Author: Andrew Tracey
Publish Date: 3/5/19
The road to health is paved with good intentions. You can invest in the best fitness equipment money can buy, build the Mecca of home gyms that even Arnie would envy. But sometimes – perhaps more often than we’d care to admit – our enthusiasm to exercise hits rock bottom and it can feel like nothing will get us in the mood to work out.
But what if you could create a bulletproof strategy so you never need to dig too deep to find that motivation? Sounds like a plan? That’s exactly what this is. We asked expert home workout aficionado Andrew Tracey how to create an endless well of training motivation. Read on for his tips – and his go-to bang-for-your-buck workout – that you can put into practice today. Like, right now.
Your home is your comfort zone, which means it can take extra mental might to switch into workout mode when stepping through the front door. That’s why the first move on the road to limitless home workout motivation is to create a space where you embrace discomfort.
“You disengage at home,” explains Tracey, founder of You Are Not Your Gym Membership. “It took a long time before I was able to get a decent workout at home. I had to change how I viewed the space I work out. You can do this by creating environmental cues. Create a designated space at home, in your garden or garage where you go to train. Build a space where mentally you can be completely engaged, without distractions. I’m lucky that I have a garage.
It’s dedicated to working out – I don’t allow myself to do anything else there.”
No garage? No excuse. Tracey insists you can create the same effect with an exercise mat rolled out in the middle of your living room. “Once that mat is rolled out the area transforms into your dedicated home gym where it’s time to go to work.”
Next, you need to establish a pre-workout routine that primes your mind for exercise. “Make your pre-workout ritual the decision to train at the same time every day,” says Tracey, adding that 15 minutes before you start your session, make a conscious decision to eat or drink the same thing, like a banana for energy or a shot of coffee for focus.
“Be consistent with your ritual. Roll out the mat, place your weights in the same place every time. This might sound banal but you’re mentally getting into gear and setting the stage for your workout. There’s no chaos, nothing is haphazard. I still do it now. When I work out at lunch I still change out of my work boots and into my trainers. I don’t necessarily need to do that but it’s part of my ritual to engage fully with the workout.
" I had to change how I viewed the space I work out. You can do this by creating environmental cues."
Now you need a plan. But where do you start? “It can be overwhelming to think, ‘I have to work out tonight’,” says Tracey. “It’s like thinking, ‘I need to get in shape’. You have an end goal but no directions to get there. The solution is to break your plan down into manageable chunks.
“If I show you a flight of stairs I don’t expect you to jump to the top,” Tracey adds. “You take it step by step.” You should take the same approach with your workout so you know what comes next. Have an end goal in mind but break each step towards it down, just like you have with the exercise mat and banana or coffee. Know what your next step is for the duration of your workout so you don’t get lost along the way.
Another trick Tracey uses to make the most of every workout is to put the biggest bang-for-your-buck move or sequence at the beginning. “For example, I like to kick off workouts with 5x5 kettlebell clean and press,” he says. “Ninety-nine percent of the time once you’ve got through that you’re in full flow and ready for the next step of your workout.”
It’s equally important to keep things simple. “Make your workout manageable and quantifiable. If you’re already demotivated you’re going to see something as much more difficult than it actually is.” Think: full body and a mix of cardio and strength so you’re working multiple energy systems. See further down below for Tracey’s go-to circuit when motivation and time is at a premium>
"By having simple pre-workout rituals to action and a plan to follow, broken into manageable chunks, you can create strong habits around working out that will endure, even when willpower is wavering."
The final piece of the puzzle for a never ending resource of motivation is to reframe your understanding of the word entirely. “For me, the key to staying motivated is to negate the need for motivation altogether,” says Tracey. “Motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes. A lot of people confuse motivation with enthusiasm. They buy new training kit or sign up for a race that fills them with enthusiasm but that can quickly wear off.
“Instead, by following the steps outlined above, you’re removing the need for motivation by creating and enforcing habits that will stick.” By having simple pre-workout rituals to action and a plan to follow, broken into manageable chunks, you can create strong habits around working out that will endure, even when willpower is wavering.
Beat flagging motivation with Tracey’s go-to full throttle circuit
Tracey says: “This circuit incorporates all planes of movement. It includes pushing, pulling and squatting your bodyweight so involves minimal kit, interspersed with cardio bouts for a metabolic boost. Cycle through the circuit as many times as you can in the given time period. Because it’s not open-ended it doesn’t require great motivation to get it done. If you’ve followed your pre-workout ritual all you need to think is: ‘3-2-1 Go! And in 20 minutes you’ll be done’.”
Andrew Tracey | @theandrew.tracey
Serial burger eater and workout defeater, Andrew Tracey is construction worker by daylight, athletic nomad before and after, and a full-time font of expert strength and conditioning knowledge who has featured on the covers of the UK’s Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness.
Learn more about his training philosophy here: www.youarenotyourgymmembership.com