How to stay motivated to workout at home is a question that’s been asked many times. The key to accomplishment in the gym, and life, can be boiled down to repetition. Go to the gym. Go again. And again. And eventually you will accomplish your goals so long as they are reasonable.
Thus, the determining factor in most cases of wether or not you achieve what you set out for is your ability to be consistent over time. Training intensely for a few weeks will have very little impact on your physique and strength compared to training for 2 years. And training for 2 years will yield less improvement to your physique and level of results compared to training for a decade.
So it seems simple. Just train. What can be so hard about that?
The hard thing for many people is getting through the initial phases of working out, or in this case, working out at home. Once a behavior becomes habitual and is done enough, it will take willpower to stop doing it.
The 5 Stages of Achievement
The sequence of events that lead to achievement in any interest or field generally looks like:
- Willpower (with bouts of motivation)
Inspiration is when the idea first occurs to you that a certain goal is both possible and appealing. You have decided that something is worth doing and that you are going to be proactive is doing what is needed. After this initial phase is motivation. Motivation is the beginning of action and comes with the natural high of desire for a new goal. During this phase, progress is made fast and there is no shortage of energy to be expended on what’s needed for continuous advancement.
Willpower follows the phase of motivation but sometimes occurs alongside it as well. This is the period when there is determination required to get over the first walls of a new challenge but the rewards of this behavior haven’t been felt yet.
The phase after this, habit, takes place once the barrier to entry has been scaled. After enough time the new activity will become engrained in your lifestyle and will be as ordinary to do as it is to eat, walk, and brush your teeth; this is when working towards the goal is natural and normal.
Finally, the last phase, identity, is the stage following all of these when the goal is either reached or you have become familiar enough with this behavior that it is part of you as a person, at this point it is uncomfortable to stop doing whatever it is simply because it is intertwined with who you are.
This paradigm is typical for any new behavior that is being implemented by yourself for a purpose.
If you’re struggling with motivation that likely means that you’re past the first two phases of a new behavior and are onto the third phase which is fueled by willpower. Thus, the solution to not having motivation to workout at home is often not solved by motivation but rather an awareness of where you are in your progress towards your goals and a comprehension of why the behavior is still beneficial to participate in, assuming the rewards to working out have not substantially changed.
A lack of motivation can additionally be solved by changing your routine, shifting the number of days you workout each week, cutting out bad habits, sleeping more, working out earlier in the day, and finding some sort of community that shares the same interest as you do, however these things are all just going to generally make you feel better, not give you a magical dose of a cure-all motivating potion.
Differences in Workouts at Home vs. Workouts at the Gym
To gain an understanding of why home workouts require higher amounts of willpower, it is worthwhile to evaluate the differences between lifting at home vs at a gym.
Meeting up with your training partner, taking preworkout, wearing an outfit for the gym, socializing, having access to hundreds of different machines… These are some of the advantages that attending a gym offers. There are benefits to training at home as well, but for many people, motivation is not one of them.
The negative points to working out at home that impact willpower are that it limits the amount of exercises you can do, forces you to rely on yourself for company and staying accountable, removes the social aspect of staying in shape, and easily becomes mundane unless the routine is proactively edited and changed.
To lessen the load of home workouts on the willpower you have to use, these problems should be dealt with. In regards to the limited amount of exercises available, this is mostly unavoidable. However, creativity and research can lead you to information such as chest exercises that can be done at home and other ways to hit muscles. All muscles of the body can be trained without equipment.
To deal with the lack of company and necessary self-reliance for staying accountable, it is crucial to find a community of other individuals who also lift weights. The internet facilitates this and allows you to find such groups. Studies, like this one, show that sharing goals you have with other people largely increases the odds of achieving them if these are people whose opinions you respect. So instead of talking about what you hope to squat in a month at a gym, tell people in forums or find others by following fitness websites, like this one, as a trade-off to the community aspect you had before.
Finally, to depend less on willpower it is beneficial to change your routine. By keeping your lifting regimen static, the chances of you becoming bored and developing apathy to training are much higher. This study, published in 2019, found that exercise variance increased both motivation to train as well as overall results from training, making shifts in routines optimal for depending less on willpower.
It is natural for motivation to decrease once an activity has been done for a while. This is normal and while there are ways to mitigate how much you need to depend on willpower, accepting that you won’t always be at peak enthusiasm is helpful for being able to continue making progress.
To depend less on motivation for working out at home, find different exercises to do that don’t need equipment, find a community of other people with your same interest, and change your routine to keep it enjoyable and varied as opposed to always doing the same lifts.