Maximizing Your Gym Time

Hands up who has a gym membership and goes fewer than 3 times a week. Yes, I thought as much! Motivating yourself to head to the gym can be really challenging, but you are not alone. This motivational slump even affects top level athletes, such as professional triathlete Chris McCormack who says “I am not motivated to train all the time.” So how do they achieve such levels of fitness and train so much? Read on and I hope to get you part way there…

weight training

Keep it Social

We are by nature social animals so being around other like-minded people will certainly help to keep you on track. If the friends you hang around with most of the time are only interested in going to the pub and playing the computer, it’s going to make going to the gym that much harder.

You need to at least have some friends who are into going to the gym or make friends at the gym so when you get there you an socialize and feel better about going. Have a bit of camaraderie between the people in your gym class is great for motivation, which leads me nicely onto my next point…

Join Classes

It could be peer pressure, a lack of wanting to look silly in front of your gym buddies or many other reasons but whatever reason it is it works. In the class environment you can’t stop exercising because you will be the odd one out and you’ll be letting the team down.

An added benefit is that you don’t have to think, just do! The instructor is there to decide what workout you will be doing, for how long and at what intensity so all you have to do is follow their lead and not worry yourself about the details of it all.

Part of the Routine

If your gym is really out of your way and adds 2 hours onto your daily routine it’s unlikely that you are going to do it. The best workouts are those which are part of your daily routine, such as going to work. Try cycling to work. You have to do it every day so it’s not as though you can get out of it easily.

Lunch Time Crunch Time

If you normally find yourself with a lack of motivation for going to exercise after work you are not alone. Having to exercise late in the evening after having been at work all day is tough. The best time to head to the gym is at lunch time because you are still relatively fresh after only having been at work for a few hours and it’s very efficient use of your time. What else do you normally do at lunch time?

Goals & Milestones

Heading to the gym to “keep fit”? What does that mean? In order to stay motivated you need to have a goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small goal or a big goal, you just need one. For example, enter a 10km race or a triathlon and that will give you something to aim for. Or maybe a fat loss goal, anything.

Once you have that goal remind yourself of it every time that you head to the gym and remember why you are going when your motivation is lacking. If you have a larger goal you need to have milestones along the way to keep your motivation up. Maybe you are running a 10km race and you want to be able to run 3km on the treadmill in 12 minutes 2 months before your race. That’s a goal.

Measure and Record

It’s all well and good having a goal but without tracking your progress you will have no idea if you are heading in the right direction. Using fat measurements, timing your running performances or measuring the size of your biceps are all valid for judging how you are performing. Take them regularly and write them down. That will help you remain focused and motivated.

Using photos to see how your body shape is changing is another amazing tool. Put the picture up somewhere that you and others see it every day, such as on the fridge or your desk at work. Reminding yourself of why you are doing it is a great motivator.

Make an Early Decision

Motivation can sometimes be very low, even for the best of us which means that before we are walking out of the door into the dark, cold night to get to the gym we would rather turn around and go back inside. Deciding if you are going to the gym just before you go is a recipe for not going…You must make a plan and stick to it. So, if you plan out your week and decide that Mon, Tue, Wed and Thurs you are going to the gym you should not question it after that. On those days you just pack your gym kit and go, no questions asked.

Long Seems Daunting

I often used this trick when I was training for Ironman because I was really unmotivated to do long runs of 2-3 hours on a Sunday. I wouldn’t want to go, so I would tell myself that I will just go out for 20 mins and see how I feel. I could always turn back and come home if I hated it. The good thing was that when I was out there running I would be OK after 20 mins and carry on for a couple of hours.

Using this approach you are only challenging yourself to do small tasks and nothing more which means that it seems more achievable and like a lot less effort.

Last Resort

If all else fails and you are really unmotivated you need to summon up the drive within yourself to still go to that gym. Think about what you are training for, why you are going through this and visualize how great it’s going to be accomplishing that goal you set yourself, however big or small. And know that with every training effort you are one step closer to achieving that goal so make every time count.

*Image courtesy of naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Written by Robert Jackson

Robert Jackson this year became an Ironman! With over 20 years of experience in exercise and nutrition, he believes in a balanced approach to achieving optimal health. Click here for more info.