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We’ve all been there. We set our alarms early to get up and get a workout in. When the alarm goes off, the most important decision of the day has arrived – to get up or not to get up.
In this instance, we decide to hit the snooze and tell ourselves ‘we’ll do the workout later’ and sleep in. ‘Later on’ has arrived and when it’s time to go and get it done again, we put it off until later and then until tomorrow.
The end of the day comes round and deep down, inside we feel p*ssed off with ourselves for skipping yet another workout. We tell ourselves tomorrow will be different only for the same exact thing to happen again. Is there a way around this lack of motivation? And more importantly, if there is, what can we do?
Rule #1 - motivation is bullsh*t
Although the title of this blog post is how to keep motivated in the gym, the first thing you need to remember before I share some of my tips is that motivation is complete bullsh*t. As contradicting as this might sound considering the title, it needs to be addressed. At certain times we all feel motivated. And those days are great. Everything seems to be going just right. You’ve had a good day. You’re not dealing with anything stressful in your personal life. You’re looking forward to an upcoming event at the weekend. And you even set some new PR’s on the bench press in the gym! These are the days where it seems like we’re seeing the world through a different lens and it feel as though everything is just perfect.
But what about those days when every single little thing just doesn’t seem to go well? You didn’t sleep well last night so you immediately wake up in a bad mood. You check your phone and get a message that puts you off for the whole day. You’ve work left over from yesterday which is overdue at this stage and you’re automatically feeling stressed before you even begin it. It’s lashing raining outside and you remember today is leg day and you have an hour-long session to do that night. Do you feel motivated then? Would anyone? In general, the most common thing we do in this situation is quit. Why? There’s a difference between being motivated and being driven.
Being motivated vs Being Driven
The truth is, its easy to feel motivated when things are going our way. But it’s when everything just doesn’t seem to be working out for us, when everything seems to be testing us from the moment we wake up & when we remember we still have to train – that’s when the challenge comes. It’s what we do during those moments that build our character – something you can’t get from motivation alone. That’s when you need to be driven and do it anyways.
What is it you want to accomplish? I have personally found that my most successful clients are the one's that have a deep inner motive for starting - they want to fit into a suit or dress for a wedding, be able to wear what they want on nights out or become a regular starter on their clubs first team or even get a call up to the intercounty squad. Once you have a deep reason for starting that's more than just 'getting fitter', that inner desire & drive will get you through the hard days. It’s like when we set New Years Resolutions for ourselves and set big goals for the month of January. Everyone wants a change in January. But what you do for the month of January won’t be the solution, it’s what you do for the other eleven months that will count.
On the topic of expectations, be careful with what you write down and expect from yourself. If you’re someone who hasn’t been training much recently, it isn’t a wise move to jump from 0-10 by committing to working out 4-5 times a week. You may do this for the first week or two, but there will come a time when the motivation, excitement and novelty of starting this new lifestyle (usually week 3) wares away. Then, when you miss your first workout, you think you’ve completely messed up. In your mind you see yourself as a failure, you tell yourself ‘this sh*t isn’t worth it’ and you ‘fall off the bandwagon’ by going on an all-out binge. I don’t want this to happen to you because it’s a sure way to completely shatter your inner belief in yourself and this often leads to a lot of negative self-talk. Yes, I’m talking from experience here. I know how it feels to promise myself I’ll finish my full workout only to skip the conditioning at the end. Or how it feels when I tell myself I’ll stay disciplined with my nutrition only to wonder what the f*ck just happened one tin of biscuits, one box of cereal and three ice-creams later! Its not a pleasant feeling.
How to Build Inner Confidence
It’s important to understand that confidence comes from doing the things you said you were going to do devoid of any emotion. We all know that ‘inner b*tch voice’ (credit Joe Rogan!) that tries to talk us out of doing something uncomfortable. This might be that voice telling you to skip your workout because you need some rest. But it also appears in other areas of your life – as mentioned above, the voice that tells you to eat the biscuits or the slices of cake even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t. Or the voice that tells you to go on social media scrolling instead of studying. Unless for some exceptional circumstances (e.g. you’re genuinely feeling sick or get a message that requires urgent attention etc.), if you don’t stay true to your word, you’ll eat up your self-confidence and inner belief and label yourself a failure at the end of the day.
Setting your alarm at 6.00am on a Monday morning to get a workout in only for you to hit the snooze button is doing more damage to yourself than you realise. You’re starting your day off with a loss for a start. But secondly, and most importantly, you’re giving yourself permission to hit the snooze button and put it off when you’re not feeling it next time. Guess what’s going to happen when that time comes around again and you set your alarm to get up early and get a workout in but you want to stay in bed? You’ll stay in bed or you’ll miss the workout! It’s at these moments that your ‘boss or b*tch voice’ (credit to Andy Frisella) kicks in and this is when you want the boss voice to take over & not let your b*tch voice win the inner battle. How do we do this?
Boss > B*tch Voice
This comes back to setting expectations for ourselves. I’m all for being optimistic and goal setting. But these goals must be realistic and achievable. It’s much easier to gradually do more than do too much at the start and having to do less. One of these approaches builds a winning mentality. The other a losing one. One of these approaches builds self-confidence, the other self-doubt. One of these approaches will make you feel proud at the end of the day, the other a failure.
So which way are you going to approach this? Are you going to try and go from 0-10 straight away, or instead go from 0-1? Because going from 0-1 is significantly harder than going from 1-10. It’s that first, initial push that’s always the hardest. Newtons law states that ‘once something is in motion, it stays in motion.’ Getting that ball rolling, getting started is always the hardest. So set yourself up for success rather than for failure.
And this rule doesn’t just apply to people starting out. If you’re currently going to the gym and you can bench 60Kg for 3x10. As nice and all as it might sound, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to lift 100Kg for 1 rep in the next 10 weeks even if you’re on a well-structured program. But 90Kg? It would be a push but if you really trained for it and did the work, it would be an achievable yet challenging goal to reach. The important thing to remember is to build a winning mentality by accumulating ‘small wins’ along the way. When you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, happy with what you’ve achieved, that’s when you know you’re on the right track.
And now, finally – after my long rant its time to actually address the headline of this post – how to keep motivated in the gym! As you know by know, motivation isn’t the issue for you. It’s execution. However, in spite of all that, executing can still be tough! Here are four small hacks you can immediately implement which may help you with getting that initial push.
5 Ways to Overcome Your Lack of MOtivation
There’s not something wrong with you if you don’t feel motivated all the time. No-one does. Don’t build yourself as thinking you’re different or that you’re the only one.
While I can’t directly assist you and hold your hand and bring you to the gym, I can provide you with a proven winning structure that will give you that initial push if you’re a beginner thinking about getting started or if you’re more advanced and want to take things to the next level, I can be your guide to take you there.
Interested in learning more? Why not claim your FREE consultation call today. On the call, we’ll discuss your health & exercise history, your goals and together, we will build a winning plan that will fit your lifestyle and schedule.
Claim your free consultation call today.
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Adrian McDonnell -
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