4 Tips To Avoid Missing Workouts When You’re “Too Tired”

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5pm hits and work is finally over.

You had a few wins today, but the tradeoff is mental fatigue and a tinge of hunger because you skipped your afternoon snack.

You also have a bigger problem: you still need to workout.

Of course, you actually want to workout, because you know you’ll feel better afterwards (like you always do), but you need to run home to change clothes and get a quick bite.

As you’re heading home, that’s when the rationalizations start to kick in.

“I had a long day. My workout would probably be better if I rested today, then really hit it hard tomorrow. Plus, I keep reading from that Matt guy how important recovery is anyway. Maybe I’ll just go home, have a snack, chill for a few minutes, and see how I feel after that.”

After a few more conversations with yourself, you’re home now and here’s what happens next:

If you’re single:

You get home, kick your shoes off, and open the fridge. Maybe you grab some leftovers or a prepped meal to heat up, or maybe a protein shake with cereal, or something like oatmeal and fruit. OR, after you open the fridge, you don’t find anything right away, so you grab a protein bar from the cabinet and lay down on the couch to check your phone. You tell yourself, “I’ll lay down for just a few minutes, then I’ll head to the gym. 10 minutes, tops.” We BOTH know that once you hit that couch and lay down after a long day… 8 out of 10 times, you aren’t making it to the gym.

If you’re in a relationship and/or live with someone:

You get home, and the instant you open the door, you’re overwhelmed with the delicious smell of whatever glorious creation is being cooked. It’s at that moment, you know you’re not making it to the gym. OR, maybe when you get home your partner is already cozy and wants you to join them. You’re both hungry, so you discuss dinner plans. You half-ass throw out the comment that you were wanting to go to the gym, but then they mention getting food from your all’s favorite restaurant⏤again, in that moment you know you’re not making it to the gym.

I know these situations so well because it’s either happened to me personally, or to a client of mine who’s asked me for advice in “weak” moments like these.

Making the responsible decision is already hard enough, but when you’re tired from work, school, kids, whatever, it makes it almost impossible if you don’t have a plan.

So whether you’re someone who does shift work, someone with a 9-5 job, or even one of the psychopaths whom workout before work even starts⏤these tips are for you.

4 Tips To Avoid Missing Workouts When You’re “Too Tired”

1. Go straight from work to the gym. KEEP MOMENTUM.

Going home after work to grab a snack and change sounds like a harmless task, but as you read above, it can be the difference between you working out or not. Why? Because the second you lose momentum, your willpower decreases exponentially. The rule of thumb I tell my clients is that they cannot get comfortable in the period between work ending and their workout starting. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. So even if you decide to go home after work, I highly recommend to stay on your feet. I repeat: do. not. sit. down. It’s a trap.

2. Make going to the gym as frictionless as possible. Be prepared.

When I say “frictionless,” I mean in the fewest decisions possible. Whether you go to the gym in the morning or after work, I want you to lay these out the night before:

  • gym clothes (socks, compression shorts, sports bra, etc.)
  • gym bag
  • water bottle
  • keys and wallet
  • pre-workout if you take it, or coffee pre-prepped
  • any snack or food needed

Whatever decisions you can “automate” the night before to make getting to the gym easier, do it.

3. Use “temptation bundling” to make working out more attractive.

I read about this concept in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He notes that temptation bundling works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do.

His formula:

  • After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [HABIT I NEED].
  • After [HABIT I NEED], I will [HABIT I WANT].

Using our example:

  • After [finishing work], I will [go to the gym].
  • After [going to the gym], I will [watch my Netflix show guilt-free].

Just make sure that whatever you use for [HABIT I WANT], avoid using food/treats as a reward. This is a recipe for disaster for your relationship with food.

4. Outsource your motivation.

I went in-depth on this with my podcast called “6 Ways To Hold Yourself More Accountable To Your Fitness Goals.” You can watch it here or listen to it here.

I may be biased, but the most powerful motivator is hiring someone.

I’ve had multiple coaches (and still do), and here’s what I’ve learned from it:

  • I’m OK with letting myself down, but hate letting them down, so I’ll do what I need to even when I don’t want to.
  • They’re checking in with me regularly, so if I haven’t kept my word, I’m going to look like a lazy piece of shit and feel bad about myself. (Harsh, but true.)
  • Just like you’ve learned from this article, good coaches identify problems and solutions I’m not aware of, then hold me accountable in following through.
  • I’m always looking for better ways of doing something, but this can prevent from me doing what works long enough to see results in the first place. Coaches get me out of my own head and focused on what matters.
  • I often know what to do. But coaches make me do it. When you pay for an outcome, you don’t dick around.

If any of these hit home with you, consider applying for my 1-on-1 coaching program.

***

Working out when you’re tired is hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. More consistent workouts = better results.

Hopefully after reading these tips you feel more equipped to punch the excuse of “I’m tired,” directly in the face. Or, you know, something like that.

Appreciate you reading.

-Matt

P.S. BONUS TIP: I almost forgot that I made an entire workshop on solving problems like this for busy people like us. If you’re interested, it’s a mouthful, but it’s called Automated Fitness 2.0: An Insider’s Guide To Putting Your Fitness on Autopilot, Building Healthy Habits That Work For You, and Making Failure Impossible. If you Iiked this post, you’d love what I teach in this workshop (for only $47).

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2 Comments

  1. Javi

    Great stuff man!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt McLeod

      Thank you, Javi!

      Reply

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