Self-Motivating During a Work Out

7 Jun


We have written a lot about motivation and how it helps you follow through and stick with healthy habits. But let’s say you have found your “why” and you are up and ready for your workout…then what? How to stay motivated throughout your workout to make sure that you aren’t giving it a half ass effort? Hopefully this post will help answer that question!

Self-motivating plays a huge role when you are exercising. A lot of times our minds will tell us to stop when in fact our bodies can handle more. If you are able to motivate yourself, and push yourself past barriers you will be getting the most out of your workouts, and you will be able to improve.

One thing I want to say before I get into the good stuff, is that self-motivating has the word self in it for a reason. It is about how you motivate yourself. So if you are working out with others, please don’t compare yourselves to them because everyone is unique and different. We all have different strengths and weakness’ and at the end of the day you want to do your best – not your best friends best, or your boyfriends best, or the best of that chick beside you in your exercise class!

Alright so now I am ready to get into it -here are some “tricks” we use for self-motivating during workouts.

Start Positive


First of all, you need to start your workouts with a positive mindset – get your head in the game! If you start in a negative place thinking it’s going to be really hard or that you aren’t going to be able to get through it, you probably won’t. You need to start in a good place so that you can end in a good place.

A good way to get into that positive mindset is to think of your “why”. What is it that motivates you to exercise and live healthy? When your workout starts to get tough, think back to your “why” and it might just give you the boost you need.



Visualization can be a great way to self-motivate. Think about where you are now, and where is it that you want to get to. This can be interpreted in a couple different ways. It can be visualizing where you are in terms of your fitness level – for example, you are able to do 5  pull ups but you want to be able to do 10. Visualize yourself doing those 10 pull ups and let that drive you. If you want to look smoking your bikini this summer, visualize yourself on the beach looking amazing, wearing that bikini! It can also mean where you want to be in terms of a location. Right now I am training for the Rideau Lakes tour, so I have been on my bike as often as I can. When I am cycling and finding myself needing some self-motivation, one of the tools I use is visualizing that last stretch of the ride. Picturing myself going up that last (steep!) hill, and onto the road leading to the finish really helps to motivated and drive me to push myself right to the end. Using your imagination can be an extremely powerful tool when exercising.

Get Comfortable being Uncomfortable



In order for you to progress you need to be pushing yourself. So, your workout should never get to the point where it is easy. If it’s easy, it’s not worth it, you will not improve- so make it harder. You want your workout to be difficult; you want to be challenged by it – that’s the point! As a wise man (Shaun T) once said “The work doesn’t start until you’re tired”. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable-tell yourself that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and let your body feel changes happening and progress being made. When you are tired, and uncomfortable that is when change is made – if you keep this in mind while you are working out, it may just help you continue to push through!

Aim for Improvement/Set Mini Goals



As you know, I have been training for a sprint triathlon. The biking and running parts didn’t intimidate me, but the swimming…well that scared the crap out of me. You see, I am was not a swimmer. I have very curly, high maintenance hair, which means yes; I am one of those people who don’t like getting their hair wet. The first time I went to the pool I did one length and was exhausted. I had no idea how my lungs or my body would ever be able to handle doing 47 more of them!  But, I told myself that I would and could improve. Every time I go to the pool I aim to do better than the last time, and so far so good! Your improvements don’t have to be extreme, any improvement is good. Set mini goals for yourself during your workout. For example “for this set of bicep curls I am going to have perfect form”, or “for this set of squat jumps I am going to squat lower and jump higher”. These mini goals give you something specific to work towards during your workout and achieving them will feel great and motivate you to keep going.

Write Things Down



When you are working out, we recommend writing everything down. How many reps did you do? How much weight did you use? Was it easy? Should you increase your weight? This is a great way to track your progress, and seeing your workout results on paper can be a strong motivator. If you didn’t do as well as you had hoped it can light a fire under your ass to work harder next time, and if you did do well, it can give you an ego boost and encourage you to do even better the next time. So before you start the exercise, check to see how you did the last time you did it and let that motivate you to match it or improve upon it.

Talk to Yourself


This may sound crazy, but I know for me personally this is one of my go to ways to self-motivate. You don’t have to talk to yourself out loud (although when I am alone climbing in Gatineau Park I totally do J ), you can talk to yourself in your head. Give yourself positive affirmations like “good job” “you’ve got this” “you are strong” “you are powerful”. Anything you can think of to empower yourself. Don’t put limitations on what you can do, and be your number one cheer leader! You’d be amazed at how powerful words can be and how much they can motivate you.

Give Yourself Checkpoints


This is another one of my go-to self-motivating tools, especially when I am doing any sort of cardio workout. I break the workout down and give myself checkpoints. For example, when I am running I will give myself checkpoints along the way, they can be anything from certain street lamp, a building, a bridge…it all depends on what you pass on your route. When I am swimming, I break my session into blocks of laps and countdown each block before starting the next. By breaking my workouts up this way I am able to self-motivate to get to each one. Once you reach a checkpoint you will feel a sense of accomplishment and that feeling will drive you to the next checkpoint and so on.

Be Present



When you are exercising it is easy to think about what you are going to have for dinner, what happened at work that day, what your plans are for the weekend…basically anything other than the task at hand. But this is no good. Not only can it mean you may risk injuring yourself due to lack of focus, it also means you probably aren’t doing your best. In order to do any of the “tricks” I talked about above, you need to be in the moment. Put all other thoughts out of your brain, and focus on what you are doing in the moment and the purpose behind it. Being present will put you in the right head space to be able to self-motivate.

Be Self-Forgiving


Part of being self-motivating is being able to be self-forgiving. There will be times that you will “fail” and won’t do as well as you wanted even with using these self-motivating tools.  But that’s okay. It happens. The key is to be self-forgiving so that you can dust yourself off and try again- just like Alia taught us J. No one is perfect; so no workout will be perfect, there will always be room for improvement. If you are able to forgive yourself for your “failures” and reflect on what went wrong, or where you could have done better you will be able to apply yourself and do better the next time. Have the courage to continue. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

When you are exercising it is important to keep in mind that the effort you put in during that workout will be how you get yourself closer to your why. There may be moments when you think you can’t do it – but you can. You would be amazed at what we can train our bodies to do!

When you do succeed – celebrate those successes. If you have put in the work, and accomplished a goal, reward yourself for that – just try to do it in a healthy way so that you don’t undo all your hard work! Believe it or not, celebrating these successes is a motivating tool in itself. That “you did good” feeling is a great one – and knowing what it feels like will drive you to try and achieve it again.

Being able to self-motivate will not only help you out during a workout – it can help in other aspects of your life as well. It is important to always believe in yourself and not be afraid to push yourself. You have the power within yourself to succeed!



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