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Need motivation! 11 Tips for Non-stop Exercise Motivation

Even the fittest people on the planet (who actually LOVE working out) have times when they’re not very motivated to exercise.

It’s a totally natural thing.

But changing your attitude and getting yourself in action anyway is what separates the people who have a body and life they love from those who don’t.

Right now I’m going to share 11 powerful exercise motivation tips that you can use anytime to get you fired up to create the body you deserve:

1. Watch exercise videos on YouTube – There’s something about watching other people doing the things that we want to do that really gets us motivated. It’s actually related to something in our brains called “mirror neurons”. These neurons basically simulate us doing whatever we are observing. For example, if we are watching a video of someone doing squats, certain systems in our brain are sort of visualizing us doing the same thing. Where the mind goes, the body will follow! So watch some cool exercise videos while you’re having your pre-workout nutrition to get you turned on.

2. Use music to get you pumped – When I played football we always had the music bumping while we were getting geared up for the game. You’ll find this today in pretty much any sporting event you can name. When you need to get pumped up to perform, play your favorite motivational workout music and you can’t help but be ready to crush it. Here’s one of my favorite playlist if you want to use it (just click play if you have Spotify):

3. Get an exercise partner – The accountability, the support, and the motivation is incredibly powerful when you know you’ve got someone counting on you. Now this one comes with a BIG warning. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make an agreement with a training buddy that you know has a history of not following through. Sure, your friend may need to get in shape too, but if you two are at the same level, then it’s more likely that if one of you makes an excuse then the other person will gladly except it. “Girl, I had a long night, let’s just go out for breakfast…” “That’s cool, I wasn’t feeling it today anyway.” WTF. Don’t let this happen to you. Choose someone who will challenge you, and will consistently lift you up to the next level.

4. Get a coach or a trainer – If you don’t have any good options for training buddies right now, or if it’s your schedule, or your neighborhood is too far away, or if you just want to go it alone… An experienced trainer can be literal money-in-the-bank for you having the body you want.

Not only do good trainers have the specific knowledge you need to get you fit faster, they can actually plan things for you, drive you to get better, and hold you accountable when you try to fall off. I really don’t think there’s a better investment in the world than having a good trainer.

5. Read motivational exercise quotes – If you’re feeling like you have no motivation to exercise, then the right message can instantly get you back on track. Read exercise motivational quotes or empowering self-development quotes to remind you of how awesome you really are. You can print them out, write them in your journal, or stash them in places that you’ll automatically see them each day (like the fridge or the bathroom mirror). Here are some of my favorites that you can use 🙂

Exercise Motivational Quote 10Motivation Image 12Exercise Motivational Quote 7







6. Review your WHY card (if you don’t have one, make one NOW!) – Something I do with my clients is help them get consciously connected to WHY they truly want to get the body and health they desire. Often times, people are operating on the surface level, and want to get in shape because of what I call an “uninspired fantasy”.

They’re not on fire for getting in shape, and they haven’t made a DECISION that they are going to do this no matter what. This is what separates those that fail from those that succeed. You have to be intimately connected to WHY you absolutely MUST make this happen. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to have a strong, healthy body?” And be 100% honest.

It could be ‘to be a better example for your kids’, or ‘to avoid a chronic illness that’s plagued your family’, or ‘to ensure that your spouse or significant other will always be attracted to you’. No matter what it is, it’s YOUR reason and you need to keep it close. It’s what will help push you through if any challenges come up along the way. Write it down on a card, and keep it where you can easily find it for a reminder.

7. Use exercise motivational pictures – This goes back to utilizing our “mirror neurons” like in tip #1. It’s also a powerful tool to use as a “map” so that you can feed your brain a destination or idea of what you want your body to look like. If you’re out-of-shape and your goal is healthy weight loss, then having an image in your mind of exactly how you want your body to look can make a huge difference.

You can use fitness magazines, or even images online of people with bodies that you aspire to have. If you want, you can even print out an image or tear out the magazine page and paste your face over the body of your dreams. It may sound crazy, but many people who’ve successfully transformed their body have used this trick to tap in to the power of their mind.

8. Use actual motivational EXERCISES – According to world renown success coach, Anthony Robbins, your “motion creates emotion”. This is built on the psychological understanding that how you move affects the way you think, feel, and behave. Your emotions affect the way you feel physically, but the opposite is also true.

Movements such as clapping, jumping up and down, and pumping your fist in celebration all change the chemistry of your body. It’s a built in neuro-association to positive feelings that you can tap in to at any time you want. Take control of how your body feels instantly by taking control of your physical posture and movements.

Jump up and down like your team just scored the winning point, raise your hands in the air and celebrate and I guarantee you’ll instantly feel recharged. You might want to take an example from Olympic Hurdler Michelle Jenneke if you want to see how it’s done. Oh, and by the way, she’s won a lot of races like this… just sayin’. 😉

9. Use social accountability – As human beings, it’s programmed in to us to stay congruent with the ideas we have about ourselves. One of the ideas we tend to carry is that we want to keep our word so that we don’t look like someone who doesn’t do what they say and face the label of being the dirty L-word… a liar.

Use this built-in psychological trigger to your advantage. If you’ve got plans to workout, then let EVERYONE you can know them (especially if you know you might break them). Post it on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media you frequent. This is going all in and letting the world know that you’re going to do what you said. Post something like: “Gotta hit the sack. I’ve gotta have my butt in the gym at 6 a.m.!” Unless you want to be a liar, I bet you’ll have your behind in that gym tomorrow morning. If you want to take a less vocal approach, you can just let your family or friends know your plans. But if you have kids, and you’ve ever told your child that you were going to do something and you don’t do it, you’re going to wish you used the social media instead!

10. O.K., have some caffeine 🙂 – If it’s just a lack of energy to begin with, obviously you want to get your nutrition and lifestyle in order so that you feel good all the time (that’s what the information in here at The Shawn Stevenson Model is all about!) But if you need a kick in the pants, and you don’t want to stress your body with ridiculous artificial energy drinks, then having a cup or 2 of your favorite caffeinated beverage before your workout is like magic.

Having caffeine pre-workout does some really amazing things for fat loss anyway (if that is your goal). So you get even more bang for your buck by doing this. I go in detail about how it works and how to use it for the best results in The Fat Loss Code. But for your basic intents and purposes, if you want to kick on that energy, have some high quality green tea or coffee pre-workout and you’ll get the edge you need to get going.

11. Just go!!! – This is the easiest, but most overlooked tactic of all. Award winning actor and director Woody Allen is famous for saying “80% of success is just showing up.” This quote has permeated the health and personal development field because many of the successful people believe it’s totally accurate.

So if 80% of success is just showing up, don’t you need to just SHOW UP at the gym and let everything else fall in to place?

A lot of times people are not motivated to exercise because they attach too many other things to it. They have to have the right shoes, the right outfit, get there at this specific time to get everything done, make sure they have their water bottle, special towel, a new playlist, shaker bottle, gloves, pre and post workout supplements, and on and on…

The reality is you don’t need ANY of that stuff to exercise and take care of your body. If you’re always waiting for the perfect conditions, then you’ll never get anything done. Just follow these simple instructions: Insert your butt into your car seat and drive yourself to the gym. That alone will get you 80% of the way.

Please leave your feedback in the comments section and let me know if any of these tips have been helpful to you. If you’ve got anything to add, I’d love to hear about that too! Thanks so much for reading.

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    1. Go for it, Larry! I think Anne can help you with the best way to do that. Definitely a must for busy dads 🙂

  1. I love this article. Totally helps me over self-doubt-talk and retractions. Pushes me over my excuse humps. RFP (random fist pumpS!) Thanks Shawn. Never ceases.

  2. This was a great article Shawn! Thank you for always being soooo super authentic with your approach and delivery.

  3. I agree that the last tip is the easiest. It reminds me of the advice “Just do it!”, I think from Jerry Rubin or maybe Abby Hoffman in the 60s. Occasionally I do not feel like exercising, in which case I just start, and lo and behold it gets easier and easier as I proceed. Rarely however I do not do as many sets/reps as planned, but at least I get a lot of exercising accomplished.

  4. I watch the Youtube video’s as well as the motivational exercise quotes posted on my bedroom closet sliding doors….I need to post new ones cause i have slacked…you just reminded me to do so with your tip…THANKS

  5. Shawn, as usual, you educate and reflect your passion in aiding others’ well-being. These tips are exactly what I apply when I am working out and I especially do the clapping of hands and jumping around. I make sure that I look good doing it at the gym and not goofy, just in case someone records me and ends up posting that somewhere on the net as I have seen others do with some humorous effects. Thank you for doing what you do and leading by example. Your path is a selfless one. Blessings to you always ♥

  6. I will be turning 50 this year and started working out about 1 1/2 ago. I actually love the time with the music and really enjoy the way I feel after a workout. When I think about not going I just remember my goals and the way a feel when done with a workout and I am ready to go. I always enjoy your insight.

  7. Shawn, Simply Powerful brother, Insightful, Inspirational, & to the point, I’ve been dormant for to ling now in my cocoon, It’s time for the Butterfly to Emerge & Spread My Wings, Let’s Go!

  8. All of your tips are great and I have utilized every single one of them! In focusing on the “exercise partner, tip #3, I think you should maybe get to know their “why card”, tip #5. In knowing what goals they have set for their body and health and things that they have already started in accomplishing their goals would give you an idea if they would be a good exercise partner. You both MUST have the same drive.

  9. So excited to see this up and running. LOVE it!! Beautiful!!

    Shawn- you have the gift of inspiring by giving straight information with honesty, love and relatability.

    My personal favorites on this list:
    –music: nothing says it more to set the tone for anything.
    –trainer: ACCOUNTABILITY; no pushing workouts off another hour or so to get other things done. And feeling AWESOME afterwards!
    –motivational quotes: as you know, I’m a quote girl. What more can I say? 🙂
    –Why card: POWERFUL, POWERFUL stuff!!!!! Every aspect in life is a decision and you MUST have a “why” to drive those decisions.

    Once again, your PASSION and HEART for what you do shine bright!! It is an honor to work with you personally. I am so grateful to you for guiding me not only in changing my outer self, but my inner self as well.
    I am and will always be a fan! 🙂

  10. I have to agree with #11, I try to live my life by a few mottos two of which are “be a better man today than you were yesterday” and “if you’re not getting better…you’re getting worse!” lastly i like to combine number 5 and 8 with a motivational video: this one is one of my favorites!

    thanks for all the help Shawn!
    p.s. I put coconut oil and chia on just about everything now!

  11. Wow!!! and double Wow!!!: Wow!!! Wow!!! What a fantastic new website. Like many fans of The Shawn Stevenson Model, I don’t live in Shawn’s city so until I get Skype, the next best thing to being there for an in-person coaching session is reading the articles on his website and watching his helpful video and listening to his podcasts.

    After reading the “I need motivation to exercise! Here’s 11 Tips for Non-stop Exercise Motivation” article, I feel like Shawn was talking directly to me! Tips 1 and 2 were great but when I got to Tip 3, I had to look around my room to make sure that Shawn wasn’t here. How did he know about a recent conversation I had with my soon to be replaced exercise partner? Shawn described it almost word for word when he wrote: “Girl, I had a long night, let’s just go out for breakfast…” “That’s cool, I wasn’t feeling it today anyway.” Uh…Oh!

    I continue to be impressed with Shawn’s amazing insight and ability to help folks like me understand the mind and body connection. In fact for Tip #8, I think that one of the photos that I am going to use for motivation is the pic of Shawn’s abs on the home page of the new website. I’m a girl so I don’t want to look exactly like Shawn. LOL. But I would love to have great abs.

  12. Admittedly I’ve tried the gym route 3 times and each time was uninspired to remain. Basic repetitions of things just didn’t drive me. But, I am recalling how much fun I’ve had going out for a walk and climbing a tree, or playing in a park crossing the monkey bars and whatever else imagination inspired. That, is where I shall begin again, because I realized my why just now. I use to think I should show myself in every facet of practicing what I preach, so others can get the benefit of observing someone walking his talk. But that’s external; I just realized, that I just want to be able to have the most fun possible with my body!
    Thank you!

  13. Thanks for amazing new website and very powerful information !
    Shawn, you are the Best! Keep up at good work! 🙂

  14. As always, another well written, concise but extremely informative article. The mirror neurons tip fascinates the biologist in me. The why is my biggest motivation. A healthy foundation for my children to follow keeps me motivated.

    Thanks for the wonderful information! Can’t wait to see what else you have in store for future articles!

  15. Thank you Shawn for these great valuable tips. One of my favorite quotes from Tony Robbins, “motion creates emotion.” I love to feel good, & that is why, when I think of how good it feels to be in shape and keep fit, I just get up and “DO IT”. I have told myself that there is no excuse not to work out & that has come by turning my should’s to MUSTS.
    It has been over 2 years and still going strong. Everyday, I look forward to applying all the lessons that you have instilled in me & I continue to grow strong & feel great. Thanks Shawn for being a great teacher & a great inspiration. I love the website & anticipating to see what you have in store for us learners to utilize.

    Your ultimate fan,


    1. Awesome, Lizzy, I felt the sincerity in every word :-). I’ll definitely continue to keep providing powerful information, and YOU continue to transform “shoulds” into MUSTS and creating the amazing life you deserve.

  16. These are very helpful tips. I did not know about motivational exercises but I am going to try it tonight. It is so easy to get off track when we have so many things on our plate (pun intended).

    1. Definitely! And let me know how it works out… just jumping up and down, and pumping your fists… I swear it gets you ready to kick some major booty.

  17. I love the 11 tips!! I became a Beachbody Coach and I will definitely share this info on my FB exercise page & twitter! The one thing that people need more of is motivation to get healthy. I love your new site and as always the awesome info! Thank you!

    1. Fantastic, Amy, thanks. And what we need more of too is great individuals like yourself out helping people make it happen!

  18. I’ve seen that video of Michelle Jenneke before. She explains she does that all the time before races to keep her relaxed so she can perform at her best level. Strange when I first saw it but made sense after hearing her explanation. Good stuff.

  19. Great site & great article!

    Love the social accountability portion and the suggestion to use exercise motivational pictures – Pinterest is great for this!

    Fabulous work Shawn!

  20. The “why card”, the motivational exercises, and social accountability are outstanding tips!
    In Sports Psychology they say more than half the game is the mindset.
    You address this key component… and your beat is FRESH! The energy is high!
    There is nothing quite like this out there that I have seen. You take physical and mental training to the next level of performance with these tips and website!!

    P.S. I like how you give US the “why card” when you explain why the 11 tips are effective.
    Simply AWEsome Shawn.

    1. Wow, what great feedback, Jennifer. I’ve put my heart and soul into my work, and I’m glad that it’s being communicated. Truly, thanks a million!!

  21. Shawn, I LOVE all your advice. . . and you truly come from your heart. You really know how to inspire people and you walk the talk! Thank you so much!

    1. Cindy, you just wrapped me up in one sentence… that’s hard to do, but you did it lol. Seriously, thank you for seeing my spirit and intention, it really means a lot.

  22. You’re back! This is such a straight-forward and true article. I use most of these tips and they have helped me a great deal. After some health issues that I’ve been dealing with the past few years, I finally got my butt in the gym 6 months ago and never looked back. Number 6, 9, and 11 really resonated with me. We tend to psyche ourselves out most of the time with our goals and endeavors; the body and character that follows along with the training and nutrition truly come down to a psychological drive and determination. You’re at war with yourself. Especially in these days when we are not out hunting and gathering, we are depriving ourselves from growing stronger, but with this sort of outlet, we get to experience our true nature. There is truly nothing like it. Me and my fiance make jokes about me and my love for the gym where she now says: “It’s okay that I have a second love and that she approves of’ lol. Once again, thank you brotha for your insight and knowledge.

  23. Love the site, love the article! Its impressive that Shawn is able to articulate his years of knowledge and experience in a way that is insightful while being completely relatable. Whether you’re a fitness buff or just getting started, this list will help. Like Lisa, I appreciated “the Why Card” the most. If you self examine and honestly get to the root of why you choose to go in a particular direction, everything else seems to fall into place. That’s what I love about Shawn’s advice – he doesn’t just stop at giving us health and fitness tips. He always tries to make us dig deeper and drives home the point that reflecting on what’s inside is as valuable, if not more so, than simply focusing on the physical. When our minds and bodies are in sync, we’re unstoppable!

    Thank you!

  24. Great article Shawn,

    The mirror neurons ! Cool!

    Incridible Machines, are bodies.

  25. As usual, great information Shawn! I especially love writing down your WHY. I’ve found that is the only thing that keeps me going-why I want to get healthy and stay that way. On the days I get frustrated because I’m not getting the results I want, I have to go back to my why. I still get hung up because I expect to know all of the answers, but I realize as long as I don’t just quit, I’m headed in the right direction.

  26. Great website and wonderful article. Shawn, the information you share and the motivation that you inspire has helped to change my life. Thank you for all that you do.

  27. I find that I exercise alone the best, so easy to talk myself out of going. However will try some of your ideas. Like the caffeine before exercising for weight loss. I’m going to just show up. Thanks for the website and the comments.

  28. The music one really works. When I get lost in the right music, I forget all about how long I have been on the treadmill

  29. this is great advice for all ages! My husband is a wrestling coach and he has found that videos work great getting Kids motivated. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Shawn, your new website is awesome! And this is a GREAT article! #10 and #11 are my favorite ways to get motivated…drink some Yerba Mate, strap on my Fivefingers and just run out the door!
    I also have a designated area in my home for workouts so any moment I feel like trying a new workout that I have seen online I can just jump right into it! Utilizing the mirror neurons! 🙂

  31. I enjoyed all the points listed, but what will remain with me is the video of Michelle Jennekke bouncing around prior to the countdown and the young lady to her left jumps higher than Michelle prior to getting in the blocks. Even though I will be 64 years old next week (4/25), I think I am going to try this on the tennis court this summer. All of your videos have been such a blessing for me. I purchased the “Magnesium Infusion” and I also purchased the pure chlorella powder that you mentioned as a “superfood.” It smells terrible, but I mix it with the juice I made every morning prior to going to work. It seems to give me more energy. Keep up the good work, Shawn!!!

    1. I loved this article from step #1! This is the second time within a couple weeks that I’d read about “mirror neurons” – must be the time for me to employ this wondrous fact for my benefit. Re step #3: Our dogs make great “exercise partners!” Instead of a “training buddy that you know has a history of not following through,” they have a history of consistent reliability, high enthusiasm, and endearing* ways of reminding us, “It’s time to get out the door!” (all right, truth be told, sometimes even obnoxiously loud & pestering ways)
      Actually, though my walking is pretty consistent, this article is motivating me to get a whole lot more toned & strong!! didn’t expect that 🙂
      I also totally appreciate that most of these steps apply to anything we want in life. Thanks big bouquets, Shawn, for a great, succinct, and inspiring article!!

      1. CJ, GREAT feedback, and awesome tip to add to the table. Your pups are definitely a dependable partner for exercise!

  32. These are good ideas for an all too common problem. I will absolutely put a few into practice.

  33. Shawn, you are truly one of the good guys. Thank you so much for your contribution and efforts. This is a great new site and look forward to visiting it often. May God richly bless you and your family.

  34. Awesome! What actually works for me is YouTube videos and pumped up music. I call it “ratchet music”. You know…music that makes you think you’re in a music video. lol! I recently had to get out of my own way and just make the decision to move. Life is an excuse. There will always be something to get in your way, but you have to make the decision to do it no matter what. Coming from killing myself with excessive cardio in a group fitness class setting, to working out on my own left me completely lost. I had no clue of what to do to get the type of results I want without it taking many months. My workout buddies were afraid of weights and wanted to kill themselves on treadmills/ellipticals, run a million miles a day, or less motivated than myself. No good! To keep from going on and on, I basically had to drop the idea that getting fit had to be some complex, boring, 12 week workout plan and just move. YouTube helped with that. I now pick up my speed rope, crank up the music, jump rope in intervals and include bodyweight exercises.

  35. Shawn, You are always an inspiration! Thanks so much for the tips — and great looking website. Congratulations.

  36. Great article. I decided to start running with the goal of running a 5k. I did put it on social media! I always listen to something when I’m training~pump up music or some positivity/motivational talk.

  37. SHAWN is BACK… love the article, all of these are great tips. About 2 yeas ago I moved away from my good friends that also doubled as my workout partners. Being alone in a new area had me low on motivation to stay fit so we started a group text/chat line. It’s been such a reward to post my progress and read about theirs also.

    Shawn the best thing about your articles and videos is that you go beyond the basic advise/how-to information and give the SCIENCE. The details about what happens in our bodies and mind is what I related to most and helps positively impact my decisions.

    1. GREAT feedback, Jennifer! Thanks for that, and thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂

  38. Great advice! I never really thought about the why card (I mean really thought about it) Now that I can make a list and consciously think about it, I feel I can reach my goals faster.
    Thank you for all the great advice
    P.s I also look forward to making home made fridge magnets with motivational quotes and images.

  39. As usual Shawn’s advice is clear, concise and no sugar coating. Solid advice to get success. It is wonderful that he continues to share his incredible knowledge of wellness and fitness with those who may not have studied it at length…and yes he has studies at length. There are a couple suggestions here I have seen before and have not implemented recently and will be getting them done! Absolutely LOVE the Video with Michelle Jennekke on sooo many levels. Do what you love, and have fun doing it, and having the right mind set. She had already won the race at the starting line! Thanks Shawn, keep shining!

  40. This article is so full of rich information! I have fallen prey to working out with a friend and found it way to easy to skip the workout for a glass of wine. If I ‘m not feeling like going to the gym I will make a deal with myself…put on my gym clothes and drive to the gym, if I don’t feel like staying I can drive home. Not only do I end up staying but for some reason I usually work out harder. You have become my newest voice for all things healthy. I can’t wait to get started with the program, Shawn!!

    1. Thanks for the cool new website. I have been working hard to get more motivated for routine exercise. So thanks for all the great advice. I can wait to start incorporating it into my life!

      1. You’re more than welcome, Michael. And stayed tuned because I’ve got more great tips and tactics coming up soon!


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