It happens to all of us; even those who are so motivated with their fitness routines that they show up at the gym door on holidays when the rest of the world is indulging in big meals and lazy hours spent on the couch.
You are attending to your workouts religiously when, one day, you just can't seem to work up the strength or willpower to get there. What happened? Everyone has a different reason.
The key to overcoming this problem is to figure out what your reason is and to identify ways to combat it.
Reason #1: You Have a Perceived Lack of Time
This is probably the most common complaint. You have your career, a girlfriend or wife and possibly kids to attend to, not to mention your buddies who are always tempting you to go over and watch the game. Life's demands just don't stop, and often, they crowd out your gym time. What you can do:
Schedule your workout time. Start scheduling your workout time into your day just like you would a doctor's appointment. Once it's written, view it as a commitment, something you will have to schedule other things around.
Maximize your workout time. The second thing you can do is make sure you are making the most out of your workouts at the gym. Instead of doing a whole bunch of exercises that isolate one muscle, such as tricep kickbacks, do compound exercises that will work many muscles all at once (e.g. chest press).
Consider supersets. You can either alternate between agonist and antagonist muscle groups like biceps and triceps, or between upper and lower body exercises. This way, you can work one muscle group while the other is resting and cut that "dead" time out of your workout.
Schedule shorter sessions. If you only have 30 minutes, you can still get a great workout, so long as you push yourself hard. You don't really need to dedicate an hour or more to see results. Many times, people in the gym are actually overtraining, and cutting down your workout time might actually provide you with better results.
Have easy access to your gym. Finally, when choosing a gym, make sure it's easily accessible. Find one on the way to or from work and you will be much more likely to make a stop.
Reason #2: You Don't See Results
You've been working out for three months and have yet to see results. This makes you question why you even bother and sends your motivation out the window. If this is the case, it's time to re-evaluate your workout routine. What you can do:
Hire a personal trainer. Enlist the help of a professional trainer who might be able to quickly pick up exactly what to change to achieve your desired results.
Set realistic goals. If you started working out a month ago weighing 200 pounds with 25% body fat, you won't be able to get down to a cut, 10% body fat frame in a few weeks. If your goal is a large one, break it down into smaller mini-goals so that you are continuously making small achievements.
Eat healthy. Finally, have a look at your diet; if you are grabbing a handful of nuts while watching the game or have been knocking back an extra beer after work lately, these will all add up and slow your progress. When your diet is on track, your efforts in the gym will be much more noticeable.
Reason #3: You Injured Yourself
If you've suffered an injury recently, this will no doubt be a setback for you. But don't become depressed about it and completely avoid the gym. What you can do:
Shift the focus of your workouts. Take the time to focus on other aspects of your workout that you have been neglecting. If you've been really hammering the weights hard, try emphasizing your cardio training a little more.
Emphasize other body parts. If you injured a smaller body part, such as your shoulder, you can still perform strength exercises for your legs. Just make sure you allow yourself enough time to recover and seek professional treatment if need be, otherwise you will only increase the amount of time you are sidelined.
Reason #4: You Go to the Gym, but Don't Get Enough Done
This may be the case if you socialize at the gym. Your rest periods turn into rest sessions and a trip to the water fountain usually involves a detour to chat with the girl on the bike. If this sounds like you, it's time to focus on why you're there. What you can do:
Set an amount of time to train. Try to perform your entire workout within a set period of time. Once you get it out of the way, take a few minutes to socialize and relax.
Hire a personal trainer. As mentioned above, a personal trainer might keep you on track. Since you're paying by the hour, you'll be a lot more focused.
Reason #5: You are Self-Conscious or Intimidated
If it's been a while since you last worked out, you may feel slightly embarrassed by your current shape when you're in the gym amongst all the other guys who seem like they've been there for years.
Or, if you're a newbie and don't understand many of the basic concepts, you might feel intimidated by all the different equipment and machines. What you can do:
Talk to a personal trainer. Make an appointment with a personal trainer who will show you all the basics and get you started on a program you feel comfortable with.
Train during slow times. If your appearance makes you feel uneasy, head to the gym at non-peak hours so there will be fewer people around. It would also help to remind yourself that it's a matter of time before you see improvements.
Train with a buddy. Find a friend who's also interested in getting in shape. Your workouts will be more enjoyable and you'll have a spotter.
Reason #6: You Don't Like Your Gym
If you got your gym membership years ago, various factors might have changed. If it's the gym that's keeping you out of the gym, then it's time to look at taking out a new membership. What you can do:
Get a membership at a new gym. When looking for a new gym, take advantage of many of the free offers out there allowing you to be a "member" for a week before making a commitment to ensure you like it. Also, make sure you read up on all their policies and guidelines before signing any sort of contract.
Subscribe to a large chain of gyms. Become a member of a larger chain that allows you to train at any location in your city and drop in as a guest when you travel.
Reason #7: No One Supports Your Efforts
Your girlfriend may be angry that you're cutting into the time she gets to spend with you by going to the gym, and your friends may become slightly resentful of your rapidly-improving body and the fact that you're making them look bad. What you can do:
Invite them to train with you. Invite your girlfriend to the gym and try to pique her interest in fitness. If she's not the fitness type, then make it clear that you are working out to feel better about yourself.
If your buddies are the problem, invite them as well. Otherwise, you may want to avoid mentioning your workouts around them.
Reason #8: You Don't Like Going Anymore
If you are just finding it hard to go, for no particular reason, you may just need a break. Everyone experiences a bit of a burnout or a psychological barrier from time to time. What you can do:
Visualize the results. Envision the results you hope to see as a way of motivating yourself to go again.
Update your routine. Change your workout routine. Try some new exercises or maybe even a whole new form of workout such as boot camp or a kickboxing class. Often, a change of pace is enough to get you going again.
Reward yourself. Buy yourself something you really want after a given amount of successful sessions. Set a goal you can work toward.
Training Hard... or Hardly Training?
Try not to stress too much if you find yourself losing interest in working out. There are so many reasons why this could be happening and most men will experience one or the other at some point in their lives.
Just stop and take a good look at what underlying factors are pushing you away and come up with a way that works for you to beat these factors out and re-motivate yourself to continue on your path to better health and a better body.
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