The "meh" workouts
What do you do when you arrive at the gym and you're just not feeling it? Perhaps it's been a slow day; you've been feeling lethargic, and the idea of working hard and pushing yourself just sounds dreadful. I've had one too many of these experiences. Sometimes, I would arrive at the gym, get dressed and ready, before giving up and walking straight home again. On other occasions, I would make it halfway through a workout until that compulsion to quit overwhelmed my rational drive. So how can we overcome this?
Before I get into this, I would just like to note that the "meh" workouts are okay! We all have these kinds of days- or even a few days- but they are perfectly acceptable. No matter your experience or confidence, it can happen to you. And, sometimes, you have to let it win. If it's better for you, go home and recharge yourself with a little self-care so that you're ready to come back strong for next time. But if you're determined to power through, I've got some ideas that may help...
Short-term fixes are ideal for if you very rarely feel low on energy in the gym, and you're looking for something quick and efficient to feel like your normal self.
- New music
When you've been listening to the same music for weeks on end, it can be easy for the ritualistic playlists to be reflected in your mood. After all, when you're listening to music, it's as if you're playing a soundtrack for your life. So why not mix it up a little and find some fresh new songs to get you in the zone?
- Get moving
Personally, I have found that sometimes your body needs a bit of a kick start to get ready to work. Something as simple as jumping on the treadmill for a few minutes is enough to start secreting endorphins, the feel-good hormones, to get yourself fired up and out of that slump. There have been many times where I've had to practice self-discipline to even get to the treadmill, but once I'm running for a good 2-3 minutes, I can almost feel myself getting lighter and stronger.
- Treat yourself to new gear
If you've been wearing the same leggings, shorts, and tops, or still using your old faded resistance bands, maybe investing in something new can get you excited to start working. It's always fun to go shopping for yourself, so splashing out on a fancy pair of leggings (or even something basic like liquid chalk) will encourage you to take it for a spin.
- Experiment with different exercises
Doing the same exercises can start to get a little boring. As well as this, your muscles will soon get used to the unchanging exercises, which can limit progress. Something that I have found successful to keep me working hard is experimenting with new exercises that I always wanted to try, but never quite felt brave enough. You can do this by trying a machine you have never used before, learning a new free-weight exercise from YouTube, or perhaps practising a different stance. But PLEASE never try an exercise that could cause harm to yourself or others. If you are unsure if you are performing the exercise correctly, ask a member of staff for advice.
- Eat a pre-workout meal that makes you smile :)
What you eat before the gym can make a significant impact on how your session goes; some people choose to eat very little, whereas others may opt for a grand feast to give them the energy they need. This largely depends on what kind of training you do, of course, but you also need to consider your preferences. If you don't want to eat apple slices with peanut butter, then don't! Who cares if some fitness Instagrammer swears by it? If it works for them- great! But if doesn't work for you, find something that does.
These ideas are most helpful for if "meh" days are becoming more regular. Doubtless, these are more difficult to implement, but old habits die hard. If you are frequently feeling lazy and unmotivated in the gym, bigger changes are likely needed to get you back on track.
- Switch up the plan
When following a fitness plan, or a guide that tells you what exercises to do and how, the first few weeks can be amazing and you can see great results. However, as soon as your body and mind become accustomed to this, it can suddenly hinder progress and become more and more boring to follow. Depending on your training style and preference, you can switch it up every couple of weeks, or every couple of months. Incorporate small changes (like swapping seated leg curls for lying leg curls) or big changes (taking a de-load phase or incorporating brand new exercises). For me, I like the keep the basics consistent; I complete squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, etc, routinely in most workouts, progressively overloading as my training develops. This is so that I can focus on strengthening the basics, while keeping the more isolating exercises different and fun each time.
-Invest in pre-workout
Bulk-purchasing pre-workout can seem costly, especially if you aren't fully aware of what it does. But, it can be very effective in giving you extra drive and focus in a session, while also supplying your body with additional nutrients that benefit your muscular health. Although, when buying any supplement, you must be confident that it is the real deal. Check that the product is third-party verified (meaning examined and tested by a company that does not profit from the product), read reviews, and find stores that are legitimate. My favourite sites for buying supplements are Women's Best and My Protein.
- Consider a personal trainer
If you have reached a point in your journey where you're feeling truly stuck, then I would suggest looking into personal training. Yes, they can appear rather expensive, which is why I would only suggest this option if you really do not think you can surpass this plateau on your own. As well as pushing through plateaus, personal trainers can help you in learning more effective workouts, or gaining deeper insight into the mechanics and science behind it. A few months ago, I decided to give it a go for a few sessions: I found the sessions extremely helpful and satisfying- I was always so sore afterwards (which is a great feeling when you've been doing this for a while). Since then, I am confident that my training structure and nutrition composition will get me to my goals. I am also more confident in myself; I can identify the correct form and apply the techniques I have learnt to new exercises. But before making any final decisions, make sure you check their qualifications and background to ensure your money is well spent.
These are only a few ideas that can help to get you through the "meh" workouts- but they have all worked really well for me (I may do a part 2 some time in the future). Remember: it is okay to go home. Sometimes, the voice telling you to take a break is the voice of reason. Always, always, always prioritise yourself and your happiness!