I’ve been there.
So have you.
It’s 5:30, and you just finished another 8+ hour workday. It’s Monday, you had a pretty wild weekend, so you’re sleep deprived and lacking you’re usually energy. You’re mentally shot. You woke up planning to go to the gym, but now you aren’t so sure…
“I’ll just go tomorrow instead” you say. “Besides, it’s international chest day, and the gym is over-packed with bros hogging all the equipment I need.”
You decide to skip the gym and stay home. You fire up XBox and play a game of Madden. One game turns into two, two into three. After several others in front of the TV, you pass out for the night.
Another night, come and gone, wasted away.
Become One with Routine
Since graduating college, I have gone to the gym after work. I feel energized and focused at night. My sweet spot is the 6-8pm range, and my body is now 100% locked into night workouts.
Finding time to workout during the week is challenging enough.
Finding the physical energy to go to the gym after a long work day? That is a separate struggle entirely.
Life usually finds a way to get between us and our goals, but only if you are weak-minded.
If you are not consistent with your workouts, here is what won’t happen.
- You won’t make significant strength gains
- You won’t get more muscular
- You won’t loss meaningful fat
To see meaningful progress, you must develop a rigid workout plan and stick to it. Free yourself of inconsistencies and train your mind to see the gym as your second home. Working out needs to become non-negotiable. We live one life, a finite existence. Health and wellness should be your #1 priority. A healthy body cannot happen without a motivated mindset. The mental MUST come before the physical if you are to see significant results from your workouts. The first mental hurdle is finding consistency.
Rule #1: Learn to Plan Ahead
One of the ways to combat flaky gym attendance is to plan out your week ahead of time. Every Sunday night, open up your calendar and see what you have going on during the upcoming week. On your free nights, write “Gym” and what split you will be doing (i.e. Chest, Legs, Shoulders, etc). Also, be sure to write down the cardio routine you will be doing, if applicable.
By planning ahead, you are more likely to follow through with it. You will also be able to decline any after-work invitations as you know ahead of time when you scheduled your workouts.
Aim for 3 weeknight and one of the two weekend days in the gym. This should be your floor. If you can go 5x a week, all the better.
Rule #2: You Must Stay Hydrated
No matter what you do, it is vital that you stay hydrated throughout the day. If you work in an office, this should be pretty easy. I bought the below water bottle and I will usually fill it up 3-4 times a day. It holds 24 ounces, so that alone is 72-86 ounces of water before I go workout. On top of that, I usually have a medium black coffee and a protein shake as well. Once 6pm hits, I have hydrated for almost 12 hours. My body is fresh and ready to go.
Rule #3: Pre-Workout Nutrition
You must understand the importance of eating both proteins and carbs before your workout. Mike Matthews of Muscle For Life is the authority on workout advice and research, and he dedicates an entire article to pre-workout nutrition.
Based on scientific research, Mike concludes:
- Eat 20-40 grams of protein 30 minutes before you workout
- Whey Protein is your best bet here, as it is quick, convenient, and effective. I stick to Optimum Nutrition for the most part, but I am not opposed to buying other, high quality powders that I can snatch on a great deal.
- Eat 25-50 grams of carbohydrates 30 minutes before you workout
- Mike suggests some quick and easy carb choices – rice milk, bananas, oats, potatoes, rice, raisins, etc. Stay away from carb supplements!
Rule #4: Pre-Workout Breathing Exercises
Learning to relax through the mastery of your breathing is one of the most beneficial actions you can do. The techniques are far and wide, but let’s focus on one that I have used with regular success.
The Wim Hof Method
Wim Hof is a legend pure and simple. If you are unfamiliar with him, read up here.
Hof has learned to control his core temperature using his mind. He also has the proven ability to control his own immune system, thus keeping himself free of disease and sickness. Hof’s mastery of both cold therapy and breathing techniques has led to these rare feats, and he has even successfully taught his methods to others who were able to replica his success. Hof has spent his more recent years proving his feats through science and his life’s passion is to eradicate depression through the use of his mind techniques.
I came across this piece on Higher Existence where the author experimented with Hof’s cold therapy and breathing techniques. Several months back, I added these techniques to my daily routine, and found instant satisfaction. I relaxed, focused, and became “in tune” with my body.
Here are the steps:
- Get comfortable. Arrange your body in a relaxed state.
- Warm Up. Inhale deep and hold briefly. Exhale completely. Do this 15 times.
- 30 Power Breaths. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Keep the bursts short and powerful. Do this 30 times. Due to high levels of oxygen within your lungs, you may experience slight light headedness.
- Body Scan. Do this during the 30 power breaths. This is a mental exercise where you are attempting to “will” energy to the various parts of your body. Concentrate and keep your eyes closed. Let go of all negativity. This is the most difficult part of the routine, as you need to completely lose yourself in the technique.
- The Hold. After the 30 power breaths, breathe in deep and release. At this point, you want to hold your breath. Release when you can no longer hold it.
- Recovery Breath. Immediately following step #5, you want to breathe in deep and hold it for 10-15 seconds.
The steps above are considered one round. Begin with 1-2 rounds. It is recommended you work yourself up to 15 minutes, and/ro 6 total rounds. I do 3 rounds (roughly 10 minutes) 30 minutes prior before gym.
Rule #5: Pre-Workout Supplement
I have tried every pre-workout supplement in existence. From the old Jack3d formula, to C4, Assault, and on and on. All gave me varied results, but I was spending a ton of money for a month’s supply (or less). Most of these products are glorified caffeine powders, with BCAA’s mixed in, which are completely unnecessary as a supplement.
Immediately following my breathing exercises, I take the one supplement proven to get me energized and ready to move heavy weights.
I can across these pills on Amazon about a year ago. The cost? Just over $7 for 100 pills, each with 200mg of caffeine. 7 cents a serving – saving me $20-30 each month with the same pre-workout effect as a powder.
I keep my caffeine tolerance in check by only having 100mg in a medium ice coffee before noon. For the most part, you don’t want to exceed 350-400mg in a day.
I take a caffeine pill after my breathing exercises, 20-30 minutes before I touch my first weight in the gym. I am always amped up and ready to go.
Note: Some of you may have a higher or lower tolerance to caffiene and stimulants. I have never had any issues, particularly with sleeping, even though I tend to work out later at night. At 200mg, the dose of caffeine should be fine for the majority of people, but test it out to make sure.
Rule #6: Pre-Workout Motivational Videos
My gym is 10 minutes walking from my apartment. That gives me 20 minutes to further motivate myself after my breathing exercises and caffeine pill. I fill this time with YouTube videos.
I usually check my YouTube subscribed list and see if anyone has put out new videos in the past 24-48 hours. I like to watch a workout video or two that focus on what I am looking to do in the gym that day, such as arms, chest, legs, etc.When I am finished, I am beyond jacked up and ready to crush weights.
Here are some of my favorite channels:
Cycle through some of these videos before you walk out the door for the gym. You won’t be disappointed.
Becoming a Consistent Beast
- Plan Ahead. Every Sunday night, mark your calendars with the days you will be going to the gym. Aim for 3x during the week, and at least one of the two weekend days.
- Stay Hydrated. Most people are chronically dehydrated. If you are working out at night especially, you need to ensure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Pre-Workout Nutrition. You should be eating 20-40 grams of protein and 25-50 grams of carbs 30 minutes before your workout.
- Pre-Workout Supplement. More than likely, a caffeine pill is all that you will need. Skip the pricey supplements, you won’t be disappointed.
- Pre-Workout Breathing Exercises. Following the steps above, try to aim for 2-3 rounds of breathing exercises 30 minutes before your workout.
- Pre-workout Motivational Videos. Find your favorite fitness personalities on YouTube and watch some of their content before heading out to the gym. I try to focus on the split I plan on training during my workout.
Never again will you ask, “How do I get motivated for the gym?!?” This routine will help you instill a consistent pre-workout routine that keeps you on point with your gym schedule. You will have laser-like focus and get the most out of your workouts. Once you apply this routine for several weeks, I guarantee the gym will become a true mainstay in your weekly routine. Let’s make workout excuses extinct.
Remember, this guide can apply to workouts at any time of day, not just at night.