I have talked about the importance of deload weeks in the past, but one thing that is not often discussed is what happens when you lose the motivation to train during such periods. It is often assumed that if you take one or even two weeks off from training, you will step back into the gym bouncing off the walls with energy and frothing at the mouth ready to hit PRs.
But what happens when you don’t look forward to going to the gym when you’re due to return? What happens when your workouts are low in quality and you feel as though you’ve lost strength from taking time off?
Many people would say that you are suffering from overtraining symptoms, and you simply need more time off. But if one week turns to two, what’s stopping two from turning into 10 weeks off?
I’m lucky in that I have never had to really motivate myself to go to the gym, excluding the time I was doing two-a-day workouts. Exercise has always been something that has played a big part of my life – I danced several hours per day from the time I was six until 21. From 18 to 21, I ran every single day. At 21 I started lifting weights four times a week, and then increased that to five or six days.
I never missed a workout. To me, going to the gym or going for a run was the equivalent of brushing my teeth – it is just something I did without thinking. But I know it’s not that easy for most people.
Since I have matured and learned to treat my body better, I’ve cut back my training to four or five days a week. I have no problem taking three rest days in a row. However, a lot of people cannot handle that much time off as they then lose motivation to go back to the gym.
Listening to my body always takes precedence over fitting in a scheduled workout, however, I know that when I take one day off, it will not turn into two or three unscheduled rest days without a reason.
I took two weeks off lifting when I went to Montenegro and – I’m not going to lie – going back to the gym SUCKED. I had never not been motivated to work out before and I wasn’t sure what was going on. I felt tired during my warm-ups and I was lifting about one-third less weight than usual. I couldn’t take any more time off or I’d risk never coming back (!) so I had to come up with a solution.
I think a large part of the reason I felt unmotivated was because I just picked up my program where I left off. I typically start a new program after a deload but I had prioritised my clients’ programming and neglected my own training in the process.
When I decided to do the 5/3/1 program, I began to look forward to the gym again. I was grateful the first week was relatively easy, as it allowed me to gradually improve my enthusiasm. This week is my first max testing week and I’m so excited to go to the gym! This morning I had three vials of blood taken and went straight to the gym afterwards to test my bench press without even thinking about it. In hindsight, it may have been a little stupid of me, but I’m not going to question my enthusiasm when just two weeks ago it was severely lacking.
It’s normal to go through dips and valleys when it comes to motivation. You can’t expect to feel extremely motivated to train all the time, and it’s perfectly fine to grow bored of your training occasionally. It just means you need to make your training fun again!
Have you ever lost motivation to go to the gym?