How to Motivate Yourself to Keep Working Out
Workout motivation is a tough nut to crack.
I take a shirtless picture on Instagram, I get immediate feedback. I get some likes, some LOLs, some digital high-fives, a troll or two. It’s dopamine-on-demand. Poke the button and get the testicular tickle.
Building a great body is nothing like that.
Building a great body is spitting into a bucket every day. And nobody really cares until it’s almost full, including you. “TRUST ME, THIS HERE SPITBUCKET IS GOING TO SHINE ONE DAY!” *hawwwk* *ptoo* *plunk* “YOU JUST WAIT!”
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It’s completely self-driven. Wanna know what it feels like? It feels like this:
You bust your ass through a workout, look in the mirror, and whisper to yourself: “Was that any good?” Then you reply, also uttering: “I have no fucking idea.” “Oh, okay. Should I keep doing it?” “I really don’t know. Please stop talking to me.” “Okay.” “Okay.”
Then you try to use your quick-drying, anti-stink, strategically vented workout shirt to soak up your tears, but it’s water-resistant so it’s not even good for that.
So, how do you do it?
How do you motivate yourself every day to drag your draggy body up to the barbell and muscle-fuck it until a physique is born? Day after day, one month, one year, one decade if that’s what it takes?
Here, then, are some practical thoughts on finding the motivation to build your best body ever, one sweat-brick at a time:
Seriously. Do it now. Stop leering at me and go train.
Here’s something I’ve learned over the years: It doesn’t play nicely with everyone’s schedule, but getting up early to pound out a workout helps keep it high on the list of things to not fuck up.
We only get so many drops of energy every day, and life always finds a way to siphon them out of our skulls in unexpected ways, like tailgaters, noisy eaters, and group text messages.
Lavish these drops early on training, however, and you never have to worry about losing the motivation to do it later.
Sometimes to get things done, you have to stick square pegs into circle holes. Which is also the opening of my sexual tell-all. But whatever.
Point is, trying to eat and exercise the exact same way somebody else eats and exercises can be demotivating. But eating and exercising the way you eat and exercise feels like a well-oiled machine. Also, Well-Oiled Machine is the name of said salacious story. It’s going to be money.
Point is? Create a system that works for you. Get into the groove of eating foods you like and doing workouts you look forward to.
Develop good habits and momentum, which beget more good habits and momentum.
Quick fixes and magic bullets are a myth.
There are no “weird tricks” for melting belly fat, pills or powders for packing on muscle, or “biohacks” for supercharging your chakras with higher vibrations of the green tea infinity.
There’s only the work. The work produces forward motion. The forward motion becomes more forward motion. To reiterate: momentum creates momentum. Fuck inertia. That’s the motto.
The sooner you accept this, the more you’ll come to appreciate progress, which is itself motivating.
Don’t chase unicorn farts, but also don’t keep running full-speed off a cliff.
Take diet breaks. Take exercise breaks. Get some extra sleep now and then. Enjoy your holidays and vacations. Stay out of the gym when you’re sick.
Pushing the workout envelope too far too often is like speeding too much. It feels good, like you’re getting to your destinations much faster, but you’re not, really, and the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Look, some days getting out of bed and into the gym is way harder than it should be. It’s like Earth’s mass suddenly doubled overnight and gravity is trying to stomp your bones into dust.
Sure, you can trudge to and through your workout, but there’s no shame in downing a hit of jitter juice to lighten the load.
Especially when it’s Legion Pulse!
Sit for a minute and contemplate your next workout.
Feel the weights moving, your muscles contracting, your heart pumping. Hear the music in your headphones. Picture yourself hitting your rep targets or maybe even a PR or two. Bask in the post-workout bliss.
Whatever it is, find something in your next workout that excites you.
We all need cheerleaders in our lives. People who love and believe in us in spite of ourselves.
You’re not dreaming about working out—you’re chasing that dream down in a pickup truck full of chainsaw-wielding juggalos.
What you’re doing is real, and you need someone who’s willing to declare how real it really is.
You need someone who’ll always shake their pom-poms for you, not point, laugh, and fart in your general direction.
Working out is fucking hard sometimes. Working out is trying to draw blood from a turnip. Working out is reading a Dickens novel. Working out is wrestling a porcupine in heat.
And when you get right down to it, there’s a point where you either appreciate working out and it motivates you or not. You either have the spark or you don’t. You can only fan flames, not dirt.
At the end of the day, if you’re only looking for little tricks and tips, you need to think harder about this thing you say you want to do.
Working out is a stormy love affair, an amusement park, a flickering neon sign. You’re just drawn to it, even when it sucks, like a pigeon to breadcrumbs.
And that, I think, is what ultimately separates the Aspiring Not-Really-Fit People from the Really Real Fit People—the latter train even when it’s hard, even when the motivation carcass is being picked by crows.
They hook up the defibrillator, crank up the dials, and make the damn corpse dance again. Looks dead, but isn’t.
Every day, then, is a revival, a resurgence of ability and action. Working out leads to more working out, just like crack leads to more crack.
The best motivation to work out, then, is a workout.
So work out when it’s hard.
Work out when it’s easy.
Work out when life doesn’t want you to.
Work out when you don’t want to.
Work out when people say not to.
Work out. And then work out again. And then work out some more. Build a fire that feeds itself.
You might love the process or hate it. You might love some workouts and hate others. You might thrill at how your body responds or curse it.
Keep going, however, and I can promise you this: as difficult as it is, you’ll learn to love having worked out. There’s no other feeling like it.
So go, my friend, and work out. And let that be your motivation.