Summer may be the season of activity, but it can be the toughest time to scrounge up the motivation to train. When it's warm out, all the barbecues, vacations, pool time, kids being home from school, and other unavoidable action can make the gym an afterthought.
If you're struggling to find the time and drive, take your lead from these ErgoGenix athletes and make the most of what time you have!
Kelley Smith: Fitness Fanatic, Nashville, TN
Tailor your workouts to your schedule. The only bad workout is the one you didn't do. You can still fit everything into your busy summer schedule if you simply choose a workout that fits.
"While I'm lucky enough to have a gym at work, I always tailor my training to the amount of time I have available on my lunch break," says Kelley. "It could be 15-20 minutes of high intensity interval training, 30-45 minutes of steady state cardio, or a short and simple lifting session. Customizing my workout so that I can fit it in allows me to return to work with renewed energy, ready to tackle the rest of the day. Don't worry, we have showers at work so that I can wash the stink off."
Find rhythm in your rest. Working out indoors doesn't mean you have to leave fun behind.
"It might sound strange, but I love to dance through my workout," Kelley says. "While I'm likely a distraction to my workout buddies, grooving to music between sets helps me re-center and regain my focus for the next lift."
This is also a favorite technique of Kelley's fellow ErgoGenix athlete Kizzito Ejam, who has danced his way through every workout he's done for Bodybuilding.com.
Do your cardio outside (with a furry friend). As the weather warms up, the treadmill is no place to be. Not only is summer a good time to embrace the outdoors, but studies have found that outdoor physical activity can have as much as a 50 percent greater positive effect on mental health than going to the gym.
"When the weather is nice, I take a 20-30 minute run with my puppy, Abbey Rose," Kelley says. "It's a great way to exercise her, and it makes cardio seem a lot less painful."
Andrew Prue, NPC Men's Physique, Myrtle Beach, SC
Don't just do it for looks. "My friend and ErgoGenix teammate Dane Martin said I should start working out to better myself and keep my mind off things," Andrew recalls. "I needed an escape and the gym not only became therapy, but an everyday hobby. I wanted to not only get bigger, but live a healthier lifestyle. Never in a million years did I ever think fitness would benefit me in all the ways it has."
Keep learning and stay fascinated. No matter how long you've been at the fitness game, you never stop learning.
"One thing I don't think people do often enough is ask questions and educate themselves," says Andrew. "After about 10 years of working out, I still learn new things every day simply by asking questions, reading fitness material online, or using social media."
Really curious what a more advanced lifter like Andrew is doing in the weight room and why? Just ask!
LaDawn Latawiec: Personal Trainer, Kelowna, BC
Music is a must. "Staying motivated can be hard, especially on days when you really don't feel like doing anything," says LaDawn. "I suggest finding a motivational video or song that really pumps you up and gets you excited," she adds.
Create a playlist of tracks that amp you up, especially if they're tied to a compelling memory. A study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that channeling that memory—or even just the emotion of the singer—boosts the motivational power of a song, which has been shown to improve physical performance. Looking for a heart-pumping compilation? Check out our 2017 Billboard Music Awards playlist.
Share your goals. "This may sound silly, but if you tell people what your plans are—whether it's to go to the gym 5 days a week or eat healthier—it helps you stick to them," LaDawn says. "The questions they'll ask you on a weekly or daily basis about your progress will help keep you accountable."
Plan and track everything. "Having a plan is so important—especially in the beginning," LaDawn says. "Don't let yourself feel lost!"
Bring a copy of your workout to the gym, follow it to the letter (or as close as you can), and track all the reps, sets, and weights you use with an app like Bodyspace. You won't regret it!
Gabriel Morales, Weight-Loss Specialist, Los Angeles
Start where you are. "When I started, I was so heavy I couldn't do much," Gabriel says, recalling his 375-pound peak weight. "I was considered morbidly obese. I just started by walking and hitting a punching bag. As the weight kept coming off, I started lifting weights and upped the cardio."
Remember: Everything counts—as long as you do it.
Set attainable goals. You may be dreaming about a double or triple-digit weight loss, and Gabriel definitely was. But, as his journey progressed, he saw that the path to a big change was through many small ones.
"Setting unrealistic goals will certainly lead to failure," Gabriel says. "It's great to have an ultimate goal of losing 100 pounds, but make your first goal to lose something easier—like 10 pounds. Once you achieve that, build upon it by losing another 10 pounds."
Gabriel's tips are great at any time of year, but they're especially worthy during those months when gym time can be at a premium. Build up a little momentum now, carry it over into the fall or winter when you have more time to spare, and surprise yourself a year from now!
Samantha Tuohy, Personal Trainer, La Habra, CA
Engage in positive self-talk. "Stay motivated by telling yourself, 'I can do this,' 'don't quit,' and 'don't cheat yourself,'" Samantha says.
It might feel a bit silly at first, but plenty of people swear by it—if you stick with it. Give yourself time to develop the habit, and if you need further motivation, remember that the endorphin release you get after a great workout positively affects your mood and reduces stress. In other words, it just feels great!
Trust the process. Make sure you sweat through your training session, but don't spend summer sweating instant results. This is a project that will last far more than a single season!
"Unfortunately, results don't happen overnight," Samantha says. "There's no magic pill, and you'll have to work harder than you've probably ever worked. When you think you've pushed your hardest, add another 5-second hold or a few more reps to your routine. Remind yourself that with each day you're getting closer to your goal, and never quit."
- Mitchell, R. (2013). Is physical activity in natural environments better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science & Medicine, 91, 130-134.
- Karageorghis, C. I., Mouzourides, D. A., Priest, D. L., Sasso, T. A., Morrish, D. J., & Walley, C. L. (2009). Psychophysical and ergogenic effects of synchronous music during treadmill walking. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 31(1), 18-36.