The Lamest Excuses for Not Exercising, and How to Overcome Them

Fitness experts weigh in on how to battle excuses for avoiding exercise

It doesn’t matter if you’re a dedicated gym junkie or you just began new exercise routine for the first time, at one point or another you’ve likely used some kind of extraneous excuse to skip a workout.

And that’s totally OK. After all, you’re only human. But if over time you’re noticing that your uncanny ability to whip up (seemingly) brilliant reasons for why you just simply cannot work out might be conflicting with your desire to get in shape, you may need to take a closer look at what’s really going on.

“Excuses are the mind’s way to try to justify not doing something that you’ve said you want to do,” says Julie Stiles, a California-based Health and Transformation Coach and Certified Health Counselor. “It’s an internal conflict—one voice or part of you wants to (or knows you should) exercise, another voice or part of you wants to not do it. Normally we try to get through these kinds of conflicts using some form of willpower, which often does not work.”

But if willpower doesn’t work, than what does? When thoughts like “I’m too busy” or “I’d really rather watch Mad Men on Netflix” pop into your mind, how do overcome them?

Well, according to Stiles, two important factors include setting goals and turning exercise into a habit.

“Get in touch with the deeper motivation to exercise,” she explains. “What’s at the deepest root of your goal?”

And as far as creating a consistent exercise habit goes, she offers the following advice.

“Relying on our thinking to follow through on a goal can be like a minefield. We never know what our mind will throw up next to distract us from what we said we wanted,” says Stiles. “Figure out what time your workout will best fit your schedule. If you want to run first thing in the morning, then put your shoes and running shorts right next to the bed. Incorporate exercise into your day so that you have no choice about it. Find a way to make it a habit and excuses will simply be like gnats that you brush aside on the way to your goal.”

Of course, swatting excuses away like gnats is much easier said than done, sometimes even after you’ve established a regular workout routine.

We all have a handful of different excuses that we love to use, but luckily there are also several strategies you can use to conquer them.

We’ve rounded up a list of the most common (and if we’re all honest, the lamest) excuses for not exercising, and we called on the help of several fitness experts to find out how to crush them.

Here’s what they had to say.

I ate healthy today.

Sometimes the mind tries to trick us into rewarding ourselves prematurely. When you try to use the fact that you ate well for the day to rationalize skipping out on the gym, remind yourself that a nutritious diet is only half of the equation. “Eating healthy is great, but only part of the battle,” says Scott Malin, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and creator of the H.E.M. Ankle Rehab System. “Eating healthy is a critical factor in losing fat, but you need to work out to build lean muscle. And building lean muscle significantly increases your metabolism, which will help you burn even more fat.”

I’ll get back to the gym tomorrow.

Most fitness experts agree, this excuse is OK to use every now and then. After all, you do need to rest and it’s OK to give your body a day off if you feel overworked. But when this excuse is used over and over again, that’s when it becomes a problem. “It's OK to workout every other day, but you need to find a system and routine that works for you,” says Jillian Lama, a representative for Mind + Mattera company that creates nutrition and lifestyle programs for people who want to improve their mental and physical health. She suggests signing up for personal training or group exercise classes to help ensure that you’ll stick to a regular workout routine. 

Click here to see more lame exercise excuses, and how to overcome them.