Stuck in a rut? Here's how to break a sweat and crack a smile with five expert-approved ways to get your motivation back
Words: Tom Ward
When was the last time you sacked off a workout? Probably earlier this week, right? Earlier today, even. Maybe you should really be busting out some sit-ups instead of reading this (we’ll let you off on that last one).
The point is, we’re all terrible flakes. Give us even a hint of an excuse and we’ll skip the gym or put that spin session on ice.
And we get it, exercise is hard. It takes time. It gets you sweaty. It’s too sunny/dark/rainy outside to go to the gym. Yeah, yeah yeah.
Because we’re all only human, we thought it’d be a good idea to put together some tips that can help get you excited about exercise again.
It’s less about swapping the treadmill for the Wattbike, and more about shifting your mindset and approach to fitness. We’d tell you to thank us, but you’ll probably be too busy working out.
The gym is literally a playground, and the tools therein are your toys. Lily Chapman, a nutritionist and performance coach with P3RFORM, suggests you remember that.
“The easiest way to make a workout more fun is by making it more functional,” she says. “One of the reasons working out can get so boring is because of how repetitive it can get. This is one of the reasons why CrossFit is so popular – it’s challenging, but it’s varied, and encourages you to practise uncommon moves, for example, handstand walks and rope climbs. These are the sorts of moves we love messing around with as kids, and there’s no reason we should stop when we’re adults.
“Try setting it out like an obstacle course or setting yourself up a circuit of interesting and challenging exercises,” she suggests. “Setting up the equipment in a line so that you can move forward from one exercise to the next – for example, a deadlift ladder – creates a visual aid and makes it more satisfying once you’re done. You could also set up the workout like a game and race a friend to see who can finish fastest.”
If you’re struggling to find motivation, it could be that you’re bored with the same old thing rather than working out entirely, says PT Mel Thomas.
“Have a break from the old routine,” he suggests. “If you look at one of the outstanding boxers of this generation, Vasyl Lomachenko, his training regime is nothing like what a traditional boxer does. Not only does he do HIIT but he also rollerblades, does gymnastics and heavy swimming training where he exerts himself to the limits and holds his breath under water.
“We all have the opportunity to change the ways that we train,” he continues. “If you’re a heavy weightlifter try HIIT or a boxing class. If you’re a distance runner try a strength class.”
It’s easy to skip a regularly scheduled session if we’re too busy or tired. The solution? Throw out the timetable entirely, as David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at Freeletics explains.
“Trying to fit exercise into your work day, wherever possible, is one way to make exercise seem more fun or appealing,” he enthuses. “Taking regular, short breaks to run some sprints up and down the stairs or complete a few sets of pushups, squats, or lunges when you feel like a little break is a great way to squeeze fitness into your day and do something productive while you’re taking a ‘brain break’. The added benefit is that you’ll return back to work more eager and productive with better blood flow to the brain thanks to the exercise you’ve completed.”
There’s no greater motivator than having to compete in front of people. Not only does entering an event give you something to train towards, it can provide a community of like-minded individuals to egg you on, too, as Mel explains.
“A few years ago, I was looking for something to motivate me so I entered a mini triathlon,” he says. “As a weak swimmer this was always going to be a challenge. The results were amazing, with a 5 per cent reduction in body fat and an increase in muscle mass as a result of the swimming training. Whether it’s a fun run for charity, an organised event, why not set yourself a challenge.”
There’s no longer any need to swap gym time for catching up with your mates, as David explains.
“Plan to see friends or family for fitness-related catch ups,” he suggests. “You could do a workout in the park or hit the gym. Another great family activity is to create your own exercise-based game. One of the most stimulating ways to keep fit is by using Uno or playing cards to plan out your exercise routine. By allocating each suit or colour to an exercise, and the number on the card dictating how many reps you do, you have the thrill of playing a game and getting fit at the same time. It is also a nice way to get the whole family moving too.”
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