We’ve all been there… you’re sticking to your diet, hitting the gym five days a week, and your sleep is finally on schedule.
And suddenly, things go off the rails, and before you know it, it’s been a week since you ate a vegetable and three weeks since you stepped foot in the gym.
You set a vision for achieving your health and fitness goals, but you’re quickly dragged down with daily life and responsibilities, not to return to them for months.
Just because you’ve hit a road bump doesn’t mean you have to derail your progress. Losing motivation is a natural part of life, but with the right tips and tricks—and a mindset to succeed—it’s easy to get back on track.
You don’t need superhuman willpower to stick to a fitness routine; you just need strategies to keep you on the right path and help you bounce back after a detour.
So, we’re doing just that. We’re giving you our best 10 tips for getting back on track after you’ve lost the motivation to work out.
Let’s get started!
10 Tips To Get You Out Of A Workout Rut
1. Find exercise you enjoy
If the thought of climbing on a treadmill or running up the stair master makes you cringe, don’t force yourself to do it. Just as forcing yourself to eat food you don’t like rarely works, neither does sticking to an exercise routine you hate.
Exercise doesn’t have to be sitting in the weight room pumping iron or running for miles on a treadmill. Get active by doing activities you enjoy—tennis, biking, walking, hiking, swimming, etc.
There is an endless list of ways to stay active. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re not only getting the benefits of being active, but you’re also getting an endorphin release that can further increase motivation.
While brisk walks and tennis may not build muscle, they’re far better than doing nothing! Find what you enjoy doing and stick to that.
2. Ease back into your routine
If you were following your workout schedule religiously and lost the motivation to get back into it, jumping in full-tilt probably isn’t the best idea—and it could set you back further from where you are now. In simple terms, jumping head-first back into your old routine could burn you out.
Instead, build up to where you left off; ease into things. If you were working out five days a week, make a smaller commitment of going to the gym twice a week, eventually working up to three, four, and finally, five times a week until you’re back at your original schedule.
Using this method prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by the idea of getting sweaty five days a week right off the bat. Make it manageable to make it stick.
3. Stick to your schedule, even if it’s small
Missing a day here or there isn’t a big deal—and it’s not the end of the world. It’s the cumulative effect of never getting back on track. If you miss one workout, you will not lose all your muscles and suddenly feel out of shape.
But if you miss three weeks’ worth of them, you might feel different. For this reason, it’s beyond important to stick to your schedule as much as possible, even if it’s in the slightest way.
Don’t have time for an hour’s walk? Go for 10 minutes.
Don’t have time for a full workout? Do a quick HIIT session.
Don’t have time to cook a healthy meal? Snack on some veggies.
On their own, these actions may not seem all that significant, but it’s not the individual impact that makes a difference—it’s the cumulative effect of sticking to your schedule that will bring you long-term success.
Something is always better than nothing, even if it’s not exactly what you had planned.
4. Schedule your workout into your life
It’s one thing to say you’ll work out, but if you don’t make time for it, chances are you won’t.
Want to snap out of your exercise rut and get back into the gym? Give yourself a time and place to do it. If you’re a morning person, schedule your workout at 6 or 7 AM before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That way, the hour is blocked off, and you’re more likely to commit to it.
When you put something into your schedule, it’s a daily reminder that you need to do it.
5. Find an accountability buddy
One of the primary reasons personal training is so effective is because your trainer holds you accountable for your workouts. They expect you to show up to your appointment and do the work.
Even if you don’t have a trainer, you can still find a workout buddy—or a friend, family member, etc.—to hold you accountable for your actions.
If you’re not physically working out with them, have them keep track of how often you did your workouts and how often you miss them—and if you miss too many, have them set a consequence (and a reward if you make it to all of them.
6. Begin with small changes
Starting a new habit, or getting back into an old one, is as simple as making a chance to one behavior. Studies show that “stimuli that have been rewarded in the past acquire attentional priority over non-rewarded ones” 1.
You can deduce from this that if the action you’re doing has a reward associated with it—perhaps seeing your weight drop—you’re more likely to do the action because there is some “reward” from it.
If working out brings you tangible and obvious rewards, whether in the form of body composition changes or mood, you’re more likely to continue it.
And when you’re consistent with an action or behavior, it eventually becomes a habit. Once you begin feeling great again, you’ll be more consistent with your workout schedule, and in no time, you’ll be back to where you were.
Start with small changes and see how something simple can quickly add up to a bigger picture.
7. Set realistic goals
Often, people lose motivation to work out because they’re not seeing quick progress. But it’s not that progress isn’t happening; they’ve set goals that are unattainable in the period they’ve given themselves. When you set a goal that’s not realistic for a specific time, not achieving it can be deflating.
That’s why it’s essential to set realistic, small goals that can easily be achieved. For example, rather than setting a goal of “I want to lose 30 pounds in three months,” break that down into “I want to lose a pound a week.”
That way, you can figure out what you need to do to lose a pound, and the timeline and goal become a lot more achievable and realistic.
One of the best ways to set goals is by following the SMART principle.
Set yourself up for success, not failure.
8. Take a supplement
We’ve all dealt with the mental struggle of not wanting to work out. Maybe you had a bad sleep last night or a long day at work and you’re exhausted. But in your mind, you know you should work out regardless of how much you want to veg on the couch in front of the TV.
How do you motivate yourself to go in a situation like this? It’s simple—invest in a quality pre-workout. While a high-stim pre will give you energy and get you pumped to train, you want moderate caffeine to enhance your energy, focus, and motivation—without any after-effects.
That something is Pre Lab Pro®. It’s an ultramodern pre-workout supplement that stacks the most advanced and powerful pre-workout ingredients for better muscle, cardiovascular, and cognitive performance.
There are plenty of pre-workout supplements on the market to get your mind and body set for a workout, but nothing compares to Pre Lab Pro®. Try it for yourself and see.
9. Be flexible
Routines and schedules are helpful but can be a huge sticking point if they’re overly rigid. Part of sticking to a routine is being able to incorporate some flexibility.
You may schedule a 30-minute workout at 5 PM, but maybe you had to stay late at work, or you may have a child who decides to throw a temper tantrum.
But being flexible means having a backup plan. If you cannot do your workout as planned, find 20 minutes to do it later. Don’t kibosh your plan altogether, just adapt to your current situation and make it happen another time.
10. Reward yourself
Setting goals for yourself is one thing, but setting goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them is another.
Sticking to a workout plan isn’t always the easiest task, especially when you’re constantly faced with things that can derail your progress, but when you achieve a goal, pat yourself on the back!
It doesn’t have to be a major milestone with a major reward, but something as small as getting to the gym 3x per week for a month and rewarding yourself with something you enjoy.
Maybe that’s a glass of wine, a massage, or a trip to the bookstore. But also don’t forget about the intrinsic rewards of exercise: exercising because it makes you feel good, stress-relief, “me time,” or the feeling of strength after crushing a workout. These rewards are what will keep you pushing toward your goals.
- Carden L, Wood W. Habit formation and change. Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2018;20:117-122.