The hum and buzz of last month’s powerlifting meet have worn off and you’re in a slump. Used to training by a strict schedule and alongside a teammate, the quiet filling the space between your bicep curls and weighted squats is deafening and disheartening.
Sure it’s nice sometimes to be able to focus on the workout at hand without listening to the grunts and woes of your workout partner’s latest life drama, but truth be told, having someone around to spot you on a chest and help you grit through the heavy weight can be a huge motivator.
Now that you’re training alone, it’s time to hone in on your body and goals without getting sidetracked. When you find yourself wavering back and forth from wanting to kick ass and bolting out of the gym early for Mexican and a margarita, just remember that you are your biggest competitor. When you feel your motivation begin to wane, embrace some of the tips below to help you refuel your drive.
1. Make a Plan and Stick to it
When it comes to lifting, if you’re flying by the seat of your pants, you aren’t going to get very far. Every muscle of the body works in unison with another and so should your workouts. Sit down with your calendar and hash out a schedule and workout plan that works for your lifestyle and make sure it’s something you can get excited about.
If you aren’t eager to see what’s next up on your calendar, chances are you aren’t going to hit the weights with much motivation. Read through some of your favourite fitness magazines and draw up a workout plan that keeps things challenging and interesting. By keeping things fresh you’ll be a lot less likely to burn out.
2. Remember Nutrition is Key
Muscles aren’t built in the gym. Yes, you read that right. When you lift, you are literally tearing your muscle fibres and it isn’t until after your gym session that they begin rebuilding themselves. Even more important than adding an extra ten-pound plate to each end of your bench press is your diet. When fueling your body you want to make sure you are putting in good, quality ingredients that will leave your body energised and refreshed, not dragging.
As tempting as it may be to reach for the Krispy Kreme donuts your coworker brought in this morning, remember that what you put into your body now will either negatively or positively affect your workout this afternoon. Eat a high protein diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats and leave the refined sugary carbs sitting in the box where they belong.
3. Get a Coach
Nothing says “I’m in this to win this” like hiring your own personal coach. Whether it be a cheering squad in the weight room or a detailed workout and diet plan you’re looking for, a trainer can hold you accountable and get you where you need to be. Find someone who is strong and knowledgeable in exercise science and talk to them about your short and long term goals.
A coach will not only encourage you through your workouts but will look for your weak spots and design workout sessions aimed at strengthening them. A personal trainer will help you stay focused on your goals and keep you motivated to stick to your routine. It’s a lot harder to blow off a workout session when you know there is going to be someone there waiting for you to show up.
4. Write It Down
Journaling isn’t just for angsty teenagers and wanna be writers. Keeping track of your day to day and week to week progress can offer a huge amount of motivation. Tracking your progress and setbacks can help you hone in on the exact areas you are excelling and keep you focused on your current goals. Be specific when setting yoar goals, write for example: ‘I want to get a six pack‘ or ‘lose X pounds by the end of the winter’.
Feeling unmotivated about this week’s workouts? Take a look at last Friday’s PR and you’ll feel a rush of pride and accomplishment that will push you through even the most monotonous workout. Look at ways you can tweak last week’s workouts to give you an extra boost of performance this week.
5. Join an Online Community
The inside of the local gym isn’t the only place you’ll find die-hard fitness addicts hanging out these days. Hop on to a fitness or body building forum online and you will see a whole world of people eagerly sharing their goals and accomplishments with like minded people.
Whether looking for tips and advice on workout form or a place where you can share your accomplishments with cyber gym buddies who can cheer you on with a virtual “thumbs up”, you’re sure to find a community of people as enthusiastic about lifting as you are. Psychologists have studied the effects of tracking workouts and sharing such achievements online and found that it boosts motivation double fold!
Find a site with fitness enthusiasts you feel comfortable sharing with and get ready to cheer and be cheered on from the safe, un-sweaty distance of your computer screen.
6. Reward Yourself
Regardless of what activity humans are doing, there is no doubt that they are going to try to do it better when there is a reward involved. Don’t let working out become a monotonous daily drudgery with no end in sight. Stay focused on the bigger picture of a healthy stronger you and make sure you reward yourself for the effort that you are putting in.
Whether it be indulging in a decadent drink at the end of a good month or a pair of tickets to a favourite concert after a PR is met, keep the incentives flowing and you’re sure to stay motivated in the gym.
We all go through ups and downs in our fitness journeys, but don’t let the fact that you’re working out alone dissuade you from putting in your very best. You have worked hard to get to the point where you are today. Look in the mirror and remind yourself of the journey you’ve taken to get here and get excited about what the future holds. Embrace fitness in every aspect of your life and you’ll be sure to succeed.