How to Prevent Working Out from Becoming a Chore
Working out (or training as some prefer to call it) should be fun, motivating, and something you participate in for the rest of your life in one way or another. Strength training should be a journey with different destinations plotted out along the way.
Your destinations can include various goals — losing a few excess pounds of body fat, accomplishing a deadlift goal, dominating your bodyweight by training to achieve 10+ pull-ups, learning a new lift, improving your conditioning level, or any other training goals you choose.
However, there will be times when you just don’t want to train. There will be times when working out is no longer fun. Heck, perhaps for you, it’s never been fun.
If you find yourself viewing your workouts as another chore you have to do, then keep reading. It’s time to start enjoying your training.
Warning Signs that Working Out is Becoming a Chore
Just like a blinking light in the dash of your car tells you it’s time to get your car serviced, the following signs tell you it may be time to change up your training program, or how you approach working out all together. Ignore either and the damage is more difficult, and costly, to repair later when you finally address the situation.
Basically, if something is wrong now, don’t wait until it blows up to fix the problem.
Your Enthusiasm for Training Wanes
This is usually the first thing that happens, and it’s completely normal. There will always be days when you don’t want to work out. However, if you notice this occurring more frequently and for greater periods of time, then something might need to change.
Some people encourage you to just suck it up and stay the course; keep following the training program you’re on and don’t change a thing. This can be good advice for some people, but, and this applies to me — this can do more harm than good.
If my training motivation decreases significantly for more than a couple of weeks, I know it’s time for a change. And I usually respond by changing my training program. I’ll elaborate on this more in a few moments.
You Dread Going to the Gym
Similar to losing training motivation, you know you’re in trouble if you completely dread going to the gym. Instead of being excited about improving your performance and getting stronger, the last thing you want to do is step foot in the gym. This is a classic warning sign that working out is becoming a chore.
You Don’t Stay Focused or Engaged with Your Workouts
When you’re training, you should be focused on the task at hand and not day-dreaming. You should be focused on improving your performance and performing every rep with completely attention and determination.
If you find yourself just going through the motions and not focusing on every rep, then something may need to change.
You Start Skipping Workouts
You know working out is becoming a chore when you start skipping workouts. Granted, some people who skip workouts are lazy or making excuses, but they’re not the individuals I’m addressing here.
If you’re a dedicated trainee and you always get to the gym for a scheduled workout, you know you’re in trouble when you dread your workouts so much that you start skipping one here and there.
How to Prevent Working Out from Becoming Another Chore
You have several options when it comes to keeping your workouts from becoming just another chore you feel obligated to do. The method you choose to employ depends on your personality, equipment availability, and training age. For example, an intermediate to advanced trainee has more wiggle room because they’re more in-tune with their body. A beginner trainee, on the other hand, will be better off sticking to a set program.
I’ll admit that some of the following suggestions could be considered strength training blasphemy, but I’m more concerned with you enjoying your workouts and performing them consistently long-term than I am about having you follow some golden rules only to burn out from training next week.
Change Your Point of View
Maybe you simply need to tweak your perspective when it comes to working out. Perhaps you look at working out in a negative way. Maybe you treat your workouts as a form of self-punishment instead of an opportunity to challenge yourself and see what you’re capable of doing.
The simple solution for you could be looking at training in a positive way.
Do Something Completely Different
Perhaps you just need a change of pace. Maybe you need a new training goal, like trying to get crazy strong if you’ve been focusing on fat loss or building muscle. Maybe you should start using different training tools, or no tools at all and training exclusively with bodyweight workouts for a few weeks.
Maybe you can start training with total body workouts if you’re used to upper/lower splits, or vice versa. Just do something totally different whether that means using a different training split, new exercises, different training tools (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises, strongman equipment, etc), or setting up new challenges such as getting stronger in a few key exercises of your choice.
Doing something completely different is what I’ve been doing lately. I set a new training goal of performing handstand push-ups, and set up my training program accordingly. Yesterday I achieved that goal. Because bodyweight workouts and handstand push-ups were a completely different way of training than I was accustomed to, I had a blast with my workouts and looked forward to them.
How can you changes things up so training is fun again? What goals can you set to make this happen? Perhaps you can add some fun, motivating and challenging Workout Finishers at the end of your workout (this has been a personal favorite of mine lately).
Take a Deload Week, or Two
You may just need to take a deload week. If you’ve been pushing hard in the gym for weeks, or even months, non-stop, you’d probably do well with scaling back the training volume and intensiveness for a week or two. This will give your body and mind a break from the hard training.
After a week or two from training without so much intensity, you’ll more than likely be ready to go afterward with a refreshed attitude toward your training program.
Have you been training all out for weeks and months on end? Perhaps a deload will get you excited to train hard again.
Get out of the Gym, Completely
Some people will hate this option, and others will love it. In my experience, people do well with taking a gym-fast every few months. For a week or two, stay out of the gym completely. Take this time to explore other physical activities and hobbies so you’re still moving and staying active, but doing so in a completely different way.
Not only does this provide your body, and mind, a break from heavy and hard training, but you can also discover some new hobbies. Explore your area and see what new physical activities you can get involved in.
Say Good-Bye to the Training Journal (for Now, Anyway)
This one was very difficult for me, but I ditched the training journal recently for about two weeks. I’m very anal about recording all of my workouts and have been for many years. However, I found myself focusing too much on the training journal, and I just wanted to step back and have some fun.
If you’re like me and write down every little thing you do in the gym, you can try putting the journal aside for a week or two and just have fun in the gym. Don’t worry about setting PRs or anything like that. Just go in there and have some fun. This provided me with a huge mental relief and it’s something I’ll do again down the road when I need to keep my training fun.
Set New Training Goals That Get You Excited
This is similar to the first point above. Set a training goal, or goals, that get you excited to get into the gym. Perhaps that means learning a new exercise, building up your deadlift, dominating your bodyweight with advanced bodyweight exercises, getting outside and running hill sprints, or anything else you can think of achieving.
Sit down and think of some goals you’d like to achieve, write them down, come up with a plan of action, and get to it!
Maybe You Need a Plan
Some people always go to the gym without a plan. They show up, decide what they want to do on the fly, and then just play around.
If you’ve never followed a set training program, now may be the time. Having a set plan can keep you motivated and excited to train because you always know what you have to do when you’re in the gym. There’s no guess work because you know the goal you have to achieve every training day.
You can get in, do what you have to do, and leave. Oftentimes you’ll spend less time working out than you’re used to because the program keeps you on track. If you want a plan of action with zero guess work that will get you in and out of the gym quickly, then check out Beautiful Badass.
There will always be days when you just don’t want to workout; that’s fine and is to be expected. But if you find yourself viewing working out as another chore you’ve gotta check off your to-do list, it may be time for a change.
Use the information in this article and make training fun again and don’t allow working out to become a chore.