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7 Secrets to Get Motivated for a Workout

Dave Cruz

Maintaining motivation in a training program can be a challenge no matter your experience level. There will be days when you just don’t feel motivated to train and periods where it’s tempting to slack off. Here are seven secrets to get motivated to work out.

1. Be accountable

It’s easy to blow off a workout when nobody is expecting you to show. It’s a lot tougher to do so when you have a workout partner or training group expecting you. “The social aspect of working out helps for a lot of people in general,” says Kevin Elsey, director of the performance innovation team at Athletes’ Performance. “But it also can provide the accountability you need to stay motivated.”

2. Downsize your workout

As an endurance athlete and coach, Jessi Stensland knows what it’s like to face an ambitious workout on a day when the drive and energy level isn’t there. Rather than punt completely, she suggests downgrading your plan to something shorter or less strenuous. “Maybe you were planning a long run,” Stensland says. “Why not do Movement Prep instead of nothing? At least you’ll have that benefit and a sense of accomplishment.” Once you’ve started, you might find the energy level kicking in and be able to tackle your original workout. Stensland draws an analogy between this phenomenon and interval training. “There are times after one hard interval where you cannot imagine doing another,” she says. “But after your heart rate comes down and you’re relaxed, you’re ready to go again.”

3. Plan ahead

It’s easy to rationalize missing a workout because you forgot your clothes or don’t have time to rush home to get workout gear. Stay motivated and on course by laying clothes out the night before and keeping extra gear in your car or under the desk. “What can you do to remove as many barriers as possible to staying motivated?” Elsey says. “Whether it’s bringing a gym bag with clothes or having proper nutrition planned, do all of the prep work when you are sufficiently motivated.”

4. Attach a deadline

Training for a specific race or competition brings about a sense of urgency, keeping you motivated and less likely to skip a workout. By signing up for an event well in advance, you’ve also made a financial commitment, no small consideration given the ever-escalating costs of running, triathlon, and other events. Once you’ve signed up, let everyone know. This keeps you motivated since you’ve publicly pledged to do it. “Sports becomes a social-tribal kind of thing,” says Jerry Napp, an exercise physiologist and certified USA Triathlon coach in Tarpon Springs, Fla. “It’s always motivating to see how you’re going to do within your tribe.”

5. Mix it up

One of the biggest trends in participatory sports in 2011 is the popularity of obstacle mud runs. Races such as the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash draw thousands to participate in races that include a dozen obstacles spread out over a 3- to 12-mile course. Athletes do not know what’s coming next. The last thing you want to do is make your training routine. Be sure to vary your training to constantly stimulate your body. If you follow one of the online Core Performance training programs, use the “exchange movement” button in your workout to swap in an alternative exercise to continually challenge yourself and keep your training fresh.

6. Track your progress

The growth of children is more evident to a relative who sees them only a few times a year than it is to a parent. By the same token, it’s easy to overlook incremental progress. That’s one of many reasons it’s important to track your progress over weeks, months—even years. Like investing, seeing that progress helps keep you motivated and on track. Here are four ways to track your progress.

7. Find your rhythm

Maybe you’re not lacking motivation, just timing. Some people will never be “morning people” while others know that if they don’t do their workout in the morning, it will never happen. Some people can’t imagine training after a long day at work while others need that time to de-stress before heading home. “Once you discover when you’re most motivated to train, that’s going to knock down another barrier for you and help you stay motivated,” Elsey says.

About The Author

Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.

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Tags: Goals, Attitude, Training, Motivation, Planning