Whether you've got workout burnout or are feeling defeated after missing a week's worth of gym time during a vacation, it can be hard to snap out of your no-workout coma. But hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the thing: You need to get back at it before you start gaining weight, losing strength, or get completely discouraged. To keep you from getting set in your sweat-free ways, we asked top-notch trainers what to do when you really (really) just don't want to work out.
One of the reasons why trainers are so effective is because they hold you accountable to make it to your appointment, says John Romaniello, owner of RomanFitnessSystems.com. Even if you don't have a trainer, you can stay accountable by asking a friend, family member, or significant other to make you stick to your workouts. Romaniello suggests having them help you keep track of your missed sweat sessions, set consequences if you miss too many, and offer rewards if you make it to all of them.
Starting a new habit can be as easy as tweaking one behavior, says personal trainer Rachel Cosgrove, the creator of the Women's Health Spartacus 4.0 Workout in the Women's Health Personal Trainer subscription tool. That means you can start to amp up your drive to work out just by taking a weekly yoga class or committing to walk or bike to work a few days a week. When those actions turn into habits, and you realize how awesome they make you feel, you'll be inspired to get into a consistent exercise routine that you stick to even when you don't feel like it, says Cosgrove.
Getting motivated to get your sweat on can be as simple as putting on your shoes, says Michelle Lovitt, a celebrity trainer and Asics America conditioning coach. She recommends keeping your trusty kicks someplace where you see them often, like by your bed or desk at the office, so that they serve as a reminder of your workout plans. Once you pop your shoes on, head outside for at least five minutes, she says. When that time is up, chances are you'll probably think, "Well, I've already started working out, so I might as well keep going." Plus, if you keep your shoes with you as a workout reminder, you won't be able to use the "I forgot my shoes" excuse anymore.
You're more likely to achieve a fitness goal if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s based on something physical that you want to accomplish, like doing a chinup or running an eight-minute mile, says Tony Gentilcore, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, and co-founder of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. And turns out, there's no better time for setting a performance-based goal than when your motivation tank is running on fumes, he says. "I find that if someone has a specific reason to work out, they're excited to train for it in the first place and stick with working towards that goal."
Sometimes finding the will to work out is just a matter of making it to the gym. In that case, it's a smart idea to tag along with a friend who is already in the habit of going regularly (you know the one), says Mike Boyle owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning in Woburn, Massachusetts. Just remember: While it's great to use your friend to get your butt to the gym, it's important that you don't base your training off of him or herÃ¢â‚¬”that puts you at risk of injury, says Boyle.
Jumping back into the workout schedule you were doing before you went on hiatus could send you right back to where you are nowÃ¢â‚¬”that is, completely burnt out, says Nick Rodocoy, a trainer in New York City. Instead, he suggests building up to where you left off. For example, if you were working out five days a week, commit to going to the gym two or three times for the first week. Then, be sure to up it to three or four times the next week and so on until you get back on track, says Rodocoy. Using this method keeps you from feeling overwhelmed by the idea of sweating it out five days a week when you first jump back in.
If you're dreading the thought of climbing onto the treadmill and slogging through 30 minutes of running, tempt yourself into doing an activity that makes working out the outcome, not the action, says David Jack, a fitness expert and certified strength and conditioning specialist. What he means: By doing activities you enjoy, such as tennis, hiking, or going on a long, brisk walk, you're getting some of the blood circulation and endorphin benefits of exercise, which can help motivate you to do more activity later on. And while the physical activities you like to do might not give you exactly the same heart-pounding benefits of your typical gym routine, they're so much better than doing nothing, he says.