You know those days when you just don’t feel like doing anything?
Most people can probably relate, and it’s okay to take an off-day every now and then. If you’re working toward a particular goal, though—training for a marathon, losing weight, or exercising every day, for instance—you should stick to your training plan, no matter how comfortable your bed feels when your early training alarm goes off.
On those apathetic days, you’ll need a little extra push to perform at your best. Some particularly focused people can pull that motivation out of thin air—but for the rest of us, there needs to be something else that pumps us up to perform our best.
Men’s Health talked to six top trainers and asked for their best tips to get over the hump when motivation runs low. Apply these to your workouts—and your life in general—and you’ll feel your mental fortitude get stronger than ever.
Six Tips to Make Your Mind Strong
Cofounder, Activlab, Phoenix
It's been a bit since I've shared one of my @activprayer #i-Dedicate trainings. But this one spoke to me, so here it is: A family I love and respect is facing some serious challenges. They're not easy, and they could get more difficult before they get better. I didn't want to work out, but I needed to for me. Then they landed on my heart and in my sprint. So I wrote their name on my band and took a moment to prepare and pray. And I went. I had fun. I worked hard and explored new movements. (Part of what makes my fitness my own) I could have simply grinded, pushed hard, chased fatigue. That's not me. I get that stuff, but as an outcome not always the goal. I don't think I did one thing the exact same way today as I've done in 20 years with tools I use all the time. And it was good. And at the very end, I finished with a core corrective drill I thought I was only going to do 3 sets of 10 second holds. On the first set I was struggling to keep my form and dig deeper. To relax my breath and be strong AND composed. A great strength. I thought I would struggle with just 3 sets. And then it hit me. The family. The struggle. The strength we don't think we have when we need it most. And then it shows up. And it doesn't make sense. But it's there and it's real. And 10 sets later, 10 sets, on my 10th I felt the strongest of all and was most relaxed as well. (Physio and neuro adaption, plus the Spirit:) And the lesson landed. Again. There's more in us. When we ask. When we act for intentions greater than ourselves. BUT just because there's more doesn't mean we use it all. We check in with ourselves. If we're getting stronger as we go further, then it's a sign of real strength. If weaker we surrender and revisit later. That's the strongest strength sometimes. Another lesson was that in challenge, like a workout, you can grind it out and make it miserable, or look deeper and turn the same thing into an awesome experience. What challenges do you keep approaching the same way? What have you done to find strength when you "don't have it in you?" Here's the secret, it doesn't alwsys come from within. It's inspired. It's activated in you. It's there.#eyesupriseup
Tap into big emotion
Dedicate your workout to an intention greater than yourself that moves you–a sick parent or a cause you believe in, for example. It becomes deeply powerful. Write it on your wrist and look at it throughout your workout.
Ben Sweeney, CFL2
Brick New York, New York City
Fun skill work from Tuesday. 3×3 no contact muscle snatch with 3×8 Hur duke jumps…since we don’t have any high hurdles at the gym decided to use boxes instead. Always a great day training when you get to push yourself and have fun at the same time . . . #crossfit #fitness #snatch #olympiclifting @sportspecificpower @cavemancoffeeco @brutalitynation
Prove the haters wrong
For tough workouts, I get fired up by reminding myself of all the people who doubted me or questioned my abilities or said I would never find any success. Then I tell myself I’m about to prove them all wrong.
Author of The Maximus Body
Ladder your reps
Let’s say my goal is 55 reps of a movement. You don’t do them all at once. I do 10 reps, 9 reps, 8, down to 1. Rest between rounds. My favorite ladder is 55 reps, which is 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. It’s easier when the ladder is counting down
Zach Forrest, CFL4
MaxEffort Fitness, Las Vegas
@nikhecht programmed some boring weighted pull-ups for us yesterday. Here I am repping for three what I USED to be able to rep for five – 90lbs 😐 It's going to be a long journey back to "teh fitnesses" #halfbodyweight #progenex #cfme #maxeffort #maxeffortfitness #maxeffortathlete #crossfit #yesionowhowpaleiam #kaitlynmakesmeworkoutwithmyshirtoff
Breathe through pain
Find a rhythm connecting your breathing to your rep, stroke, or stride, so you can focus on maintaining the rhythm. This is common with endurance training, but you can also use it for circuits when you’re busting out reps.
SOFLETE, double amputee
Take one more step
Every month, do something that’ll really test you, where finishing is dependent on your mindset, not your fitness. I drag a sled with a third of my body weight or do a loaded barbell farmer’s carry for a mile. It’s not about time. It’s about finishing.
Creator of OchoSystem
See the finish line
Visualization prior to a running workout helps me destress. I visualize the course or the distance from start to finish and mentally address and picture the moments when I’ll hit a wall during the run and how I’ll deal with it.
By Michael Perry, Ben Court And Brett Williams