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How To Get Motivated To Go To The Gym

"80% of Success Is Just Showing Up" - Woody Allen

There are days when you just don't feel like training, everyone has them.
I go through spells generally a few days long where working out is one of my least favourite things - the funny thing is I have literally never regretted a workout - it just doesn't happen. The release of endorphins and the feeling of knowing you're making progress towards your goals while improving your health, mobility and well-being is intense.

How To Get Motivated To Go To The Gym

This post is going to cover the motivational methods I use to drag my ass into the gym when I'm struggling.
This is by no means a definitive list, these are merely just the techniques that I have found to work best - let me know how you get motivated to train in the comments below!


Motivational Methods:

Get an accountability/gym buddy

Get a friend or find someone at your gym that is at least as dedicated to their training as you are, if not more.
A gym/accountability buddy expects you to show up at the gym at your arranged times to hit the weights together - so you can no longer dismiss or blow off your workouts without letting your partner down (don't do that.).
Not only is this great motivation, but you'll also be able to push each others past your limits via assisted repetitions, the mental boost from having a spotter above the bar while bench pressing etc.

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A word of warning - a gym partner can also be VERY detrimental to your training if they're a slacker.
Gossiping, cutting workouts short and delaying workouts are a few of the traits I've discovered with the not-so-dedicated gym partners I've had.

Get to the gym immediately upon waking

As the often quoted saying goes "half of the battle is won simply by showing up". This is one of my favourite quotes as from experience in many fields I know it's true.
Getting the hardest task done earliest in the day is an ideology I live by.
Just physically getting yourself to the gym early in the morning is the key here - once you're there you will have no trouble going through your workout. The hardest part is just showing up.
Have your gym bag packed and your gym clothes next to your bed and ready to go along with your home made pre-workout supplement or a cup of strong coffee - as soon as that alarm goes off immediately prepare yourself and go.

Write down your health/fitness goals

If there's 1 takeaway I learnt from the best selling book 'Think and Grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill it's that you NEED to have your goals written down and you need to be viewing them at least once a day, preferably twice.
My motivation would be extremely low too if I didn't have a goal - it's the equivalent of loading up your rifle and then having no idea where you're aiming at or driving your car with absolutely no destination in mind...  it just doesn't make any sense.
Your goals are to be as specific as possible. 'I want to lose weight' just doesn't cut it.

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Here's some examples of specific, measurable goals:

  • I want to cut to 8% body fat before the first day of Summer.
  • I want to bench press 315lbs for 5 reps before April 2nd.
  • I want to gain 15lbs of lean muscle mass this year.

The only way you're going to accomplish the above is by getting your ass to the gym. Period.
Knowing you're not going to make it unless you're putting in the hard yards in the gym should be more than enough motivation to get you there (provided your goals actually are important to you).

Watch a YouTube video

Albeit not the best form of motivation as it isn't constant - but watching a motivational YouTube clip while getting ready to go to the gym (or when you're procrastinating about going to the gym).
Fire up and check out some of the bodybuilding motivation and gym compilation clips put together. There's some guys on there that spend a lot of time and effort compiling the most motivating footage dubbed with speeches and music designed to get you fired up. Sipping on a stimulant such as coffee or your home made pre-workout supplement while watching a couple of clips will have you ready to speed (literally) off to the gym to smash those weights.

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Carry a photo of your dream physique in your wallet

Print out a small colour photo of your dream physique, this photo should envision exactly how you want to look (some people even photoshop their own head onto their dream body - I have not done this before).
Whenever you're lacking motivation or plan to stop your workout early be sure to pull out that photo and ask yourself if what you're about to do or not do is getting you one step closer or one step further away from achieving that body you've dreamed of.

Log your workouts

Progress is by far the best motivator. Everybody gets discouraged when they're putting in the time yet struggling to see results...
You should be recording the number of sets, reps and weight lifted for each workout, after each week you can refer back to your workout log to see how you did and what you need to do the following week to continue to progress.
After you've been recording for a period of time you can flip back to the very start of your workout log as your motivation begins to decline - look at how much you were lifting then and how much you're lifting now, chances are you've bulked up or shredded down a lot too since then - if how far you've come doesn't motivate you to pick yourself up and keep going I don't know what will.

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Get paid to go to the gym

Yes, you actually can get paid to go to the gym. The boys over at The Proper Villain's introduced me to an iPhone/Android app not long ago known as 'Gympact' - I'll have a full review on it soon.
How it essentially works is you make a pact - e.g. I'm going to go to the gym 4 days a week. You will get paid around $1 each time you check into your gym using the GPS location on your phone via the Gympact app. You have to be there for a minimum of 30 minutes for the workout to count.
There's a catch-22 though, each time you fail to make it to the gym you're going to be fined the amount you specified which is a minimum of $5.
Can't afford to lose your hard earned cash? Well you better get your ass to the gym. Gympact can even cover your gym membership fees if you're consistent enough like me (the payout is higher based upon the number of days you commit yourself to going to the gym).

Set an important event

Choose or schedule an upcoming event, preferably  30 - 60 days away.
A high school reunion, summer holiday, photoshoot, family get together - an event that you want to look your best at.

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The trick here is to lock yourself in - want to do a photoshoot? I suggest paying in full beforehand. If you're skipping the gym day after day the photoshoot will approach quicker than you know... you don't want to be out of shape and look unprepared, put in the hard work and save yourself the embarrassment.

If your event is 30 days away and you skip the gym today then you've just lost 1/30th of your opportunity to improve yourself.


Buy new gym apparel/shoes

Sometimes little things like these are enough to get the fire burning inside you again.
Struggling to do cardio? Buy yourself a new pair of gym shoes - you'll be itching to get yourself in the gym to try them out (and chances are you'll be able to perform better too!).
I'm not a materialistic person but when you're dedicated and committed to the gym spending a bit of money on new clothing or even a decent pair of headphones can be the little boost you need to get yourself to the gym.

Make your own killer pre-workout supplement

I swear by my home made pre-workout supplement recipe, you can check it out here.

20~ minutes after consuming your pre-workout drink your mind will be focused and your body will be ready to perform at its highest level, there is absolutely no way you'll want to sit around at home and procrastinate.

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Engage in some friendly rivalry

Engage in some friendly competition with a fellow gym-goer or friend.
This can be anything you want, e.g. who can reach a certain body fat percentage first, who has the lowest body fat percentage on April 1st, who will win the race to being able to bench press 315lbs for 5 reps.
I'm a competitive person by nature so knowing there's someone else gunning for the same end result as me while there can only be one winner gets me fired up and willing to put in those extra hard yards every single workout.
This rivalry can also have a bet or wager attached to it as today I'm sure you won't disagree that money is one of the best motivators of common folk.

Declare your commitment to everyone

Tell everyone, or as many people as possible.
Announce your weight loss or mass gain goals to your friends and family - tell them what you're going to do and by when.
If you want to take it to the next level go on your Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles and make a post containing a photo of where your currently at along with a statement declaring exactly what your goal is in terms of fitness/bodybuilding and when you're going to achieve it by.

See also
Define your Fears, Not your Goals (a lesson in stoicism)

You don't want to look like a fool when the date approaches and people start asking questions about how it worked out for you when you were too lazy to get yourself to the gym.


The techniques I use to get motivated listed above are not ground-breaking or earth shattering.
some will work for you, others may not. The key is to find a motivator that works for you and use it continuously - developing it into a habit over the course of a month.
The real issue isn't the workout or the muscular soreness afterwards, it's the initial step of taking action and actually physically getting into the gym, once you're there the magic will happen.

Don't forget "80% of Success Is Just Showing Up"...

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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