Admittedly, I’ve been MIA lately. When I started this blog back in March, I was pumping out articles three times a week while maintaining a full time teaching job and sticking to my own training schedule. Once summer approached, the lazy summer days convinced me that posting twice a week would be enough (Like what I did there with taking the onus off myself and blaming summer for my apathy!). And finally, a trip to Italy had me thinking that really, I should be doing nothing but eating pasta, drinking wine, and enjoying the good life.
Maybe its because I took ten days off training, maybe its because I allowed myself to indulge in every whim for nearly two weeks, but when I came back stateside, training had lost it’s appeal. Everything felt heavier and my will to throw myself under weight was suddenly lacking. Post Italy, I was dragging myself to the gym and hating every workout.
Unless you were born with an iron will, we all have moments when we lose our drive. Sometimes those moments are incidental, and sometimes they last for long periods of time. In other fields, such as writing (Did you notice that my drive was lacking in the month of August?), the right approach to apathy can simply be taking a break, switching gears, and letting the inspiration come to you.
But with training, taking a break can be detrimental to progress.
So what, then, is one to do when they’ve lost their mojo and training becomes a daunting task?
Stay Committed to Getting to the Gym- Luckily, I was raised with some classic Catholic guilt, so skipping the gym all together isn’t an option for me. That’s not to say that I’ve been making the best of my time at the gym, but at least I’ve been getting myself there, and that is, as they say, half the battle. One thing that keeps me going is the fact that my coach programs workouts specifically for me. If I miss my training days, he’s doing a lot of work for nothing and as anyone who has played sports knows, I wouldn’t be a team player if I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. Sure, he gets paid either way, but this is more than a business transaction. A coach-athlete relationship is a relationship and successful relationships require loyalty. It would be disloyal of me to just cut out on training because I didn’t feel like it so even though my mojo is gone, I’ve been getting to the gym. See how that Catholic guilt works there?!?
Reassess Your Goals- For the past two years, my goal has been to qualify for the American Open. This year, I’ll be traveling in Southeast Asia for six weeks right before the American Open (!), so even if I were to qualify, I wouldn’t be able to attend. For a competitive person like me, not having that over-arching goal can really impact my drive. Even if I add a few kilos to my snatch in the next few weeks, I’ll have lost those gains by the time I get home no matter what I do. Thus, trying to hit PRs for the sake of hitting PRs isn’t enough to keep me motivated right now. I need a goal that makes sense and meshes with my long term plan.
Instead, I’ve shifted gears. My new goal is to get as strong and as cardiovascularly fit as possible before I leave for my trip. This way, I’ll have the stamina to enjoy more activities while I’m away, and if I’m able to pop into some CrossFit classes in Thailand or Cambodia, I’ll actually be able to do the workouts. (It’s been some time since I’ve done a WOD. I’ve been strictly a lifter for almost two years now). Sure, it’s not the same quality of training that I’ll get when I’m home, but being able to at least do CrossFit while I’m away will help me maintain a good bulk of my strength so that I have less rebuilding to do when I get home.
The funny thing is that these new goals change almost nothing, except my motivation. I’m still doing the same workouts that I would be doing for my Weightlifting training, but I’m finding more reason to push through when they get difficult.
Lower Your Working Numbers- When I coached, I knew when an athlete needed to lower their working weight to get the most out of a workout. But just like a lawyer should never represent themselves, I find coaching myself to be difficult. (My coach programs from afar). Like anyone, my ego can get the best of me at times and I can stubbornly refuse to drop my working weights even when I’m missing lifts at 85-90%.
I work off inflated numbers, meaning that while I can snatch 62, I base my percentages off a higher number. Over time, that number climbed it’s way up to 70 kilos which translated into a lot of missed lifts post Italy. Before my trip, I was crisp and hitting heavy weight consistency, but after my trip, an 8kg inflation was too great for me to hit my lifts and finish workouts.
And so after a week of denial, I dropped my working weight down to 66 and suddenly, I can snatch again. Making lifts vs. missing lifts is often the difference between enjoying a training a session and effing hating it, so reassess your ego if you’ve been consistently missing for a few sessions and change your working weight so that you make lifts. This will make you better in the long run anyway because making lifts trains you to make lifts and missing trains you to miss. So you might as well as drop the ego and enjoy the training session sooner than later.
Remember Your Original Purpose– I started Weightlifting to improve my snatches and clean and jerks for CrossFit. Even when I’m not lifting as heavy as I’d like, I’m still a hell of a lot more technically proficient than I was before I made the transition into a full-fledged weightlifter. Before that, I’d started CrossFit to get in shape. Those purposes never really change, even when I’m focusing on other goals. I still want to improve my snatches and clean and jerks to be more technically sound, and I still want to be in incredible shape. When I remember those basic reasons before a training session, some of the pressure to perform X or qualify for Y is removed and I enjoy the workout a lot more. The next time you get frustrated, remember that you originally started CrossFit so you could have the energy to play with your kids or weightlifting so you could build strong bones, and suddenly the fact that you didn’t add five pounds to your back squat today won’t break you. It’s always about the bigger picture, but sometimes we forget to step back and see it.
Try Something New- I’m not advocating for you to quit lifting and go join Pure Barre (which by the way, is actually pretty damn hard). I just mean you might want to try something new within your workout. If you do nothing but snatch and clean and jerk every day, sometimes you will be bored with snatching and clean and jerking. Do anything too much and it will cease to be fun at times.
Incidentally, I wasn’t able to finish my workout last night because the gym was closing so I ended up going in early this morning to finish my squats and accessory work. With some extra time, I decided to do some rowing, which I usually dislike. Instead, breaking up the monotony of my training cycle by doing a workout that wasn’t centered around Olympic lifting left me inspired and ready to hit some big lifts in my pm session. That’s all it took. So throw in some handstand walks, muscle ups, or a mini-metcon once in a blue moon and see how the challenge suits you. You may find that it’s just what you needed to keep the gym fun and bring back your motivation.
When all else fails, new gear and apparel is always a great way to make a workout fun! For some awesome discounts, check out all the promo codes The Barbell Press is bringing you!