app.
Vary Your Exercises
If you’re following the same routine every time you go to the gym, things can get a bit boring. One of the ways that you can keep things exciting for yourself is to constantly introduce new exercises that work similar muscle groups. Instead of a bench press, try some weighted pushups, for example. Introduce some cardio into your weight lifting, modify your squat by adding jumps - anything it takes to challenge yourself in a different way and keep it interesting.
In addition to keeping it fresh, you’ll get the added benefit of developing real functional strength. By combining different workouts that target similar muscle groups, you’ll make sure that you’re actually building up some useful power instead of just pumping up muscle.
About the guest writer
Adam Ferraresi is 23 years old, but he first became interested in writing when he was in high school. Today he’s a successful web developer living in Dallas, Texas, and one of the most trusted writers at wefollowtech.com. In his free time, he’s an avid mountain climber and enjoys playing basketball with his friends.