How To Combat Demotivation When Working Out

Even someone focused on fitness and overall holistic wellness can lose motivation to work out sometimes. This is normal. We cycle through periods of lows. It’s just a matter of keeping your behavior pattern in check and adjusting your workout as needed.

It’s important to keep your enthusiasm and passion alive, for everything, not just workouts. There are difficult times in our life when working out might not be easy, like a stressful time at work depleting all your energy.

If you feel demotivated to work out, check in with yourself to understand why. 

Why You’re Losing Motivation To Work Out

When you get started, the novelty of your chosen workout keeps you moving. The novelty wears off, you get tired, and you lose motivation fast. 

It’s natural. It’s a stage we all go through. The simple thing to do is always keeping your workouts fresh and interesting.

Sometimes the cause of your demotivation stems from your earlier motives, the factors that made you get started working out in the first place. When you place anything on a weak foundation, it soon crumbles. It’s the same with workouts.

Below are a few reasons why your motivation might be waning.

You Think Exercise Is All About How You Look.

Most people obsess too much about a slim waist, toned arms and a nice set of abs. While the holidays and the bikini season can be a short-term motivator, it doesn’t stick for long causing people to fall back to unhealthy habits. 

When you think exercise is just all about the way you look, it’s easy to lose motivation. 

This can go two ways: You just lose your enthusiasm once you get what you wanted, or you stop trying when you can’t seem to get it.

If it’s the first, congratulations. Taking a look at all aspects of wellness to see if you’re even truly fit or only achieved for designer muscles will help you continue to be motivated. If it’s the latter, keep going and make better goals and timelines for yourself. Reassess your motive: wellness isn’t only about the way you look.

You Make Hard And Fast Rules For Yourself

Sometimes, you lose your motivation because you set goals and expectations that are too high or too hard for yourself. You’re a perfectionist. When you miss a workout day, you lose motivation to continue. Concrete plans are great, but give yourself allowances. Because if not, you’ll just keep on delaying your progress and your goals will remain unfulfilled.

Fast rules like losing as much weight as you can in the shortest period of time possible doesn’t help. In fact, losing one to two pounds per week is already a sustainable goal and more achievable. Feeding your mind with unrealistic expectations will just make you frustrated and lose your motivation when you fail to reach these goals. 

The Pressure You Put On Yourself

Often, we put too much pressure on ourselves thinking that we haven’t accomplished that much in a specific period of time we set and it seems like we aren’t moving forward.

It can be easy to be in this state of mind. But if you allow yourself to get stuck in this mindset, you’ll eventually drain all the motivation you have and disregard all the progress you’ve already achieved in the past.

Rekindling Your Motivation Towards Working Out

Being in control of your thoughts and emotions and knowing what to do when you’re lacking self motivation can help you achieve your goals without relying on external factors like pressure and standards you see in our society.

Below are five different ways to motivate yourself, preventing you from giving up when you feel demotivated.

Try Decompressing

Keep doing things you love or are familiar with. A study says that re-watching your favorite TV shows helps regain your motivation to get things done, like your workout routine (1). Watching your favorite show gives you a comforting and relaxing feeling because you already know what the characters will say and do. You’re not expending energy trying to pay attention. 

Similarly, when you’re not in the best mood to work out, try something you know and love, your fallback because it makes you feel good and you’ve gotten good at it.

A Friendly Competition

Adding a bit of competition is a great way to spice up your workout routine and make you more enthused. Find someone or a group of people and you can motivate each other. 

When you’re in a competition, the goal is to beat someone in the game, or be better than the other. You don’t want to be a quitter, nor a loser. 

Try hopping on an upright bike and compare speeds and distance with a friend or a workout buddy. Dare each other to get the highest number of jumps with a jump rope in three minutes. Turn it into a game. Add stakes. You can even compete with your own records. There are apps you can use for this. 

You don’t get bored and you work harder if you have someone by your side doing the same workout, and you’ll achieve better results. Research shows that having a workout buddy can increase the intensity and amount of exercise you do (2). A little competition adds some thrill to your routine and drives greater outcomes.

Practice Self-Talk

There are probably tons of voices echoing in your head– the ones coming from your friends and family, someone on TV, or your favorite fitness YouTuber. But the most prominent voice you should listen to is yours.

Research suggests that second-person self talk helps you boost your motivation and confidence (3). Encouraging yourself with phrases like “You can do this,” or “You’re one step closer to your goals” improves the chances of achieving greater results.

Also, listen to your inner voice telling you to take a break or shift to a gentler workout routine. Sometimes, we tend to push ourselves way beyond our capabilities. This is how you get burnout. 

Create A Personalized Routine

There are tons of workout guides online, but I strongly believe that each person has a unique routine that works better for them. You might like this or that workout at first, but the novelty will wear off. A routine that challenges you and excites you will stay motivating for longer. 

Getting a trainer can help you create a workout routine specifically tailored to your needs and capabilities. Coaches help you stay on track of your routine and make lasting lifestyle changes.

If you think you’re lacking drive to work out, your coach will keep you accountable towards your goals.

What’s Your Why?

The reason behind all your wellness goals is what ultimately motivates you. Why do you want to be healthy? Maybe because you want to see your children grow up, you want to experience taking care of your future grandchildren, or maybe you simply want to avoid diseases. 

It’s not just about looking good, or following what other people do. You can only maintain long-term motivation when the reasons behind your goals are clear to you. Worthwhile reasons will succeed in pushing you to workout even when you don’t feel like it.

Mind Over Matter

When you lack motivation, it’s your mind you’re battling with. Practicing mindfulness will help you listen to your thoughts and take control. Remember your purpose and intentions, and the steps you must take to achieve them.

Give yourself a reward. While working out already comes with tons of natural benefits like better quality of life and reduced stress and anxiety, external rewards are effective in boosting your motivation too. It can be getting a new pair of shoes after accomplishing a milestone, or a promise to binge watch your favorite Netflix series.

Raise the stakes. Pretend you’re in a race and there’s a huge amount at stake. Or as if you’re training for an athletic event. Imagination can help you alter your mindset. Think of whatever makes you want to keep moving.

Visualize your success and make it happen. Athletes usually visualize themselves winning their game to boost their confidence and motivation. A study suggests that mental visualization of your goals helps increase your motivation to act on them and make them happen (4).

When you learn how to manage your thoughts and really focus on your intentions, there’s no pressure that can stop you from working out towards your goals. 

Developing Strong, Long-Term Motivation

The road towards success isn’t always clear. You might have seen results in the first few months, but there comes a point where results stop and you no longer see changes anymore. 

You feel stuck and lose your motivation. Though it’s normal, you don’t want to give up your entire progress just because you plateaued. Remember your why’s to get back to your momentum.

“Be” Goals Over “Do” Goals

“Be” goals are more motivating than “do” goals. Your “be” goals are about yourself and your character as a person, while your “do” goals are about the experiences you want to achieve in your life.

Instead of doing workout, be someone who works out. In this way, you will naturally and continuously seek opportunities to prove that identity you set for yourself. It doesn’t just end by completing a workout routine for a day. It makes working out a long-term commitment.

When you focus on your “be” goals, you aim to be a certain type of person. You give working out more holistic meaning. You can even inspire other people to follow your steps.

Tiny, Doable Routines Make Huge Improvements

Small chunks of your daily workout routine make huge, long term improvements than not working out at all. Start by preparing your gym clothes the night before you workout. Or plan to jog early in the morning before you go to work then do the rest of your routine once you’re back home.

Working out doesn’t have to be done in one go. Find the intensity that works best for you.

Final Takeaways

You’re human. There will be times when you lose your drive to continue what you’re doing and self belief that you can do it. But what matters most is how you respond and bounce back from these instances.

You have the potential to reach your goals. You just have to step up and make it happen. Contact Champ City today and talk to one of our experts to help you create a more personalized routine tailored to your capabilities.


  1. Derrick, J. (2012) Favorite TV Reruns May Have Restorative Powers
  2. University of Aberdeen (2016) A new exercise partner is the key to exercising more
  3. Dolcos, S., & Albarracin, D. (2014) The inner speech of behavioral regulation: Intentions and task performance strengthen when you talk to yourself as a You
  4. Renner, F., Murphy, F., Ji, J., Manly, T., & Holmes, E. (2019) Mental imagery as a “motivational amplifier” to promote activities

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