What To Do When You No Longer Enjoy Training

When I say “you no longer enjoy training” I’m not talking about not being motivated to train for one or two of your training sessions this week. That’s completely normal. 

I’m also not implying that you have to be excited for every single training session. Training is hard. It’s normal to have to begrudgingly drag yourself to the gym every once in awhile knowing you’re going to be willingly throwing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

This is bigger than that. More like a mental roadblock.

Train for a long enough period of time and you’re likely to run into this unexpected wall. You genuinely no longer enjoy training. For some they may love their training so much right now and it’s such a big part of their life that they can’t even imagine this happening…however…train for a long enough and I can almost guarantee you are going to cross this bridge.

The good news is this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. Much like lacking motivation, I think this is a normal part of the lifting journey. That being said it can be disheartening to lose interest in something you used to enjoy so much so I’d like to offer some strategies to help navigate through a situation like this, and hopefully get you back on track to enjoying your training again.

1. Pivot Week/ Pivot Block

The very first thing I’d always suggest if you are no longer enjoying going to the gym is a pivot week or even an entire pivot block. This strategy is specific to lifters but could be employed for other athletes using the same basic principles.

A pivot week or block is very simply programming a training period where you completely flip the script on your normal training. You’ll pick weird movements you’ve never done before (go wild here: Zerchers, Jefferson deadlifts, half ROM movements, power curls, anything you can find that sparks your interest and that you NEVER do). No switching from normal deadlifts to pause deadlifts is not enough. Get weird with it.

Additionally, set up set and rep schemes you never try. Ever tried sets of 7? How about sets of 13? If you’re a powerlifter try higher volume, if you’re a bodybuilder try lower volume higher intensity. Always been a strongman but interested in CrossFit? Go for it. The whole point here is to put you so far out of your “normal” zone that you are no longer worrying about your numbers, you have no concept of how much you “should” be lifting, and you can just let loose and have fun.

This can be especially useful for athletes like powerlifters who are used to a strict diet of only squat, bench, and deadlift. Taking a month to just sit back and enjoy lifting again can be exactly what they need to come back fresh and start crushing their normal programming again.

2. Try Something You’ve Never Done

If you’ve tried a pivot block and it didn’t work out for you…maybe it’s time to change things up even more.

Try something outside of the realm of lifting.

Sometimes we grasp to the “identities” we make for ourselves for so long that it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. If you’ve been lifting for over a decade you probably don’t even consider all the other options for physical activity there are out there.

Believe it or not there is more to this world than just lifting (Shocking I know). You can switch to running, swimming, triathlons, yoga, mountain biking, team sports, climbing, hiking/rucking, kayaking, snow sports, dancing, combat sports, gymnastics, calisthenics, the list is truly endless.

Each of these disciplines offers the same depth as lifting in terms of techniques/skills to learn, the gear used and it’s maintenance, as well as the overall culture just like lifting has it’s own culture.

Spend enough time diving into and learning something new and it’s very likely you’ll see your interest in your old training start to spike as time goes on. Now you not only got yourself interested in training again, but also picked up a new skill and developed yourself further as a human as well.

On the flipside…maybe you don’t go back to your original training. Maybe you end up liking your new activity even better than your original training and you don’t look back. That’s fine too.

Just make sure whatever you end up picking truly sparks your interest. This isn’t going to work very well if you just pick something for the sake of picking it.

3. Set A Big Goal

Throw yourself in the deep end. 

Sometimes you just need something to reignite your interests again. If you’ve just been going through the motions with your training even if you are consistently seeing progress over the years a general lack of “purpose” can eventually lead you to question why you are doing all this in the first place. So give yourself that purpose.

This could be signing up for a big competition. Taking on a fitness challenge that will push you to your very limits. Or like we discussed above signing up for something completely unrelated to lifting.

There are two rules you should follow when setting this goal however…

1. It should be BIG. Something that truly brings you out of your comfort zone, demands more of you than you’ve given up to this point, makes you question if you can actually complete it, etc.

2. It should be time sensitive. This is why signing up for competitions can be so useful. It gives you a very concrete date for when you have to complete your goal by. The time sensitive nature of the goal creates urgency for you to actually complete it.

Big goals can be just enough to get you out of training ruts, establish new motivations for training, or at the very least give you solid “purpose” as to why you are coming into the gym each day.

4. Take a Week Off…

What!? You never take a week off. #stayhard #grinddontstop #worktilurdead 

Listen, I get it. You shouldn’t be looking to take weeks off from training “just because“. In fact, it’s a terrible habit to start in the first place. One week slowly becomes two weeks, two weeks becomes a month, and a month becomes you just don’t train anymore.

For the vast majority of situations I am very pro…go train…whether you want to or you don’t. 

But if you’ve hit a true roadblock in your life where you don’t know why you’re going to the gym anymore, you aren’t getting any sort of joy or accomplishment out of it, and you’re simply lost with the situation as a whole taking a week off could be a very valid option.

Take the time to reevaluate what truly matters to you, what your motivations to train were when you first started and why that may no longer be the case now. This can also be useful time for you to get ready to try any of the other above strategies. If you’re going to try a new activity go get some of the basic gear you’ll need for it, if you’re going to try a pivot block…start writing it out.

Additionally, this extra time can be useful to work on other areas in your life. A lot of times problems with training are just problems we are carrying over from our normal day to day life. Work on any projects you’d like to see completed, set up time to go visit family and friends, take a week to access areas of stress and your life and what you can do to start the process to resolve that stress.

(Check out this video for more on PIVOT BLOCKS and How To Enjoy Training!!)

Matt Molloy

Matt Molloy

I'm a graduate the University of Pittsburgh with a major in Exercise Science. I’m a local guy (North Penn) and athletics has dominated my life. I've led teams in basketball, baseball, soccer, golf and my passion, long distance running. I've been strength training for 6 years with a focus in power-lifting but have recently stretched to strongman since joining the pride here at the Den. When I’m not in the gym I enjoy, spending time with my friends, music, and relaxing and playing some video games.