Dump These 10 Fitness Excuses Holding You Back
With a New Year comes new resolutions and a desire for an improved “you”. Many New Year’s Resolutioners aim to achieve one or more of the following goals:
- Get fit
- Lose fat
- Tone up
- Build muscle
- Get stronger
- Look good naked
Unfortunately after only a few weeks, and in some cases only a few days, the excuses start rolling in. If you are (or know) someone who might be struggling to achieve their fitness goals, here is a list of the top ten fitness excuses along with the strategies to overcome them. If you ever catch yourself or someone else making these excuses, implement the advice in this article and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goals!
Top 10 Fitness Excuses Your Need to Dump
Excuse #1 – I don’t know if my lifting form is right and I’m afraid to get injured
Rest assured, nearly everyone who steps into the weight room for the first time deals with this doubt. Heck, even when I’m trying new exercises or adjusting my form this thought runs through my mind.
The key to overcoming this excuse is confidence through experience as well as feedback from your peers. If you’re short on cash, use a camera or your phone to record your exercise form and then upload it to your weightlifting forum of choice. There’s a high probability experience lifters will give you responsible and extremely beneficial feedback. Lifting form videos also a great way to track your lifting progress over time; it’s always inspiring to see someone go from squatting the bar to squatting 225 just a few months later.
If you’re a social butterfly, ask for form feedback from your experienced gym buddy during and after you perform your set. With enough experience he or she can tell you exactly when your form is breaking down or changing.
If you have disposable income and prefer to listen to a fitness enthusiast with formal education, hire a personal trainer or coach to analyze your form and provide performance feedback.
Excuse #2 – Eating healthy is expensive and bland
I’ve come across far too many people who will buy $120 shoes, $600 phones and rack up $100 bar tabs at the drop of a hat, but scoff at having to pay more than $1 for their beloved hamburger. Although that $1 hamburger is cheap and tasty now, it’s a terrible investment in your long-term health – low grade beef, processed cheese, and a bun with enough preservatives to make any Hollywood celebrity jealous.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Using the average food prices provided by the United States Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics, I successfully created 3,000 calorie meal plans on a $50, $75, and $100 weekly budget. Furthermore all of these weekly meal plans contained NO processed foods; only single ingredient foods.
Minimize your food spending and maximize your value by buying in bulk, using coupons, as well as checking the Sunday newspaper and grocery flyers for sales. Farmer’s markets, local butchers and local farms are also excellent places to stock up on fresh produce and meat. These sellers aren’t bound by corporate restrictions so they’ll typically be willing to provide discounts if you buy in bulk or buy on a set schedule.
If you’re worried about waste, invest in a chest freezer to preserve your precious cargo and ensure you have access to healthy food year-round.
To optimize energy levels you should examine not only your sleep hygiene, daily routine, diet, and supplement intake.
Excuse #3 – I’m too tired
Fatigue is a common excuse used for missing workouts and making poor food choices. When we’re tired we tend to have impaired judgment and make short term decisions that can negatively affect us in the long term.
For example, you set your alarm for a 5:00am workout and plan to fall asleep by 10:00pm. However, you’re checking your phone one last time before bed and you stumble upon a funny YouTube video on your friend’s Facebook wall. Before you know it you’ve watched all the stupid cat videos on YouTube and its 3:00am.
This scenario is a prime example of poor sleep hygiene. To optimize energy levels you should examine your sleep hygiene, daily routine diet, and supplement intake. For sleep hygiene consider the following:
- Avoid looking at a computer or phone screen at least 1 hour before bed.
- Use a facemask and earplugs.
- Sleep in a room between 67 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Read a paperback non-fiction book prior to bed.
- Have sex.
Sex before bed is also a great way to boost dopamine levels and ensure you’re drifting off to sleep quickly and peacefully.
For a daily routine consider the following
- Get up every hour to stretch your legs if you work a desk job.
- Engage in physical activity whenever you can.
- Get some fresh air and natural sunlight to improve mood and energy levels.
By moving around during the day you’re less likely to be restless at night. For diet consider:
- Minimizing alcohol intake prior to bedtime as it negatively affects REM sleep.
- Eat minimally processed foods to avoid blood sugar peaks and valleys.
- Taper stimulant intake as the day progresses.
Caffeine intake too close to bed time could keep you tossing and turning, which tires you out the next day which causes you to drink more coffee (it’s a vicious cycle!). If you still cannot fall asleep quickly or are tossing and turning at night, consider supplementation.
Popular sleep supplements include: ZMA, melatonin, GABA, Phenibut, and 5-HTP.
If you cannot fall asleep quickly or are tossing and turning at night, consider supplementation.
Excuse #4 – I don’t feel like it/I’m not motivated enough
Fluctuations in motivation affects even the most experienced athlete. While professional athletes have national television appearances, sponsorships, and multi-million dollar contracts to keep them motivated, the majority of fitness enthusiasts aren’t so lucky.
If you’re feeling a downturn in motivation, reach out to your gym buddy or a gym regular to establish a friendly bet. For example, share your workout schedule and every time he or she doesn’t see you in the gym, you pay 5 dollars. If you don’t miss a session in a given time period, the counterpart of your could buy you a meal or pay for a sports massage; that way both sides can benefit.
To ensure sustainability of this agreement, make sure you set bet parameters. There’s nothing worse than setting up an aggressive bet in which you’re predestined to fail.
Signing up for a competition, race or meet is also an effective way to boost motivation. Not only do you have a performance “deadline” date, but there’s typically a financial component involved in competing and you’ll be less likely to skip training sessions if you’ve already spent $50-200 on a competitive event.
Finally, consider increasing motivation through non-financially pressuring means like experimenting with new exercises, workout layouts, classes, and new music. I’ve found attending a spin class or kickboxing class to provide a nice change of pace from my usual weightlifting-centric routine. There’s also nothing better than turning on your iPod during your warm-up to have a brand new playlist of pump-up songs blasting through the earbuds.
Excuse #5 – There’s not enough time in the day
Most of us sleep 7 to 8 hours per day and work 8 to 10 hours per day, which leaves us with 7 to 9 hours of free time on the weekdays and even more time on the weekend. The average American wastes 2.8 hours per day in front of the television. Merely cutting this television time in half provides more than enough time to complete an intense workout.
If you’re unwilling to cut out television completely, then this approach can give you the best of both worlds. Additionally, you can incorporate exercise during your favorite TV shows; every time a commercial break starts you can jump rope, run in place, perform planks, (jump) squats, push-ups, lunges, and pull-ups.
I’ve also found that if you work a traditional 8-5 desk job, then scheduling your workout early in the morning prior to starting the workday can be an effective way to “find time.” I often find morning exercisers are more likely to practice good sleep hygiene and less likely to make the excuse that work prevented them from exercising.
Although evening workouts may be the most convenient in theory, if you find yourself missing workouts try adjusting your schedule. If you schedule your workout as the first activity of the day you should experience higher energy levels throughout the day, clearer focus, and ample free time in the evenings to spend with friends, family, and loved ones.
Excuse #6 – Everyone in the gym is going to judge me
Over the past few years there’s been an unfortunate development among fitness enthusiasts: the looking down upon New Year’s Resolutioners and new gym-goers.
Firstly, anyone who makes fun of you for wanting to improve your physical, mental and emotional health through exercise should be ignored. These judgmental types of people won’t get very far in life and are just jealous that you’re taking the initiative to make positive changes.
Secondly, nearly everyone in the gym has similar if not the same goal(s) as you – to get fit, live a long healthy live, gain muscle, lose fat and perform at their highest levels. All experienced gym-goers started out just like you; nervous and anxious about looking silly in the gym. What they quickly found was that NO ONE was judging, pointing or laughing regarding their exercise habits.
Many experienced lifters are eager to discuss exercise tips, nutrition habits and provide training feedback to new gym members. When you walk into the gym, check the ego at the door, exercise to the best of your abilities and do not be afraid to ask gym monitors and experienced gym-goers for help. You’ll gain respect for wanting guidance on how to reach your goals.
If you’ve been on the same steady state cardio routine since day one, then experiment with a different form.
Excuse#7 – Exercise isn’t fun
Although everyone has days when exercising feels like a chore, you should look forward to and enjoy exercising. If you’re not enjoying your current exercising regimen consider switching it up. If you usually perform a lot of cardio, incorporate more weight training and dial back the cardio.
The same applies if you’re currently on a routine with lots of weight training and little to no cardio. If you only perform traditional straight sets (e.g. 3×8) during weight training, experiment with intensity techniques like drop sets, circuit training, and rest-pause sets. You can also adjust exercise selection, volume, intensity, and frequency to keep your workout exciting.
If you’ve been on the same steady state cardio routine since day one, then experiment with high intensity interval training or a different form of cardio such as swimming, jump rope, hiking, rowing, or cycling.
Excuse #8 – If I pop a fat loss pill then I shouldn’t need to exercise at all
As much as we’d all love to pop a magic pill that can help us lose fat and gain muscle without needing to change our exercise and eating habit, no such product exists. The safest way to lose fat and prevent rebound weight gain is to view the journey as a marathon rather than a sprint.
Sure, you can pop endless thermogenics, spend hours on treadmill and eat rabbit food, but you’ll end up with atrocious bloodwork, lose muscle, and feel physically/emotional/mentally drained; take it from someone who made that mistake early in his fitness journey!
Before introducing fat loss supplements employ the 80/20 rule; 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of your inputs – eating fewer calories, more protein and adequate healthy fats as well as engaging in both cardiovascular activity and resistance training exercises. Fork put-downs are the most powerful fat loss exercise in your arsenal; use it wisely!
Once you have you rest, nutrition and exercise routine dialed-in incorporating fat loss and hunger suppression supplements can help you to blast through fat loss plateaus and help you achieve that coveted six-pack you’ve been after. Supplements should be in addition to, not the focus of your well-rounded fat loss approach.
Excuse #9 – I can’t seem to build muscle no matter what I do, there’s no point in trying
I hear this excuse most often from males, especially teenage males. This audience typically classifies themselves as “ectomorphs.” Luckily this excuse might be the easiest of them all to overcome.
This audience tends to have a goal of building as much muscle possible, has been consistently hitting the gym, but hasn’t been seeing changes in the mirror or on the scale. The fix for this is easy…. EAT MORE!
I don’t care what some online calorie calculator says; if it tells you to eat 3000 calories per day and you’re not gaining mass, eat more! Bump it up to 3500 per day. If that doesn’t work try 4,000. If you increase your caloric intake by 1,000 per day I can guarantee the scale will start moving and you’ll start discovering muscles you didn’t know you had.
This audience tends to overestimate its caloric intake as well. I’ve worked with many new lifters who claim to consume 5,000 per day and not gain weight, but when I force them to use a food scale and record those values in a food log like MyFitnessPal we quickly find they’re eating closer to 2,500.
The key to gaining muscle mass is a caloric surplus, adequate rest, ample protein and healthy fats, reasonable routine programming, and progression in the weight room.
Excuse #10 – I never see progress rapidly enough whenever I exercise
Similar to excuse #8, users of this excuse must learn to view the fitness journey as a life-long marathon rather than a 30-day sprint. Day-to-day you might notice little to no change in the mirror or on the scale, but over a period of 6 months to 1 year the changes can be incredible!
No one can force you to exercise, but once you start feeling and looking better you’ll quickly become hooked. After just a month or two of regular exercise and eating for your goals you’ll be hooked and exercise will become engrained in your daily routine as a habit.
To ensure motivation stays high throughout your fitness journey, take scale measurements every week, progress photos every month and body part measurements every month. Keep that information in your journal and refer back to it when you feel as though you’re not making progress; it’s amazing how small week-to-week changes can lead to radical transformations in the long term.
Comment below with other excuses you’ve heard others say or you’ve caught yourself saying. Please also feel free to share additional tips on how to overcome the excuses I’ve mentioned.