How to stay motivated at the gym

If you're among the few who regularly exercise at the gym, give yourself a pat on the back. It means you're disciplined and have the right attitude about staying healthy. That's not to say, however, motivation never flags for even the most committed users. Here's some advice to get you through the gym doors on those days when the effort seems too much.

How to stay motivated at the gym

Think you can and you will

So simple, yet so often ignored, positive thinking can help you to power your way through a workout that you're just not "into."

  • In one study, exercisers who thought positively were more likely to stay active than those whose minds often uttered those two evil words, "I can't."

Whenever you find yourself making excuses, replace any negative thoughts with positive messages such as, "I feel great!" or "Bring it on!"

  • You might be pleasantly surprised at how well you respond to positive vibes, especially when they come from within.

Turn off the TV when exercising

It's tempting to try to lose yourself in a TV program as you slog away. However, one recent study found that women worked out about five per cent harder when they weren't watching TV than when they were.

  • Although television may take your mind off your workout, it also causes you to lose touch with your effort level. The result? You unconsciously slow down or use poor form as you get caught up in what's on screen.
  • Likewise if you play around on your tablet or smart phone. You'll easily lose focus.

Work out with a friend

If you're feeling stale and are thinking of skipping your gym workouts, ask a friend to meet you for a gym date.

  • As you walk or run on the treadmill, you can share stories of your day and encourage each other to work a bit harder.
  • Your friend can also help you to find the courage to approach unfamiliar gym equipment, as it's easier to laugh off your foibles when you have a trusted companion nearby.

The camaraderie and encouragement of a good friend at the gym is as motivating as anything can possibly be.

Change your routine regularly

It's important to change your routine about every three or four weeks. This will keep your body "guessing" what's next, help to improve your results and fuel your motivation. For example, in the weight room, alternate exercises and modify the way you lift weights.

  • If you usually do two sets of 15 reps, complete one set of 15, then increase the weight for another set of eight reps.
  • On cardio equipment, switch from the treadmill to the elliptical trainer, for example .
  • Mix up your exercise classes as well, switching around from Pilates to aerobic dance to yoga to kickboxing.

If you're unsure about how to mix things up, ask a personal trainer or someone who works at the gym to help you. Above all, you don't want to injure yourself.

Set a short-term workout goal

Of course, goals motivate you to work harder. That's why the best exercise programs include measurable goals to achieve weeks or months down the road.

Sometimes, though, when your motivation is drooping, a goal focusing on what you can complete over the next 30 minutes is what you need. So pick something achievable:

  • Maintain a sweat for 20 minutes, give your arms a good workout or cover four kilometres (2.5 miles) on the treadmill.

A short-term target will give you the focus to get through your gym routine.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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