5 Strategies for Working Out Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Reservist works up a sweat while doing push-ups.
Ten direct reporting units of the 9th Mission Support Command work up a sweat during the 110th U.S. Army Reserve Birthday Field Day, a physically challenging morning of team-building competitions followed by a traditional cake-cutting ceremony. (Crista Mary Mack/U.S. Army Reserve)

If training is part of your lifestyle, it is out of pure discipline and habit that you drag yourself to the gym, even when you do not feel like it. It’s that kind of training that’s linked to the mantra that keeps you moving: “I trained today, even though I didn’t want to.”

If you find yourself making excuses not to work out, the next five motivational tips are for you.

5 Tips for Training Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

1. Today is Day One or One Day. If you want to start doing something, do it today. This does not have to be an elaborate training regimen; just walk, drink more water and eat smaller portions. That is a great Day One of training. Start now.

2. Plan your day; do your plan. Chances are, you will be more likely to finish a workout planned in the day if done first thing in the morning. Getting into the early-rise habit and immediately exercising is life-changing in so many areas. You feel like you have made yourself some time to focus on you -- without children, work and other schedules requiring your time. Additionally, you will feel much more awake and more productive throughout the day.

3. Make habit building a goal. Instead of focusing first on your weight, inches lost or fitness performance, focus on building the habit of training. Even if you just get up out of bed at the same time and just walk and stretch, do it. Building your fitness habit at the same time is critical to your long-term success, no matter what goal you set for yourself. Once you have built some consistency with your training schedule, any goal you seek is within your reach.

4. Beware of Week 3 to 4. Statistically speaking, this period is when people succeed or fail. Getting past this 21- to 28-day zone is like your own little “hell week.” Most people do not do well this week and start to fall off the wagon of training. Think of New Year’s resolutions. No one even uses the word “resolution” by the end of January. Try something new this week to spice up your training to help avoid the monotony that can come with doing the same thing day after day.

5. Pace yourself. When starting a habit, it is easy to get started highly motivated and do too much, too soon, too fast. Start the habit of training every other day for the first few weeks. Then add in something easy, like just walking on the days between weights, calisthenics or more challenging workouts. Eventually, if you pace yourself in the beginning, you will be more likely to maintain that pace for the long term.

Related article: Habits

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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