“And we are here to pump… you up!” – Hans and Franz
Hans and Franz have great attitudes, but aren’t the best coaches: Arnold’s right: before posing or competition (or baby oil), exercise comes first.
But there are days when exercise seems impossible. Why? In his book “Never Let Go“, Dan John writes about how free will is limited for everyone. You have a finite daily amount, and the more you use on other daily decisions, the less you have left over for exercise. If you were busy at work; if taking care of the kids took all of your day; if you have a big deadline looming – then the odds of exercising decrease.
Thankfully, when energy is low, you’re fairly open to suggestion. You can use this suggestibility to your advantage, by tricking yourself into exercising. Here are six ways that have worked for me in the past. Next time you’re exhausted or you don’t feel like working out, give one a try:
1) Phone A Friend
There are going to be days when you don’t have the energy to exercise. Plan for this by building a group of friends who also like to exercise. One of you will summon the energy for a good workout, and that’s contagious – if one person leads the way, the motivation is shared. They can also share the responsibility for planning each workout. Planning a workout can take a fair amount of energy, so it’s nice to share that task. Which leads to:
2) Buy A Workout
Hundreds of exercise programs are available on the web. But it’s hard to know where to begin, or which will work for you, and searching for the perfect plan can be exhausting. Heading to the gym with a workout already laid out for you is a big advantage, and having a coach you trust helps. Coaches also provide a boost by helping to hold you accountable and helping articulate your goals. There is a cost here, but whether it’s a program at a local gym or one that’s online, the benefits can often outweigh the cost. Ask your friends for recommendations.
3) Set a Time Limit
When you’re exhausted, exercise of any kind can seem overwhelming. So set a time limit. Tell yourself you only have to exercise for fifteen minutes. And then go as hard as you can for that time. You’ll find some great workouts come out of this. Time-limited workouts are also handy when I’ve planned out a huge block of time for a workout, only to find that time eaten up by other responsibilities. In the past, I’ve used this as an excuse to skip a workout, but short workouts teach you that any workout is better than none, even if it’s only fifteen minutes. The trick is to get the workout in, and to go as hard as you can for the time you have.
4) “Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This…”
Everyone has bad days, leaving you exhausted and needing to blow off some steam. Planning a complicated workout isn’t happening. So keep it simple: pick one exercise, and do it 100 times. Or go to the park and do sprints for half an hour. Or go for a long run. Simple workouts are great – you don’t have to think too much about them, and thanks to the endorphins you come away feeling better. Use this trick to turn a bad day into a good day, by compartmentalizing the tough parts and changing the flow.
5) Just Play
When I was a kid, and my parents had had enough of me tearing around the house, they would send me outside. I had no plan, no organized sport, no timer, and no obligation. It was playtime. I made games up as I went along. Playtime still works today – as long as you can get to the gym or the park, you can have a good workout. Go and play, trying anything that strikes you. Mix up whatever exercises you enjoy; don’t make more out of exercising than simply having fun.
6) Keep It Close
Number five works best when the gym is easy to get to. So having some way of exercising at home is vital. Your home gym doesn’t need to be expensive: a few dumbbells or kettlebells, a yoga mat, some exercise bands, and a space to use them. With that, you can have some great workouts and getting started requires no effort other than walking to another room. If you have a space to exercise at home, just walking by is often enough to get a workout started.
Do you have other tricks that have worked for you? Feel free to share them in the comments below.