Most people know they should be making working out a priority, but most people are also really good at making excuses not to work out.
I’m no stranger to this, either. I used to be too unmotivated, too busy, too tired/weak/stressed out to work out. I would come up with excuses, and though I’d feel a little guilty for doing so, I’d always tell myself my excuses were good enough to justify my lack of exercise.
But while it’s easy to come up with really good excuses not to work out, those excuses are never going to help you reach your fitness goals.
Because the only way to reach your goals is to put in the hard work. You have to push past your own mental limits. There are no shortcuts.
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi
So here are 19 incredibly reasonable excuses not to work out—and how to bust through them every time:
1. You don’t have time. If you still think you need an hour plus in the gym to get in a good workout, you’re kidding yourself. The beauty of HIIT means you can get a crazy effective workout in as little as 12 minutes. And I don’t care how busy you are: you have an extra 12 minutes to work out. Get it done.
2. You don’t have access to (or can’t afford) a gym. Get a few pieces of workout equipment that will last a lifetime for your home, or just ditch the equipment and use your own body instead.
You can get in incredible shape using your own bodyweight if you know what you’re doing. So don’t let the lack of a gym be your excuse.
3. You’re too stressed. Did you know that working out can actually help you feel less stressed out? It’s true.
Since exercise subjects your body to a low level form of stress, working out consistently can help your body build up an immunity to all of life’s stressors.
Not only that, there’s pretty much no better way to get rid of stress than to kick ass at a really tough workout.
4. You’re not athletic. I don’t care if you were always picked last in junior high P.E., if you can’t throw a baseball to save your life or if jump roping still makes you fall flat on your face once in a while. In Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman’s words:
“If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
And if you put your mind to it, you can work out like one.
5. You work. A lot. All the more reason you need to take a few minutes each day and exercise.
Not only will it help combat the negative effects of sitting all day, help clear your mind, make you more creative and help you feel less stressed, it’ll keep you healthy enough in the long-term so you can keep doing all that important work you’re passionate about.
Can’t seem to find the time? Fit in an early morning exercise session, take a workout break instead of a coffee break, schedule it in at lunch, etc. If there’s a will, there’s a way. DO IT.
6. You’re a parent. If you have kids, you need to make sure your workouts are even more of a priority. Not only do you need to take care of yourself by having a few minutes to yourself everyday, you also owe it to them to keep yourself healthy into old age.
Plus, don’t you want to set a good example for your kids so they can grow up knowing the importance of staying active?
And if you still think having kids means you don’t have time, go back to point #1, and make time.
7. You don’t have/can’t afford home equipment. Did I mention how great bodyweight training is? Push ups, jump lunges, air squats, planks and more are all 100% portable and scalable (meaning them you can adjust their difficulty to your fitness level).
Think bodyweight exercises aren’t hard enough? Just try a handstand push up and tell me you can’t get incredibly strong using your own body.
8. You travel a lot. Like most people, I used to completely give up my workouts when I traveled, but no longer.
Because whether all you have is a tiny hotel room, a nearby park or your parents’ basement, you can still work out while traveling using minimal equipment like a jump rope or even just your own body weight.
9. It’s just too hard. Working hard is the only way you’re ever going to get the results you want. But remember, you just have to work as hard as you personally can—don’t compare yourself to others.
If you need to take breaks, or shorten the number of rounds, do it. Just don’t skip it all together.
And if you need more accountability, you can get that too.
10. You don’t know how to get started. Don’t just go to a gym and stare at the endless rows of machines—arm yourself with some workouts, load up your iPod or get a buddy and get going.
Putting on your workout clothes and hitting the ‘start’ button on your timer is the hardest part. But it gets easier. I promise.
11. You’re too exhausted. Exercising will actually give you more energy—not less. You’ll feel pumped up afterward, and less fatigued during the day.
This works for me every single time. And it’ll work for you too.
So get off the couch and get moving.
12. You’re already thin. If you’re already thin, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about your health. Skinny people can still have a high body fat percentage, which can lead to dangerous fat that gathers around your abdomen as well as put you at a high risk for osteoporosis.
Doing some resistance training and keeping your heart healthy by getting in proper activity is still as beneficial for you as for someone trying to actually lose weight.
13. You can’t do any hard exercises. I never used to be able to do most tough exercises either—not even a push up. It’s not easy at first, but if you put your mind to it and push through your mental blocks, you’ll get there.
14. You absolutely hate running. So do I (well, except for sprints, which even I have to admit are pretty cool).
Luckily for us, running is not the only way to get in really good shape. HIIT takes less time and is more efficient—and you’ll be way less bored doing a sub 20-minute workout than you would be if you were running for miles.
15. You don’t have anybody to work out with. There’s a reason so many people go to workout classes or hire a trainer: it’s way easier to stay motivated when there are other people around you pushing you to work hard.
But since it’s not always possible to work out with other people, you have to find ways to motivate yourself to push past your limits—even when no one else is watching. Mastering the skill of working out alone now will benefit you for your entire life.
16. The weather sucks. Yeah, I know, working out outside is the best, but if it’s pouring rain, below freezing, or boiling hot out, don’t give up on your workout altogether.
I don’t care if you have a tiny studio apartment or a single room—you can still work out (just skip the sprints).
17. You’re too depressed. If you’re depressed, the last thing in the world you probably want to do is exercise (I know, I’ve been there). But as much as you may want to lay in bed all day under the covers, muster all the motivation you can and get up and exercise instead.
And trust me, it works: at the times in my life that I’ve been the most depressed, the one thing that helped more than anything else was getting a little exercise.
18. You’ve tried before without results. Depending on your current level of fitness, it may take up to a month to see any results (although HIIT can get you results in even just a couple of weeks), and that can certainly be discouraging. Because of the time it takes, most people end up giving up too early, and get extra discouraged as a result.
But I don’t care how many times you’ve tried before, if you stick with it, and you’re consistent with your workouts, you will get in shape.
It’s not easy… but you can’t give up.
19. You’re just not motivated. We all need a little push at times. Here’s yours.
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