Exercise Motivation: 101 Reasons People Fail

Written By: Todd Kuslikis
September 30, 2011

One of the most difficult things about exercise is staying motivated. Here is a list of 101  reasons people fail at exercise motivation. When you feel like you can’t get off the couch and you just don’t want to do that exercise session, make sure you’re not doing any of these. If you are, get rid of them and you’ll be sure to find your motivation to exercise. Remember that the  key to success in staying motivated to exercise is to find something you enjoy doing and then work on getting good at it. This will bring you confidence and also keep you fit. Exercise motivation is hard, but there are many tips to incorporate to keep your motivation levels high.

Exercise Motivation: Don’t Do Any Of These

1. Watching TV While Working Out

Watching TV distracts you from getting a good workout. I went through a stretch where I turned the TV on to motivate me to workout. I thought, “Working out is easy because I can watch TV while I do it.” One of the biggest problems with it is if there is an interesting show on you definitely don’t focus on exercising. After awhile, your exercise sessions will get shorter and shorter and you’ll lose our motivation to workout.

2. Exercising Alone

Some people are loners, I understand that. I am naturally a lone wolf and do like to exercise alone. Most people have a naturally difficult time with exercise. When you have a workout partner, he can motivate you when you don’t feel like doing it. Get one. They are worth their weight in gold.

3. Getting Injured

Injury is a total killer to motivation especially when you have been staying committed. Keep your body flexible through stretching and stay safe during your exercise sessions. Don’t try anything too crazy.

4. Starting Off Too Fast

I have a tendency to be so excited to start and then I “gas out” down the road. Don’t do this. Start off slow and realize that it’s a process.

5. Expecting to Change Overnight

This is a huge one. We live in a “My way, right away” world. Change WILL happen. Though it won’t happen overnight. Be consistent.

6. Not Having a Plan

Creating your exercise routine the day of is not a good idea. You get the best workouts when you have your plan laid out ahead of time. Use a Routine from the site and follow it to the end.

7. Surrounding Yourself with Nay-sayers

People can cut you down so fast when you tell them your goals. Stay focused and don’t let their lack of accomplishment distract you from yours’.

8. Eating Too Much

It is easy to counter the effects of good exercise by eating too much. There is nothing more disappointing than when you are working really hard for months on end and you aren’t seeing results. Eat the necessary amount for your body and lifestyle.

9. Eating Too Little

When you are doing extreme exercises, it is important to make sure you are getting enough Calories. Again, as the tip above, eat the necessary amount for your body and lifestyle.

Knee Health Score 2

10. Not Incorporating Intensity in Workouts

This goes along with watching TV while working out. Intensity is key to getting a good workout. During some of my sessions you’ll hear me scream because they hurt so bad. I just wonder what the neighbors are thinking! If you don’t have intensity in your workouts, you can’t consider it working out.

11. Exercising Too Much

It is possible to exercise too much. Your body needs time to recuperate and rebuild. If you are exercising too much you won’t be getting the results that you want and will lose your motivation to exercise.

12. Just Exercising the Parts of Your Body That Show

Have you seen the guy that has a huge upper body but little chicken legs? This is disgusting and not healthy. Don’t be that guy. Don’t work your biceps and chest because those are the ones that you see. The rest of us see your whole body even though you can’t. Do us a favor.

13. Getting Distracted

If you are at the gym, don’t get distracted by “eye candy.” This is not healthy and is a detriment to your goals. Stay focused. If you go to the gym to look at other people then you really have no exercise motivation but you do need need a therapist.

14. Being a Social Butterfly

Don’t be the guy that can’t shut up while at the gym. It is annoying to others and doesn’t help you reach your goals. Do this at your country club or pool hall, not at the gym.

15. Not Caring About How You Look

People, especially men, are visually focused. When you reach the point that you don’t care how you look you will lose quite a bit of motivation to exercise. Working out changes your body build and you should care how you look. Use this to increase your motivation levels.

16. Having an Inconvenient Exercise Location

There is no bigger stumbling block than when you have to drive a long distance just to workout. Your mind starts playing tricks on you and tells yourself, “You just don’t have time.” Find a place nearby like a local track, gym or even your own house. You don’t need access to the location with all the latest gadgets. You need a location that works for you.

17. Using Food to Motivate You

This is a killer. Some people tell themselves that if they get through this exercise session they can have that piece of pie or bowl of ice cream. You’ll stunt your benefits and eventually lose your motivation.

18. Lacking Variety in Your Workouts

Exercise needs to be exciting and have variety. Doing the same thing is not only boring but doesn’t help your muscles grow most effectively. You will reach plateau because your body is so used to the workout. Change it up and add variety to stay motivated.

19. Not Choosing An Exercise You Enjoy

Exercise should not be like going to the dentist. It should be something you enjoy and look forward to. Try different types of exercise and find something you like doing. After many years I found body weight exercises to be my tried-and-true exercise method. If you like jogging or swimming or doing Hindu Pushups on the Sears Tower, do it!

20. Not Keeping Track of Your Workouts

If you’re not keeping track of your workouts you don’t really know the progress you are making. Keep a detailed log of your workouts so you can see how you are progressing over a period of time. SITE

21. Not Visiting the Doctor as a Routine Check-up

An ounce of precaution is worth a pound in cure. Your body changes frequently and doctors are trained to assess the functioning of your body. Visit your MD regularly and you keep your motivation levels high by having a sound mind.

22. Not Learning New Forms of Exercise

Don’t be afraid to try new forms of exercise. Old exercise sessions and routines can get stale. Browse the internet and www.Extreme-Exercises.com and find new routines.

23. Not Making Exercise a Habit

Once you get past the hump of exercise being a habit, it is so much easier to keep your motivation levels high. They say it takes 30 days to form a habit. Set a goal for yourself to workout for one month. Once exercise becomes a habit, you’ll be on your way to making it a lifestyle.

24. Negative Self Talk

Most people struggle daily with self-defeating thoughts. This is huge killer for exercise. Go on a negative self talk fast. Notice the thoughts that pass through your mind and zap them as quickly as they come up. Great article on Negative Self Talk.

25. Working Out Because Your Spouse Has Criticized You

It is common for one spouse or the other to be more physically fit. However, criticizing your spouse as a form of motivation actually has the opposite effect. Accentuate the positive features in your spouse and lift them up. They will then be motivated to receive more complements and work out more consistently.

26. Critiquing Your Body Too Much

Realize that getting a beach body physique will take time. Critiquing your body too much can be self-defeating.

27. Using a Mirror Too Early in Your Exercise Life

Mirrors don’t lie. They tell it how it is. By using a mirror too early you can sometimes decrease your motivation because you cut yourself down. So don’t spend too much time looking at yourself in the mirror, especially in the early days.

28. Not Managing Your Stress

Stress has a destructive effect on your body. This leads to break down and fatigue. If you are tired you are probably not motivated to exercise. Manage your stress properly and you’ll have greater energy and motivation to exercise. Reduce Stress, click here.

29. Having a NetFlix Account

I’m not joking with this one. Entertainment technology, like Netflix, can rob us of our time. It’s so easy to sit in front of the computer or television and let 2-3 hours slip by. Limit your entertainment and spend a bit more time off the couch.

30. Not Managing Your Time Properly

Time management is very important to staying consistent with one’s workouts. Hours…days…and months slip by sometimes without you even noticing. Manage your time wisely and make sure to keep exercise in your daily plan. Tools for Time Management.

31. Wearing Baggy Clothes

Seriously, when you wear baggy clothes it gives you the opportunity to not focus on your body shape. Wearing tight clothing helps bring to your awareness how your body looks and feels. So next time you are in the market for new clothing, get a size too small and be aware of how the clothes feel on your body.

32. Criticizing Others

Criticizing others is a reflection of your own negative self talk. What goes around comes around. If you are cutting down others you probably are also cutting yourself down in your mind. Instead, lift others up and you’ll be surprised at the energy you feel back.

33. Not Having SMART Goals

Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Make sure that your goals for your exercise routines follow all of the above guidelines and are SMART. Click here to find out how to create a SMART goal. More on SMART Goals.

34. Not Having an Inspiration

I STRONGLY recommend having someone that you admire as your motivation. Two of my greatest inspirations are Jack Lalanne and Paul Bragg. Both of these individuals were icons in the fitness & health movement. Find your inspirations and emulate them.

35. Not Being able to “Suck It Up” When You Need To

This is a “tough love” approach. Sometimes you need to pull yourself up by the boot straps and use the Nike slogan of “Just Do It.”

36. Not Positively Affirming Yourself

Positive affirmations have been used for centuries. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use them to motivate yourself. Remember though that they should be in the present tense. Don’t say, “I will be fit and strong,” say something like, “I AM enjoying my exercise sessions and I AM amazingly fit and strong.”

37. Revisit Your Past

Learning from past attempts at staying motivated can help give you clarity and the ability to stay motivated in the present. Revisit your past, and insights will help pave the way to your success.

38. Not Being Patient

This road takes a lot of time. Expecting huge gains in a short amount of time is foolish. Patience is a virtue. Let your results show their fruits in time.

39. Not Having Excitement About Your Workouts

Build up some natural excitement about your workouts. Don’t think of them as dreadful things you must get done. Look forward to them and this will naturally help increase your motivation.

40. Not Having a Motivating Reward

The carrot on the stick not only works for horses. Find out what your carrot is. Maybe it’s new clothes. Maybe it’s a new car. Whatever it is tie your success to the reward. Check out this site as a great $$$ reward! www.HealthyWage.com

41. Using Excuses

Don’t ever use excuses as a reason for not getting your workout done. Take responsibility for your own actions and as my brother used to say, “Make plays, not excuses.”

42. Not Believing In Yourself

Realize that what one man can do, another can do also. There is nothing special about another person’s accomplishments other than that they stuck through the hard times and saw their goal to the end. Believe in yourself that you can do it.

43. Exercise Boredom

Boredom is a dreadful killer in exercise. You need to keep the workouts exciting. Don’t be a victim to boredom.

44. Not Having Negative Consequences for When You Don’t Workout

Positive reinforcements work but so do negative consequences. Tie something you don’t want to do to not working out. Like every time you miss a workout you will mow the neighbor’s lawn, or shovel their driveway. This will keep you motivated to stick through it.

45. Not Incorporating Cardio

This is especially important if you are overweight. Cardio helps to burn Calories which eliminates body fat. Incorporate cardio to help transform your body into the one you want to have.

46. Trying To Stay Comfortable While Working Out

We have to get it through our heads that working out is not the same thing as laying on the couch. Being uncomfortable is simply part of the game. Realize that when we expect to be comfortable while working out, we will be highly disappointed when we actually have to do it.

47. Being a Wuss

No pain, no gain is a great adage to follow for this tip. Exercise may hurt, especially when lactic acid is building up. So don’t be a wuss and lose your exercise motivation.

48. Not Having a Contract With Yourself

Create a contract with yourself for extra motivation. Write out your exercise plan in word form and your reward structure. Sign it and place it on a wall or on your mirror. Look at it daily to remind yourself of the commitment that you have made.

49. Not Having a Journal

Writing down your thoughts helps to give you insight into what is working and what is not. If you don’t have a journal you are missing out on key revelations that will improve your workouts and increase your motivation.

50. Not Having a Convenience Exercise Time

Finding a time that works for you is so important for maintaining an exercise regimen. Whether you are a morning dove, like I am (I regularly get up at 5am) or a night owl, find a time that works.

51. Working Out When the Kids are Around

There is no way you can focus on your exercise session when your kids are screaming and fighting. Find a baby sitter, kick them outside, have your spouse watch them…do something to get them out of your hair!

52. Thinking that Exercise is an “All or Nothing” Type Deal

Some people think that if they can’t workout for 3 hours a day every day of the week, they might as well not do anything. This is a bad thought process. Even a little bit of exercise helps. So if you can’t do everything, at least do something.

53. Not Taking Before and After Pictures

I highly recommend all my clients to take before/after pictures of themselves. The visual change over time is highly motivating and encourages them to keep on going.

54. Not Understanding the Basics of Nutrition Labels

Again, the importance of nutrition is here. Labels on food give you all the information you need to make a healthy decision. Learn how to do this. Visit this site to learn how

55. Not Being Part of a Class or Club

Birds flock together for a reason. Think about a flock of birds flying in a “V” formation. The birds in front take on greater resistance. This is the same thing with group classes. Rely on your trainer or instructor to carry the motivation for you. That’s what they are there for.

56. Keeping Your Exercise Plans to Yourself

If you keep your plans to yourself, it gives you every excuse to quit. When other people know about them, it raises the stakes. Tell your friends and family what you are doing. As long as they are not nay-sayers, it will help you stay motivated.

57. Weighing Yourself Too Often

Your weight is variable especially when beginning a program. It may go up because you are building muscle mass. It may go down because you are burning a lot of Calories. Don’t rely too heavily on your weight as a measure for your success.

58. Not Measuring Yourself

Although weight is a poor measure of health, measurements can be a great way. Measure your waist, chest, arms and thighs and keep track of your measurements over time. You’ll be surprised to see how quickly you are changing. How to measure yourself.

59. Not Promising Yourself Something Big

Little rewards will get you through the little humps but to get over big hurdles it sometimes take a big reward. So use it. Tell yourself you will take a vacation if you exercise regularly for 6 months. And then do it. Continue to use this throughout your exercise life cycle.

60. Not Knowing Your “Why”

Tony Robbins states that if you have a strong enough “why” you can find the “how.” Know why you are exercising. Is it for yourself? Or hubby? What’s the reason? Then write it down and reflect on it often.

61. Not Working Out Hard Enough

Exercise intensity is very important. You need to workout hard in order to get results. So as Tony Horton of P90X says, “Bring It!”

62. Taking Too Much Time Off

Taking too much time off from your exercise routine can be detrimental to your motivation levels. You may feel like you are back at square one, although you are most likely not, don’t fall into this trap. Make exercise a regular habit.

63. Not Checking Off That You Completed Your Routine

This is so simple yet so underutilized. On the days that you workout, make a huge “X” on your calender signifying that you completed your workout, it will help motivate you long term by seeing all the “X’s” over the long haul.

64. Not Having Your Routine In a Place Where You Can See It Often

I place my routine on my refrigerator. I see it often and am aware of when I need to do it. Do the same thing and you’ll be sure to keep your motivation level high.

65. Having the Wrong Fitness Clothing

You may laugh at this one but it is key. You need clothing that is comfortable and contributes to the success of your workout, not hinders it. Make sure your tennis shoes fit well so you don’t get injured and find something that makes you feel good about yourself.

66. Not Being Gentle With Yourself

If you miss a workout or take too much time off, be gentle with yourself. Life is not perfect and neither is your exercise commitment. Tell yourself that it’s OK. Get back into the swing of things and don’t sweat the small stuff.

67. Not Making Exercise a Habit

This should be the goal of all of these. Once exercise is a habit, you are home free!

68. Not Having a “Bread & Butter” Exercise

Having a fall back exercise that you love to do and know you’re good at is a great way to stay motivated to do your exercise routine. When you don’t feel like working out, do the thing you love and tell yourself congrats!

69. Not Being Proud Of Yourself

You should be proud that you have even chosen to begin the road of exercise success. So many people don’t even make it a priority. Be proud of yourself. You are of the few.

70. Focusing Too Much On the Future

Sometimes the best way to stay motivated is to think “I just need to get through this next session.” Thinking about all the years of pain and drudgery of exercising will put you on the fast track to failing.

71. Trying Too Many Different Types of Exercise

If every time you hear of a new fitness routine, you try it, you’re never going to get into a rhythm. Stick to exercises that you are comfortable with and love. You don’t need to go out and try everything.

72. Doing Fad Exercises

In the exercise realm there is always a flavor of the month. As the Bible says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Just because something says “New and Improved” doesn’t mean it’s better. Commitment is the key to success, not Get Fit Quick schemes.

73. Engaging In Fad Diets

As with Fad Exercises, Fad Diets are even more prevalent. There is no replacement to sound nutrition. Eat whole foods. I try to follow a macrobiotic diet. But that’s what works for me. Experiment yourself and use what works for you.

74. Remind Yourself

Reminding yourself of why you are exercising, the benefits, how good you will feel and look is a great way to stay motivated. Use the power of “reminding” to push past those motivation blockages.

75. Not Knowing the “Pain & Pleasure Principle”

As humans we are motivated by Pain and Pleasure…avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. Tie as much pleasure to your workouts as possible and you’ll be sure to increase your motivation.

76. Not Making a Bet With Yourself

Make a bet with yourself. Bet that you will be able to accomplish your goal in a certain amount of time. Humans like challenges. Use this to your advantage.

77. Not Incorporating Competition

There is a reason sporting events are so popular. Seeing two teams compete for the “W” is exciting. Incorporate competition between you and your workout buddy to raise the stakes on each set and rep that you do.

78. Not Entering Contests

There are tons of contests on the web. A great site that incorporates both contests and rewards is www.healthywage.com. Check it out!

79. Not Being Involved In Community Events

No man is an island. And exercise is no different. Check out local events and get involved. This will improve your motivation.

80. Not Posting Your Picture in Key Places in Your House

Reminding yourself of how you look is sometimes a great motivator. They say ignorance is bliss. When we are very aware of how we look (and how we want to look) this can be a great motivator to take action.

81. Not Posting Your Picture on the Internet

One of my good friends, Biggest Loser Season 2 Pete Thomas, had a great idea as a way to stay motivated. He said, post your “before” picture on line. With the potential of thousands of eyeballs seeing it, you’ll definitely be motivating yourself to get in gear.

82. Not Spending Time with Fitness Minded People

It is said that you are a reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with. So if you want that perfect physique, hang around people that have one. Let them share their tips with you and guide you in how they got there.

83. Not Pacing Yourself

Consistency in exercise is not a sprint but a marathon. It takes time to build up the practice. Pace yourself and over time you’ll be able to keep your motivation levels high.

84. Not Asking Others to Affirm You

Both men and women need to be affirmed. An encouraging word can be worth it’s weight in gold (just like a good workout buddy). Freely ask others to encourage and affirm you on your path. The words will stoke your fire to success.

85. Not Utilizing the Color Red

Many top physiologists agree that the color red increases blood movement and energy levels. So use this to your benefit. Paint your exercise room red if you have to.

86. Not Buying Clothes You Want to Fit Into

Women and men can be motivated by seeing an outfit they want to fit into. So buy the outfit early and put it in full view as a way to motivate yourself.

87. Not Taking Note of How You’re Feeling that Day

You need to be self aware of how you feel each day. Not that we need to be driven by our emotions but you should take stock of how your feeling. If you are really exhausted, it is sometimes better to take the day off (even on exercise days) and fight the battle tomorrow.

88. Not Choosing One or Two Things to Change at a Time

The smallest and most simple changes over time can make a world of difference. Choose just one or (at max) two things to change in your exercise regimen. Work on those first and then move on to the next items after this becomes a habit. For example, say you want to increase your flexibility. Don’t try to add this if you are also trying to be a marathon runner, an olympic javelin thrower and mixed martial artist. A jack of all trades is a master of none.

89. Exercising at the Same Place Over and Over

This especially applies to outdoor activities. God’s green earth is abundant so get outside and enjoy new paths while running or do your body weight exercises at a park or on the beach.

90. Not Re-evaluating Your Goals

Revisiting goals will help create greater clarity as to what you want to accomplish. Re-evaluate your goals often.

91. Not Having a Favorite “Pump-Up” Song

I love the theme song to Rocky, what guy doesn’t? Choose a theme song and play it before every workout. It’ll help get the juices flowing.

92. Having Bad Health Habits

Regular smoking, drinking, drugs and any other bad health habit will destroy any positive effects from exercise. Get rid of them. But again, these should be done slowly and over time. You’ll begin to feel much healthier which will motivate you even more.

93. Not Getting the Taste of Success

One of the biggest de-motivators is not getting the taste of success early on. That is why it is really important to give it your all so that you can taste success early and your motivation will piggy-back off of this.

94. Not Giving Yourself Time-Off

Your body is not a machine. It needs time off. Sometimes you just need to relax and recharge your battery. My mom sometimes gave us R & R (Rest and Relaxation) days off from school. As I look back these were so helpful for boosting our energy levels.

95. Not Being Part of an Online Community

I come back to the support because this is so important. There are so many online communities to be involved in. One really active one is www.SparkPeople.com. Check it out.

96. Not Ever Experiencing the Endorphin Rush

Also known as the Runner’s High, this is a flood of endorphins in your body that elevates your mood and excitement. This occurs in the midst of intense energy and makes you feel incredible. Stay consistent with your sessions until you feel this. Then you’ll know how this can be an incredible motivator.

97. Not Using Motivation Quotes

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” is a great quote that relates to the tip. Quotes are some of the deepest thoughts of incredible minds. Use these thoughts to boost your own level of thinking and you’ll be highly motivated for sure! Create your library of quotes and have them in a place that you can see them often.

98. Not Planning an Event Where You Can Show Off Your Bod

I frequently plan beach days with friends. I do these for community building but they also work as great events to motivate you to stay strong in your exercise sessions.

99. Not Showing Up

They say that 90% of success in life is showing up. So when you don’t feel like working out, just do it any way. Show up. Even if you don’t have the intensity or the plan or anything else. Just show up and the rest will eventually follow.

100. Spending Too Much Money on Fitness

Body weight exercises are one of (I think the) best form of exercise. You don’t need all these machines and gadgets to get fit. Getting a beach ready body doesn’t require any money. It does require consistency however.

101. Not Being Part of the www.Extreme-Exercises.com Community!

www.Extreme-Exercises.com is one of the best sources for tips and fitness routines to help you learn how to utilize body weight exercises effectively. Visit it often, get active by posting comments on exercises you like and you’ll get the support you need to stay motivated.

Show/Hide Comments (2 comments)
  1. erustus

    Good article. Its quite interesting. Thank you for this interesting bit of information.

    • Todd Kuslikis

      You’re welcome!

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