Getting to the gym is the most difficult exercise of all. It’s also the most important.
It’s more important than squats, deadlifts, or how much you bench. Because none of that matters if you don’t actually show up to workout.
And sometimes it’s really freaking difficult to drag yourself to the gym to get a workout in.
Maybe you’re new to the gym and you feel a bit intimidated.
Maybe you’re just exhausted and working out is literally the last thing you want to do.
Or maybe you’re really busy which makes it easier to put off, until all of the sudden the week is gone and you still haven’t worked out.
Either way, if you want to get in shape and feel fit, you need to be consistent with your workouts, even when it’s hard to do so.
So I’m going to give you some strategies to help you make yourself workout when you don’t feel like or when your life is making things difficult.
Scaling it back
Scaling is a key strategy for building a consistent workout habit. This is such an important strategy that literally all of my online clients use when life gets in the way of their fitness goals.
Scaling is essentially adjusting your workout in some way so it’s easier and more manageable. The idea being to meet yourself where you’re at and make the idea of working out seem less time consuming and daunting. This makes it easier to motivate yourelf to put in the work.
If the thought of doing a whole workout seems horrible, then just do some of it.
Because something is always better than nothing. By doing something you’re building the habit of “showing up” i.e., being consistent regardless of circumstances. And consistency = results.
And honestly, no action is too small. As long as you’re acting with some intention towards your goal, that’s a victory. That’s a step forward.
Scale back your workout so it feels doable and unintimidating.
Now, how you do this will vary depending on how your feeling. How you scale a workout ultimately depends on where you’re at emotionally and in life.
For example, on one day, scaling back might be cutting your workout in half. Another day it might be doing 5 bodyweight squats at home.
There are no right or wrong answers here, only action or inaction.
You might feel like there’s no point in doing something so “small” like 5 squats at home when you’re used to going to the gym 3 times per week. I totally get it. However, I encourage you to reframe your thinking around this and remember that something is always better than nothing. Nothing usually being the default in these types of situations.
It’s important to be kind to yourself, meet yourself where you’re at, and adjust your plan so that it seems doable from where you are right now.
Make it so doable there’s no reason not to do it.
This attitude has kept my online clients going strong during lapses in motivation and times where going to the gym was tough. And because of that, they’ve kept going rather than putting their goals on hold.
If you “pause” every time life makes fitness difficult, your fitness won’t improve. Because life will always make fitness difficult. Plus, the longer you “pause” the harder it is to “unpause” and build your fitness back up again. The longer the hiatus the harder it is to get back in the game.
Learn to be emotionally self aware and kind enough to yourself that you give yourself permission to take make things easier when necessary.
Scaling back is one of the most powerful tools in your toolkit. Don’t be afraid to use it.
Your crazy hectic schedule isn’t going anywhere. Learn stay consistent with your training within that reality and you’ll see better results than ever before.
The trick is learning to adjust to where both you and your life are in relation to working out.
What are some ways you can adjust to different obstacles?
Different obstacles require different types of scaling techniques.
I’ve listed some ways my online fat loss coaching clients have dealt with common obstacles to continue getting results during tough times.
Short on time
There are a number of things you can do to cut back on the time you spend at the gym.
I wrote a whole post about the nuts and bolts of shortening workouts without sacrificing results here. So make sure you check that out because it’s more detailed than what I can include in this subsection.
Now, especially if your gym isn’t right next to your house or your work, getting to the gym will take a good amount of time, as will packing your gym bag, and whatever else you need to prepare.
If that’s the case, simply workout at home. More convenient, less travel time. Sorted.
Workout for as much time as you have/want to. This could be a full home workout or simply a few sets of planks. Again, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you do. All that matters is that you do something and keep building up that consistency and investing in the fitness bank.
This is how exercise becomes habit. By continuing to build the habit regardless of what life throws at you.
Low on energy AKA exhausted AF
A lot of the same tips from the prior section apply here, because often the longer you workout the more energy it’ll take. But not always.
So here are a few other ideas for when you’re low on energy. These will make your workout seem more manageable and less like a chore:
- Give yourself longer rest times in between exercises
- Skip the exercises you don’t like
- Reduce the weight and/or reps on a given exercise (I haaaate doing high reps, so I usually keep the weight heavy-ish and decrease the reps if I’m not feeling it)
- Just do 1 set of everything instead of whatever your workout prescribes
- Only do your warm up sets
- Do 5-10 minutes of mobility/stretching and call it a day
These are just a few ideas. What are some other things you’ve done to rally yourself to get a workout in when low on energy?
Remember why you’re doing this in the first place.
Right now, you’re conflicted.
One side of you is saying, “I should go to the gym”. The other side could be saying lots of things like, “I’ll go tomorrow”, “what’s the point?”, “but I’m so tired”, “missing one workout won’t hurt” etc.
I want you to dig into the “I should go” side.
Why should you go? Why is this important to you?
Here’s an exercise that can help you find some motivation.
Ask yourself the following counterintuitive questions:
- What’s good about skipping the gym?
- What’s bad about going to the gym?
Then ask yourself these more intuitive ones:
- What’s good about going to the gym?
- What bad things may happen if you don’t go to the gym regularly?
This exercise can help you tap into the deep motivations for why you want to do something as difficult and uncomfortable as working out.
Again, home workouts can be useful here. Especially if you get anxious around crowds.
Another option is going to the gym, but staying well within your comfort zone.
If the free weight section is packed with loads of grunting, muscly dudes banging weights around and that makes you uncomfortable, stay in the areas of the gym you feel more at ease.
Maybe the treadmill or the stretching area doesn’t seem so bad. Or just do the exercises you feel comfortable doing. If you feel confident in what you’re doing, where you’re doing it doesn’t seem as intimidating.
Again, the point is to meet yourself where you’re at in order to get you to do something rather than nothing. So don’t worry if what you do isn’t part of your workout program.
Doing something not in your program is 100x better than skipping your workout entirely because your program seemed too intimidating.
The more you can adapt to circumstances and your own internal temperament, the more successful you’ll be at losing weight and building healthy habits. You’ll see better fat loss, and have a healthier relationship with fitness, food, and your body.
It’s not easy because every situation is different, but I hope I’ve helped you brainstorm some ways you can rally yourself the next time you’re struggling to workout.
Here’s what people are saying about online fat loss coaching with me:
“My weight was increasing in pounds by the year. Now, my weight is declining more by the month. Jeff is consistent with his positive attentiveness and professional patience. Because of Jeff, I believed in myself and made previously unimaginable progress in my health, diet, and sleep. Jeff gave me the support I needed that I hadn’t ever gotten from anyone else before. Couldn’t have done it without you, Jeff. Thank you!” - Chris
“My goals were fat loss and to build my back and overall physical strength. At first, I was nervous to take a jump and actually talk about my eating habits and my exercise habits. But after the very first conversation we had put that all to bed, because it was such an easy chat. Through online fat loss coaching I’ve really switched on to self awareness around my eating habits. I’ve found a sense of clarity in planning my weeks (which has helped me in my life in general). And I’m not nervous at the gym anymore! I have a sense of achievement about my fitness now.” - Alex
So if you’ve struggled to build ongoing healthy habits that make you feel confident and fit, definitely take 2 minutes to apply for a free phone consultation here.
Need a bit more info before you apply? Check out my Online Coaching FAQ page.