The Betterment Project

Gym Motivation: How To Stay When You Really Want To Leave

Your motivation is the invisible force that drives you to reach your goals. 


However, when it comes to hitting the gym, your motivation may not be as high as you want. The result? Your fitness goals take a hit. 


Fortunately, there are many strategies you can use to help you get motivated to hit the gym — and to stay when you get there. 


In this guide from ASYSTEM, we’ll go over eight proven strategies for boosting workout motivation and explain why they’re so effective. Read on for a surefire way to get your fitness on track. 

 

1. Ask Yourself: “Why?” 

If you don’t have a good reason for exercising, it will always feel like something you “have to do.” And let’s face it: No one likes being forced into anything — especially if they can’t see the benefit of doing it. 


Give yourself some intrinsic motivation (something that feels personally rewarding to you) by focusing on the things that drive you to work out. You can visualize your ideal physique, all the amazing things exercise will do for your brain, or the ability to stay healthy well into late adulthood. 


You can also let fear be your motivator. After all, studies associate lack of exercise with many chronic health conditions. This includes up to 35 distinct conditions, such as obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. When you consider all the health problems you can prevent with exercise, it becomes clear why you should regularly hit the gym. 


However, don’t think that intrinsic motivation is the best type of motivation. 


Studies show that extrinsic motivation (motivation due to external factors) can be just as effective in getting you to exercise. For instance, making a gym date with a friend will make you less likely to skip out on your workout. After all, no one likes to leave their friends hanging. 

 

2. Start Small (Because Something Is Better Than Nothing)

You may not be hitting the gym as often as you’d like because you’re setting too-high standards for your workout. 


Of course, we’d love to follow the workout routine that our favorite celebrity used to get shredded in one month. However, most of us do not have the time (nor the team of personal trainers) to help us stick to it. And if you’re new to working out, starting an intense workout routine can be just too hard. 


Remember: If a workout routine is so perfect that you don’t do it, it’s not perfect. If you have a perfectionist living inside of you that keeps you from working out because your workout isn’t ideal, you have to shut it down to get your motivation up.


To make your workouts feel more manageable, start with small bursts of activity that feel doable for you. This can be a 10-minute walk on the treadmill or a 1-hour cycling class, depending on your fitness level. Over time, as your fitness increases, you can slowly add to your workouts (in time or intensity).


And if you’re having a bad day and can only muster up a fraction of what you’re used to, you should still pat yourself on the back. After all, when it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing.

 

3. Do What You Love 

As much as your favorite fitness guru swears by high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting, it may not be for you. Instead of a grueling workout, you may prefer something more fun, such as dance. However, forcing yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right may make you feel like doing nothing. 


We’re all different and find pleasure in different workouts. Thankfully, there are more than enough options from which to choose. Whether it’s gentle yoga, outdoor cycling, or hip-hop cardio, it’s best to choose to do the type of workout that you can’t get enough of. 


If it’s fun, you won’t feel like you have to force yourself to work out; instead, you’ll find yourself unable to wait to get your next sweat session in.

 

4. Stay True to Your Sleep Type 

For some reason, our culture portrays fitness as something to be done at the crack of dawn. Sure, we get the appeal of waking up while the whole world sleeps and being done with (arguably) the hardest part of your day before breakfast. However, doing this can be downright torture for some people.


We all have a unique sleep chronotype that determines when we have the most energy. For some of us, this can be morning, which makes 6 a.m. workouts realistic. However, if we don’t come alive until nighttime, then forcing ourselves to go to bed early so that we can wake up early is a recipe for disaster. 


The best thing you can do is stay true to yourself and discover your sleep chronotype. In other words, does your energy peak in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Whatever it is, try to schedule your workouts around that time for peak performance. 


We promise, there’s nothing wrong with working out at midnight — as long as that's when motivation hits you!

 

5. Enlist Your Friends 

Not only is working out with friends fun, but it can provide you with the accountability you need to show up to the gym. Studies show that those with a “workout buddy” are much more likely to hit their fitness goals than those who hit the gym solo. 


However, keep in mind: Some friends can hinder your gym progress. 


If your friend has never stepped foot in the gym while you’re a seasoned athlete, they can make it harder for you to focus on your workout. Before you schedule a gym date with your friends, make sure that you’re all at about the same fitness level. 

 

6. Listen to Upbeat Music 

If you’re not listening to music yet, then you’re seriously missing out on its benefits for your performance. Studies show that listening to high-tempo music makes workouts more fun and can make you push yourself harder. 


Researchers think that it may be because music stimulates a part of your brain responsible for movement. When you stimulate it with upbeat music, your body may be more likely to move in beat, increasing the speed and intensity of repetitive movements. 


At the very least, music can be a pleasant distraction from your grueling workouts. 


To hype yourself up before hitting the gym, make a workout playlist with your favorite high-energy songs. Make sure to upgrade it regularly (preferably before each gym session) so you have something to look forward to every time. 

 

7. Take a Pre-Workout Supplement 

There are many pre-workout supplements on the market. Despite their differences in ingredients, they work in essentially the same way: By stimulating your brain and body.


This not only increases your physical performance. Studies show that pre-workout supplements can improve your energy, mood, and focus. This has a variety of psychological benefits, such as an increase in how much you enjoy your workout and the desire to release all that energy. 


The result? A huge increase in your gym motivation.


To be safe, we recommend sticking to all-natural ingredients. Our personal favorite is caffeine.


A potent stimulant, caffeine has been shown to improve everything from mood to cognitive function to energy. This is why some of ASYSTEM’s supplements contain small amounts of this ingredient.  

 

8. Be Positive 

Having positive thoughts and emotions is a much more powerful way to instill change than being negative. You can apply this principle to every facet of your fitness.


For instance, instead of seeing the gym as an obligation that you have to get through, try to perceive it as a privilege. After all, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to do physical activity.


You can even view motivation in a similar way. Instead of telling yourself that you lack motivation, try to find the ways in which you do have motivation. For instance, instead of telling yourself that you don’t have any desire to hit the gym, remind yourself that thinking about exercise shows that you care about your fitness and want to work out.


We promise that positive thinking will improve your mood, self-esteem, and perception of the gym. In combination, this can be just what you need to boost your motivation. 

 

Takeaways 

If limited motivation keeps you from reaching your fitness goals, then you have plenty of options for boosting it. You can find a workout that you love, get some help with a pre-workout supplement, and focus on fostering a positive mindset. We promise that — in no time — you’ll start looking forward to going to the gym.

 

To support the other aspects of your health, ASYSTEM will be right here with natural supplements that have been clinically proven to boost your wellness. 


Our Sources: 

Physical Activity and Brain Health | PMC

Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases | PMC

The role of chronotype in the interaction between the alerting and the executive control networks | Scientific Reports 

A new exercise partner is the key to exercising more | ScienceDaily

High tempo music prolongs high intensity exercise | PMC

Meet our Experts

This article has been reviewed by members of our Scientific Advisory Board.

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