What Should You Do When You Aren't Feeling It In The Gym?
It happens to us all.
You just aren't feeling it in the gym anymore!
You've loved it for years and now suddenly BOOM! You can't be bothered to train anymore.
All is lost and you are destined to be out of shape, weak and out of breath for the rest of your life as your gains slowly melt away to nothingness!!!!
Luckily the above isn't the case.
The following article should help us explore different options as to what to do should you stop feeling it in the gym.
When an athlete or general person falls out of love with training it's normally not the training that's actually going wrong. It's something else that's going wrong that isn't allowing your mind to be motivated or to feel training.
In my coaching I have a list of things that normally suddenly make the most dedicated people fall out of love with training:
Going on holiday
A New Relationship
As well as all the other obvious stuff like deaths, illnesses and other child-related things.
We'll address some strategies for all of the above situations below to help you train around the demands of life.
Moving house is always so stressful. Sleep takes a massive hit. You are moving your entire life from place to place. Sometimes that place is entirely unfamiliar. Sometimes you might have to move to an entirely different country!
When moving house I'd recommend you stick to your regimented training times where possible. Have a gym you've already checked out before you move so when you do you have somewhere to go to relieve your stress rather than crying in your unfinished, leaking kitchen where the boiler is about to explode shortly after realising your cat has run away.
If you've spent all day moving stuff and you are genuinely wrecked, use that time to prep some food, go for a walk or do something that is "working on you" that keeps you in the routine of "working on you."
This will aid you a great deal in not going off the rails each time you have to miss a gym session.
The time away from sorting the house will actually help you be more productive when you are there.
I know it's hard and I know the stress of moving might actually be causing you to think about anything but training, but keeping the habit going is the best thing to do.
Often moving involves a lot of heavy lifting, twisting and generally lugging things upstairs so around this kind of time it's normally a good idea to throw in more mobility, breathing drills and maybe the odd 20 minute youtube yoga class.
When moving house it's not normally the best to try and hit a 1 rep max deadlift. Mobility, moving, and doing stuff that you enjoy is going to be the most successful strategy. Thinking about dropping your days down to 2-3 sessions rather than 4-5 normally takes some of the pressure off too.
If you still don't feel like you can make it to the gym having some resistance bands and a suspension trainer (a small investment for how much you can do with the two of them) means that a workout is possible anywhere.
I know, I know, a bodyweight workout is possible anywhere but who really takes that seriously? Having some equipment that helps you like "right, it's time to train!" normally helps people get into the swing of training in an easier way.
Going On Holiday
My advice to most people while on holiday is just to enjoy the holiday and to pick active things to do. If you have a competition coming up you may need to adopt a different strategy and source places to train and things like that.
This section will focus on how to get back into things once you are home form your travels.
Holidays are often like competitions in that people train really hard for them and then don't know how to get motivated afterwards.
Having a coach who already has you booked into the gym after your holiday is normally a good way to get right back into the swing of things.
Having a training partner can help too but with my experience of training partners they can often be more of a hindrance rather than a help but a coach is normally relying on you to pay the bills at the end of the month so will go out of their way to make sure you are on track.
If you can't afford a coach having some kind of program to jump onto or a new focus in training like strength or something normally helps you jump right back into training with a new found enthusiasm.
The same normally applies to changing jobs. The stress of the additional training, the new routine and the new people you have to spend all your time with all contribute to loads of stress and not feeling training.
If you have a coach you may ask them to mix things up, you might reduce the amount of sessions you have to do per week down to 2-3 and graudally as your routine becomes more normal you can get back up to speed with your normal training load.
Often just pushing through isn't the most effective answer.
Training leading up to a competition is almost always ridiculously repetitive, hard and risky. Not to mention mentally draining. This is the hardest time to not feel training.
Luckily for most the sheer pressure of training is enough to keep people going until after the competition.
Interestingly enough these people who are kept going through the sheer pressure of competition are usually the ones who suffer the most from competition blues.
I'm digressing again.
If you have a competition and you want to do as well as you can you don't really have a choice other than to suck it up and get on with it. It's just how it is. If you are injured this is an entirely different story.
Having a coach in the build up to a competition takes the most pressure off because you are not second guessing yourself all the time. You can just go the gym and get on with whatever your coach assigns you.
This is THE MOST helpful if you are a control freak in my experience. Letting a few things go (like the planning of your training) can help you have more mental resources to deal with whatever is going on elsewhere in your life without having to worry about planning your strength cycle as well.
I practice what I preach with this one. I have my own coach and it is the best thing I ever did. I realised I hadn't enjoyed training in a meaningful way for a number of years.
My coach helped me turn that around without even knowing that he was helping in that way.
As an athlete you are normally fairly in love with the sport you are competing in due to some sick kind of Stockholm syndrome where you feel like it's all you have. That's normally the case until you give it up. So it's normally something big in the build up to a competition that stops you from feeling it.
So ask yourself a number of questions like:
Is this competition as important as the issue causing me not to feel it? If the issue is bigger than the competition and the competition is getting in the way too much you might want to think about entering a different competition unless it's a competition you may never get to do again like the olympics.
Will the issue pass quickly enough to not effect my performance? If the issue will pass in a few days or a couple of weeks to a month you might be able to ride it out. You may just need to accept training will suck or feel like it sucks for a while. These issues are usually always accompanied by poor sleep in a nice double whammy of suckage.
While riding out issues like this be sure to take me time. Even if it's 2 minutes of laying down focussing on your breathing a couple of times a week. When your life is all GO! GO! GO! It's the easiest thing in the world to forget to look after yourself especially when it comes to mental health.
Could I reach out and talk to someone about my problems? It's true. A problem shared takes the mental load down. You feel better and the other person normally has a sensible suggestion that you hadn't thought of or can confirm what you though all along but you didn't want to accept.
Am I writing to-do lists and organising my life effectively?
If you don't actually know what you have to do you can't be anything but stressed. Get everything written down so you can tackle things one at a time rather than having to worry about remembering AS WELL.
It can seem overwhelming at first but as you get everything on paper you can refine it into smaller tasks and start to feel like you are getting things done and finally getting things under control.
This rule should apply during every stage in life, but in competition time where pressure is usually the highest. Having good habits in the build up can take soooooo much stress off your table and help you enjoy training for as long as possible or at least to be okay with the horrific grind that takes place when you are building up to a big competition.
Post-comp blues are feelings of depression and sadness once a competition is over and the pressure to train has disappeared which often causes big losses in motivation and training and fitness levels drop down due to detraining.
Plan ahead. Plan and be ready for the post-comp blues. Have a plan for afterwards. Having some coaching booked in for afterwards.
Do some different styles of training.
Have a break from the competition stuff you've been doing endlessly forever.
Have a break.
Do the things you've wanted to for ages but haven't been able to.
Go on holiday.
Reward yourself for all the hard work you've done and have some fun for god's sake.
Normally when someone has done a competition and forces themselves to keep going with the competition lifts normally ends up burnt out.
A coach will normally help you plan your way around this kind of thing.
Relationship Break-Ups or Relationship Difficulty
This is a tough one to address due to many different factors.
You know i'm going to say having a coach helps with this because it does. Sometimes they can be the only people you would feel comfortable talking to about these kinds of things.
When relationships are falling apart it's often training that falls away as the person is swept away by emotional anguish.
With my clients this is normally when we'll try and introduce a new set of goals like a Powerlifting competition or a Strongwoman competition where we can switch the focus towards something more positive that can help the person have something else to think about as time does it's healing work.
It's normally toxic relationships that are slowly dying or should have died a long time a go that have the most profound effects on training and motivation because of the crippling emotional tole these cause.
While training can help you escape the emotion for a while nothing will help you more than getting out of that situation while you can.
Once you do and start to pick up the pieces of your life again training will become the amazing thing you fell in love with originally.
Time to get strong again!
A New Relationship
Come back to the gym when you've finished fucking each other's brains out.
You probably shouldn't train through pain. Injury is the sign that you training needs to adapt. Find a professional to help you adapt it and build from there.
Injury makes you feel vulnerable and hurt. Often people report feeling like a cripple all of a sudden.
It's to be expected and is very difficult to deal with.
Normally with injury it's about sensibly training around the issue any way you can. Finding ways to train around pain and injury can result in you finding ways of training that you really enjoy especially with the latest science showing that most rehab doesn't need to be incredibly easy and not challenging.
Find some qualified to help you around injury and don't feel as if you just need to rest because that isn't necessarily the case.
Many times injury is the best thing that can happen to someone's training because they learn where their weaknesses are and go about never having to experience the same thing again.
If it does keep happening maybe it's time to try something new, assessing whether you are looking after yourself or not and moving forward in the best way you can.
Once again, most injuries can be worked around!
When you have a combination of factors?
These issues never happen in isolation.
In all these situations remember to look after yourself and take some me time whether that is in the gym or at home or in a theme park.
Hopefully you'll have people around you who you can talk to about an issue.
Make lists of things to do. Eat as best you can. Stay hydrated. Deal with the issues in your life. Know when to take the foot of the accelerator. And as I've said 345678 times in this post having a coach normally goes a hell of a long way to getting you through the above issues with your training habit intact and the pressure taken off you just a little bit.
Sometimes it may be none of the issues above in relation to your training. Sometimes you just need a change of direction and that is okay. A change is often as exciting as it is scary.
You've got this my friend!
By Chris Kershaw
Chris is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Writer and man of small stature and reader of The Discworld Series with a decade in the industry. He trains everyone from beginners to high level athletes. His favourite clients are people getting into the gym for the first time because they can make the biggest changes in their life.
You can reach me through the email address Chris@kershawstrength.com
My Instagram is Chris_Kershaw_Strength.
Thank you for reading!