The Pain-Free Guide to Motivation

The Pain-Free Guide to Motivation

Ever wondered how people stay motivated in their fitness routines? FYI: most people don't. It's not always natural, and it often takes effort and active maintenance.

Want to learn some tips and tricks for manufacturing motivation? Check out Mariah Heller's guest post on Breaking Muscle below. 

Click here for the original article! Breaking Muscle - The Pain Free Guide to Motivation


It is a common misconception that fit people are all naturally self-motivated. In my eight years of coaching, I have met only a handful of people that feel genuinely energetic and look forward to their workouts on a daily basis. There are legit reasons for skipping your workout, such as illness or extreme sleep deprivation.

But what about the days we just aren’t feeling it? For a large majority of us—yes, even your coaches and fitness idols—have to dig up that motivation in any way we can. How, then, does one stay consistent with a routine? Here are a handful of tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.

How to Harness Your Motivation

  1. Get a workout buddy. I know it’s cliche, but it helps. Knowing that there is someone counting on your presence and holding you accountable can do wonders for your consistency in the gym.
  2. Take classes. I have a strong suspicion that part of the reason the class-based model has become so popular in the last few years is the accountability aspect; when you commit to and pay for classes, you are committing to showing up not only for yourself but for the class trainer and the other participants. As an added bonus if your gym has a class reservation system, book your classes in advance; this pre-planning will help you stick to a schedule, and also holds you responsible for canceling or rescheduling any planned classes or sessions.
  3. Keep a workout journal. This sounds silly but has been a game changer for me. Rather than focusing my journal on my workouts themselves (though they are included), I write down how I am feeling before and after my workout. As a gym owner, trainer, massage therapist, et al. I often will have a pre-workout entry like “feel tired, headachey, and unmotivated. Going to try to get through the warm-up and if I don’t feel better, I will call it a day.” In nearly all cases, my post-workout entry is something like “head feels clearer and I feel more energetic. Happy I worked out.” When I am struggling to find the motivation to work out, reading those pre and post workout notes helps me tremendously.
  4. Set small, short-term goals. And I mean small, short-term goals. Not feeling motivated? Tell yourself that you’ll just drive to the gym, just drive there. Then tell yourself to get through the warm-up, just the warm-up. If you still feel tired or uneasy, you can stop. Next thing you know, you’ll be done. And you’ll be glad you did it.
  5. Look at pictures. Progress pictures of you, progress pics of other people, pictures of you in that bikini you love, pictures of some of your fitness role models in the gym.
  6. Listen to some “pump up” music.
  7. Drink a small amount of caffeine or pre-workout supplement.

Remember, any time you spend moving is an accomplishment. After you’re done with your workout, congratulate and acknowledge yourself. Then get ready to do it again tomorrow.

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