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Gym Motivation - 34 Orthodox and Unorthodox Ways Get Motivated to Workout (Part I)

Gym Motivation
(Orthodox Suggestions)

What's happening Losers?

In this long overdue discussion, I'm going to tell you what I have personally done to get motivated to hit the gym.

We'll discuss both the orthodox and the not-so-orthodox methods in our 3-part series on "Gym Motivation".

These suggestions should get the ball rolling so you can get on auto-pilot and not really need them anymore.

I'm first going to discuss and comment on some mainstream approaches to gym motivation and tell you how to make those even better. Then I'll cover some more outside-the-box suggestions in Part II and III.

This topic "How to Get Motivated to Go to the Gym," isn't an obscure one.

We see the same generic mainstream suggestions over-and-over (make it fun!, just motivate yourself!, etc.).

It's not that the usual suggestions are "wrong" or "bad" - but they are usually a bit incomplete since they usually aren't written by former insecure meatheads - such as myself - that dedicated thousands of hours to the gym and the lifestyle.

I spent ~16 months as a personal trainer in Los Angeles (largely in Beverly Hills) where I came to see that my job was more of a 'therapist' or 'friend' than personal trainer. There were numerous days that I got paid hundreds of dollars and I did nothing but go to lunch with my client. Sometimes I got a free sandwich from Whole Foods too.

More importantly - I have over a decade of experience of hitting the gym on a regular basis, both as a natural trainee and a juicehead.

Last year, however, I wasn't as motivated and only went to the gym about 30 times (down from my previous average of about 180-200 or ~4 days a week).

So maybe I can get something from this too.

 meathead cartoon

Orthodox Ways to Get Motivated for the Gym

#1 Get a Personal Trainer or a Dedicated Friend

This seems to be the #1 suggestion among mainstream publications. It works well too.

Some people think that hiring a personal trainer is a "scam" because he won't actually teach you anything that you can't learn on the Internet. While this might be true, the same can be said about any college professor or anyone that has written a non-fiction book. Hiring a personal trainer is almost entirely a motivation move - and a good one at that - if you have the money.

Make sure to pick a trainer that ALREADY HAS the body type you want. In general, private personal trainers (Google them) are exponentially better than the trainers in the uniform black shirts at public gym such as Gold's or Equinox.

Finding a dedicated friend, however, isn't as easy.

I've only had 1 full-time training partner in my life. I got lucky. He was the eventual Mr. Tampa and I have never been around someone who cared so much about building the perfect [bodybuilder] body.

In 2005, when I was in Southern California playing inline hockey, I joined a University of Florida Facebook group called "I Can Bench 400lbs". He was the group ADMIN and we just started talking. We trained together for over 2 years and I learned a lot from Mr. Tampa. It was a great situation; he would come over to my apartment and pick me up every time, train until we couldn't move and we'd eat ridiculously high amounts of calories after our 2 hour workouts. Fun times.

Most people aren't so lucky (or dedicated).

For the first few weeks, new training partners are usually beneficial.

Things can quickly become counter-productive however - waiting for the other person to show up, uncertain if he is going to train that day, on vs. off days.

I don't suggest this one unless you can find someone who is MORE DEDICATED than you.

#2 Start Small and Schedule Easy, Doable Workouts

I like this one.

The worst thing you can do is give someone who hates the gym a 2 hour professional bodybuilder workout from Muscle & Fitness magazine. No "Rocky Mentality". That will lead to burnout.

I say - go for 25 minutes in the first week.

Yup, just 25 minutes.

Every other day, or just Monday-Wednesday-Friday.

Chances are - you'll be motivated to stay for more time.

Also, it's important that you focus on WORKING OUT HARD.

The smaller the window of time - the more you naturally push yourself. Go hard for 25 minutes.

The psychology of getting people in shape is similar to getting guys over their approach anxiety - baby steps toward attainable goals.

Increase the planned gym time by 5 minutes - every 15 days.

lifestyle cartoon

#3 Go to the Gym in the Morning aka "Get It Over With"

If you are following our weight loss diet, you SHOULD BE working out in the morning on an empty stomach since it burns 300% more fat than training in a fed state.

There's other advantages to training in the morning -

The major advantage for the less motivated is that YOU ARE DONE before you start your day.

You don't have to think, "Do I have enough energy..." "How am I going to do this workout later today..." "I hate going to a packed gym..." for the rest of the day.

You are DONE.

It's worth it.

Every college football and college hockey program does their strength/resistance training first thing in the morning. Most programs train super hard for 40 minutes and it's over with. It builds discipline and keeps them leaner than if they trained in the afternoon.

If you are a regular smoker - you need to be training in the morning. It helps force your lungs into action and has a positive effect on dopamine levels that are used to being stimulated by nicotine first thing in the morning.

#4 Just Get to the Gym

Another solid suggestion.

The hardest part is often just simply getting to the gym.

If you can accomplish that - the actual working out seems to come naturally.

Once you get to the gym - you'll probably force yourself through at least some of your workout. And Every little bit counts.

Take suggestion #2 and you should be able to finish a 25 minute workout.

It's rare that a person will drive to the gym and then walk out without doing a little something.

Even if you unenthusiastically have to 'go through the motions' - just get in there.

Even if it's for just 15 minutes.

Cartoon guy on threadmill

#5 Have Goals
(Have 1 Very Specific Attainable Goal)

This suggestion is part of just about every mainstream 'gym motivation' article.

The problem is - the author rarely addresses how to structure these goals.

You need ONE SPECIFIC GOAL that includes TWO before/after specific quantitative figures and a specific deadline no longer than 14 weeks.

For example:


Drop from ~17% bodyfat to 7% bodyfat by April 20th.
(this is my current goal)

I suggest adding at least 14 days to however long you think it's going to take - this ensures that is it attainable.

Goal revised (+14 Days)-

Drop from ~17% bodyfat to 7% bodyfat by May 4th.

Notice that my goal DOES NOT include weight, strength, measurements, etc.

Setting weight, strength, measurement, etc. goals makes it TWO GOALS.

You can use those as the measuring stick (rather than bodyfat %) but HAVE ONE GOAL.

If you are REALLY struggling then here is your goal-

"Go to the gym for 20 minutes today..."

Once you have that down, then set a specific quantitative fitness goal with a specific deadline.

#6 Try Something New at the Gym

Most gyms have various classes that you can sign up for - they are usually free aka part of your membership. Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Crossfit, etc.

Higher-end health clubs have an array of cardiovascular equipment, swimming, boxing, kettlebells, racquetball, rock climbing and basketball courts.

If hitting the weights is getting boring - pick something else to do in addition to (or in lieu) of the weights.

Even if Yoga, Zumba, Pilates classes seem "gay" - the main goal for the unmotivated is to GET TO THE GYM.

If you do 20 minutes of some silly class and then hit the weights for 20 minutes - consider it a win.

I've been playing basketball on the regular at the gym, I'm excited to do so and it makes the gym trip easier.

I hit the weights for 20-25 minutes and then I play basketball, which is more exciting to me these days.
(the diet [that keeps blood sugar nearly completely stable] does the fat burning)

If you aren't down with the classes - just change up your workout. Incorporating just ONE new exercise can make things more fun.

Even if going to the stream room or sauna is your only motivation to hit the gym - it's better than not going.

boxing cartoon

#7 Carry a Motivational Picture With You

This was a common mainstream suggestion. I was surprised - it's not a bad idea.

Carry a picture that looks like the body you want to have (or a hot girl that is in shape).

Look at it every 10 minutes if you have to - just get your work done.

I've never done this, but I've put motivational videos and images of athletes on my iPod - which is basically the same thing.

#8 Schedule Your Gym Visits Around TV Times (Cardio)

This is a suggestion for those that do cardiovascular training.

I don't expect this to be anything a committed guy should even consider.

If there is something on TV that you want to watch (or just something that will easily pass the time) then visit the gym around that time.

I don't really watch any TV but I'll happily watch Mike & Mike on ESPN if it's on. I'll make a point to hit the gym between 4am and 8pm when the show is on.

Responsible planners will get to the gym 30-40 minutes before their TV shows, hit the weights and then hit the cardio to watch their show/distraction.

kettlebell cartoon

#9 Take Before/After, Weekly Progress Pictures

I've actually started doing this when I was 17 or 18 years old.

I also did it here-

It's good to track progress and motivate.

It's even better to build accountability.

I won't let a week go by where I'm not at least slightly better than the week before.

Post them online if you want to be even more accountable.
(it's not arrogant if you are fat to start with)

Don't expect a friendly/any reaction from guys that are out of shape - get used to it.

Pictures at age 19-

beachweek2abs sfeng

#10 Stock the Fridge With Healthful Food That You Have To Eat
(throw out the processed snacks and sugar-laden garbage foods)

This is a 2-part suggestion.

I suggest, usually on a Sunday, that you buy all the healthful food you have to eat for the week.

Just get it into your fridge.

You are going to have to eat it - or else it will go bad and be a waste of money.

At the same time, throw out any and all processed food, garbage snacks, candy and whatever crap that doesn't belong in your fridge or your body.

You might think, "damn this is a waste of money..." or "maybe I should keep it, just in case I'm hungry..."

No - throw it out.
(if you are really against this - find a local charity or homeless man and donate the food)

Yeah it was a waste of money. It was a stupid decision to buy it in the first place.

Feeling that you wasted money on something is a good way to refrain from purchasing it again.

These 2 steps ensure that the only food in your house is the food you should be eating.

#11 Start a Fitness & Nutrition Log
(Ideally an Online Journal)

Although I’m not a huge fan of keeping a journal – I’m less of a fan of inconsistency and a lack of accountability.

Keeping an online journal (approximately or less than 200 words a day) of what you ate and what you did in the gym is undeniably helpful for guys that lack motivation.

I did this when I was in my early 20’s. In fact, here is a journal of my very first cycle I ever did.

Logging what you did in the gym and ate is helpful but you might want to consider staying 1 day ahead and writing EXACTLY what you are going to do.

Members of the Good Looking Loser ‘Get Ripped’ Forum are very supportive and you will receive quality answers to your questions – often in less than an hour.

Big gaps in journal entries can be embarrassing and you will naturally feel more accountable for your training and diet if you have a training log.

If you want to go the extra mile – post WEEKLY pictures too.

This only improves your chances for absolute victory.

Cartoon Prisoner Crawling

#12 Don’t Get Down On Yourself If You Slip Up
(Just Fix It)

Not to suggest that fitness and nutrition and drug rehabilitation are similar – both are undeniably part of an overall lifestyle.

Chances are – YOU WILL MISS A DAY.

You will probably miss 3 in a row at some point.


These are simply challenges – not failures.

Quitting is the only failure.

Unlike some things in life - it is inevitable that you reach your fitness goal if you keep trying.

The key is to not go on an unhealthy binge for more than 24 hours.

Learn to persevere rather than indulge.

#13 Drink Enough Water

At least 1 gallon a day. Coffee, diet soda, tea and BCAA’s (while critical for preserving muscle) DO NOT count as water.

Drink real water.

As a rule of thumb – make sure your urine is nearly clear ALL DAY LONG.

That includes when you pee in the morning.

Taking a B-Vitamin complex (or our recommended multivitamin) will turn your pee a neon yellow.

Just know the difference.

#14 Get Enough Sleep

8 hours or more.

Perhaps obvious - this is one of the most important suggestions.

A lot of guys that aren’t motivated or can’t get to the gym are simply suffering from sleep deprivation or adrenal fatigue.

When this becomes a habit – it kills your testosterone levels and human growth hormone production.

Sleep is the most crucial aspect of overall recovery and one of the most crucial to changing your body composition.

panda sleeping cartoon

Thus ends the list of 'Orthodox Suggestions'.

Perhaps you have already considered or already practice most of these - but let this serve as a reminder of small measures that can make a big difference.

Next round we will talk some about some Unorthodox Suggestions - suggestions that will be less obvious and more controversial.  

For further suggestions, exclusive to the Good Looking Loser Fat Loss Diet, check out this post-

Part II of this article is continued here-

  1. “Orthodox and Unorthodox Ways to Get Motivation to Hit the Gym (Part II)”
Gym Motivation - 34 Orthodox and Unorthodox Ways G...
Oliver Stone - The Untold History of the United St...

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Comments (31)

  1. Derrek Vigor

Chris have you ever had injuries that prevented you from going to the gym? How did you cope with it? Im going through this right now, have a slightly seperated shoulder and it will take at least a year for it to heal..I can do some very light...

Chris have you ever had injuries that prevented you from going to the gym? How did you cope with it? Im going through this right now, have a slightly seperated shoulder and it will take at least a year for it to heal..I can do some very light workouts but only do a handful of exercises.

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  1. lucas    Derrek Vigor

Hey Derrek, I follow your blog too man haha

I've dislocated my right shoulder 9 times, and the tenth is NOT going to happen.

This "slightly separated" you say might be from bad posture. Your scapula can be hyper-extended, leaving the rotator...

Hey Derrek, I follow your blog too man haha

I've dislocated my right shoulder 9 times, and the tenth is NOT going to happen.

This "slightly separated" you say might be from bad posture. Your scapula can be hyper-extended, leaving the rotator cuff in a bad position Youtube Elliott Hulse for posture of shoulder, you should get a good idea of the biomechanics in shoulder use.

Furthermore, I'm doing shoulder stabilization exercises such as TYWL, Check this out, it helped me for the time being

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  1. Derrek Vigor    lucas

Lucas awesome stuff, definitely gonna check that site out!

  1. Good Looking Loser    Derrek Vigor

Hey - yeah I have -- 4 knee surgeries. I opted for surgery, did the rehab and it healed.

You still can get a tremendous body without being that strong or training for strength.
(if that is your goal)

  1. Balaclava Blogger

Hey Chris,

What would you say is the optimal amount of sleep? Wake up without an alarm? It gets difficult when I am so busy to try to sleep maximal amount.


Hey BB - it sorta depends.

I'm good with 6.5-7hours of sleep. But I also I have high-normal HGH, testosterone, etc.

I don't really have a schedule so I just make sure to get about 6-7hours of sleep. I stay up for 20+ hours at a time thanks to...

Hey BB - it sorta depends.

I'm good with 6.5-7hours of sleep. But I also I have high-normal HGH, testosterone, etc.

I don't really have a schedule so I just make sure to get about 6-7hours of sleep. I stay up for 20+ hours at a time thanks to Kratom though.

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  1. Mark the Great

Chris, this post find me so very useful. Now I know what to do when I go to the gym. I'm not a fan of going to the gym, but right now, after reading all this, My mind set has been changed and planning to go to the gym and register to start...

Chris, this post find me so very useful. Now I know what to do when I go to the gym. I'm not a fan of going to the gym, but right now, after reading all this, My mind set has been changed and planning to go to the gym and register to start working out.

Read More
  1. The Man

This post is very informative. Now i know how to go to the gym properly. Hoping to get some good results in my workout.. Thank you so much for this blog. I'm so grateful.

  1. lucas

Chris, is this good for you? to go from 7% to 17% in a year and back to 7% in some months?
It's not just gain fat/muscle, lose fat/muscle. That kind of yo-yo doesn't fuck you up? mentally or otherwise?
thanks in advance

  1. Good Looking Loser    lucas

Hey Lucas-
It's totally fine if you meeting your nutritional needs and within healthful bodyfat ranges.

  1. Ace

I only get probably around 5 to 6 hours of sleep. Sometimes when I sleep longer than that, my whole body does not feel if everything feels really heavy.

  1. Riley

I'm already practicing taking before/after progress pictures. It's the keeping of a journal that I just can't bring myself to do. Nice discussion, simple yet very practical.

  1. Alvin

After I hit the weights for a few minutes sometimes it gets a little boring and I usually go play soccer/basketball to have fun. It keeps the monotonous feeling off.

  1. soft tail

i love the idea of scheduling your gym visits around TV times. i should have thought of that a long time ago.

  1. harvey

I usually go to the gym in the evening after work hours. I'm not really a morning person that's why I do it at night. I didn't know that there's so much advantages to training in the morning than at night.

  1. Good Looking Loser    harvey

Yeah for fat loss -- morning is where its at.

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