Posted on July 25, 2022 by Harry Edwards
It’s common for people to say they don’t like going to the gym because they don’t know what to do and eventually get bored. Similarly, people may start training, and be making good progress, but eventually they find the same old routine is just not exciting enough to keep them engaged. Then they find reasons to give up a session here and there until weeks have passed and they haven’t stepped foot in anything resembling a gym! Its easy to simply reduce this down to, “Your workouts weren’t varied enough!” or “You just need to be more disciplined!”, but there’s more going on here. Lets dive in and uncover some of the underlying factors that influence our fitness mindset and our adherence to training programmes.
Motivation – What drives you? Why do you do what you do?
For every action we perform in our life, there is a corresponding motivation, a reason why we did what we did. From something as simple as, “I went to the fridge, because I was hungry”, to something as complex as, “I got frustrated at work today, because I have a lot going on at home”, there is always a driving motivation behind the things we do. When people talk about working out and beginning a fitness journey, it can often be overlooked why one would embark on this journey in the first place. It’s not that the reason has to be especially deep or complicated, but it needs to be strong enough that when faced with an obstacle, for example you feel tired and can’t be bothered to train today, your motivation weighs more heavily than the obstacle on your decision-making scales. This will enable you to overcome the common obstacles that disrupt progress.
For example, take an exerciser who has been given a medical diagnosis that requires them to get in good shape or else they may not live to see their children grow up. This would be an extremely powerful motivation to change their current circumstances and often does provide the impetus for people to get their fitness and overall lives together. You can bet that if that person weighs “I can’t be bothered” VS “I want to walk my daughter down the aisle”, the decision becomes very simple. This is a dramatic example though. The most effective motivation is simply that the exercise you do is more fun or enjoyable than whatever the obstacle is. For example, presented with the choice of playing football with all your friends at the football club or staying at home alone, it could be that the enjoyment you get from the exercise and social interaction makes training the easy choice. In this vein, one key to effective training is doing exercise you find fun, challenging and exciting. If your current exercise regimen is boring you, bin it off and find something that gets you smiling!
Ultimately, the key to nailing adherence is to switch up your mindset by reflecting on what your motivations for exercise are. Whether it be self-improvement, supporting others, sheer fun, or something else, understand what your driving motivation is and weigh it up against whatever obstacles you face. The benefits of exercise and the negatives of not exercising can quickly inspire you to shove your trainers on and get out of that door when you otherwise wouldn’t have. This will reinforce your motivation by clarifying what your goals are, and will improve your adherence, getting you results faster. Equally, it should also be stressed that you don’t need to sacrifice your entire social life and favourite activities/hobbies in order to be fit and healthy. Balancing your training with the stuff you enjoy is the key to long term adherence. A fitness journey is only helpful if you can stick to it for a lifetime, and that should show in the strategies you adopt. To find out more about motivation, mental health and fitness, check out this blog here.
Mental Agility – Do you adapt well to change? Are you willing to change things to get what you want?
We may understand our motivations better, but adherence is easier said than done, especially when we begin to get bored with the same old routine. It’s not that we are any less motivated to achieve our goals, but we’re gradually becoming sick of doing the same things, especially if it feels like its no longer pushing us towards the accomplishment of those goals. Mental agility is what is required here! Firstly, you need to reflect upon your circumstances and what exactly you are struggling with. If you are the kind of person who is generally good at establishing a routine and sticking to a plan, you might not be struggling with the familiarity of your fitness regiment, but instead other factors are impacting your enjoyment of exercise. As such, you may need to delve into these other areas and address the issues. Maybe you need to make more time for yourself or cut out areas of negativity in your life to allow you to focus on what you need, both from a fitness and a personal, mental health perspective.
Alternatively, if you are more responsive to change and the monotony of your fitness programme is genuinely getting you down, changing things up is not rocket science! Simply find exercises that align with your goals, perhaps working the same muscle groups but in different ways, and re-jig your workouts to keep them fresh. One easy way to implement this is have a Session A and Session B, A being your original workout and B being your updated version. This will allow you to reap the benefits of your old workout while mixing up the exercise selection to keep you engaged. You may also need to increase the intensity of your workout, either by increasing the amount of weight/resistance or by increasing the volume in each workout by adding more sets. By maintaining a constant challenge for your body, not only will you reignite your engagement but you will also continually see progress by ensuring every time you reach a plateau, you step up the difficulty and force your body to adapt.
In any case, change is good! It’s vital that we develop the ability to respond positively to changing circumstances, because the only guarantee in life is that nothing ever stays the same! As such its key that you are constantly being honest with yourself and reflecting on where you are and what you need to physically, nutritionally and mentally be at your absolute best. This is essentially the role that a personal trainer plays for you, using their knowledge and expertise to inform the exercises they choose for you, regularly reviewing your progress and goals and re-jigging your workouts to align with your changing wants and needs. They ensure you’re on track and constantly progressing while maintaining variety. This can be done solo, but there is undoubtedly additional motivation that comes from the accountability of someone else tracking your results and from the social dynamic of your sessions, not to mention the benefit of drawing from their experience and expertise.
We have looked at the core factors influencing adherence to a fitness programme, first, what your core motivation is and how strong it is against the road bumps you will face, and second, change and variety. Whether it be to add a new training stimulus or simply to shake things up, change is good! Being able to sit back and review these factors for yourself objectively is difficult, so finding a good PT is a great way to address these issues and step up your training to help achieve your goals and surpass them. Thankfully we here at motive8 north have a large team of dedicated personal trainers, totally focused on helping you accomplish all this and more! Check out the link here to find out more and reignite your journey for self-improvement!