Excuses are so prevalent and affect not only fitness progression and physique transformations, but they are so ingrained in modern society that it is worth taking a step back and breaking some of them down to ensure you catch yourself the next time you start spitting them out.
These are nothing new. You will have heard them a million times and I guarantee you have used or continue to use some of them (I know I have). But by going through the list below, hopefully you will be able to see them more clearly and filter through the B.S. the next time you feel yourself using one of them.
Getting your head in the right place is half the battle when looking to overcome sticking points in either starting on making progress on your goals.
To help you get started, I’ve created a downloadable PDF outlining the Mental & Emotional Foundations that should be in place in order to be successful in your health and fitness endeavours.
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1. I don’t have time
Really? This has to be one of the most commonly used excuses, especially for not going to the gym or doing any training. Do you watch TV? No matter how little time you spend in front of the TV, that is time you are not achieving anything and if you genuinely want to make a difference you’ll prioritize your time more and get it done. It’s fine to take time to relax when you need it. Just don’t complain that you are not getting anywhere. You either want it or you don’t and if you really want to achieve something you’ll have to make the odd sacrifice. So non beneficial activities, no matter how enjoyable, should be given a lower level of priority. You will make time for things you really want to do, so if you don’t have time to do something you probably don’t want it enough.
2. I can’t afford it
You can’t afford to exercise? Drop to the floor and power out some press ups, stand back up and bust out some squats. Grab a travel bag and fill it with clothes, grab the handles and sling it over your shoulders to add weight. If money is genuinely an issue, there is always something you can do, it is not an excuse to do nothing.
3. It’s too expensive
This is similar to the I can’t afford it excuse, but more associated with joining a gym, hiring a Personal Trainer, buying a fitness book or piece of equipment. If you think these are going to help you improve your physique and fitness levels and those improvements are important to you, then you can probably cover the expense.
Going back to the TV, do you have sports channels? Movie channels? Do you go out on a Friday night? Do you buy junk food?
I’ll say it again, change requires sacrifice. There is always a cost to anything worth having, whether that cost be in time, discipline, sweat and discomfort, inconvenience or money, there is always a cost. Paying for something with cash is usually a way of making one of the other payments easier. Working with an expert will usually save you time and wasted effort in getting your results. So again, if these are your priorities, review the things that you spend money on and remove or limit those that do not help you achieve your priorities. A huge percentage of the population will happily spend £100+ on a regular Friday night out, but those same people would be reluctant to pay the same for a week of sessions with a trainer or even paying less than that for a full month of a gym membership.
4. I want…
Everybody wants something, but the difference between those who continue to want and those who get is action.
Mostly this gets used by those who want others to do the work for them. If you want something stop talking about it and go do something about it.
“Errrrbody wanna be a bodybuilder….But don’t nobody want to lift heavy aaaazzz weights!”
Ronnie Coleman, former Mr. Olympia champion
5. I’ll need to…
This is just more talk. If you need to do something, do it, don’t waste time talking about it. This is a really easy trap to fall into and I’m as guilty as anyone. But catch yourself saying it and do something proactive about it.
“I’ll need to get back to the gym” is not helping anyone, it is just a way of justifying that you haven’t yet to others and making them aware that you know you should have made it there already. So don’t say you’ll need to… just get it done.
6. I need…
You don’t need anything other than Oxygen, heat and water. Everything else is optional.
But if you feel so strongly about something that you want it enough to be prefixing it with the fact that you ‘need’ it then, get moving and do something about it or stop kidding yourself.
“I need to lose 10lbs” – No! You WANT to lose 10lbs!
Make that want something more emotionally motivating. Figure out why you want to lose the 10lbs. Then start turning it into positive action “I am going to get that figure, by this time, this is why, therefore, this is how I will feel when I achieve it and this is how I’m going to do it…”
7. I should…
This is just another way of saying “I haven’t yet”, what you should do is of no concern, what you are doing is.
If you ‘should’ be doing something, then do it.
8. I’ll do it when…
If it was that important you’d do it now.
The chances are, if you are waiting for something to happen before you act. It will either never happen or you will find something else to wait for when it does.
Rather than sitting on your ass waiting for something to happen, go and make it happen.
“I’ll join a gym when we get this project finished at work” – There will be another project on after this one or it’ll be something else. Your health is important, prioritise it. Stop putting it off. You are either going to join a gym or you’re not. If you are, do it now!
9. I’ve got too much on at work.
First off READ THIS ARTICLE then ask yourself, why do you work?
If you don’t have your health, what will happen to your work?
Seriously, work is important, but it should not be taking over your life. Work to live, don’t live to work. No one is forcing you to work those extra hours. You may say, it’s implied or it is expected of you, but in the end, you decide what you do with your life.
If that’s your choice, then great, but don’t complain when you look and feel awful as a result.
10. I hate doing that
This is usually a good indicator of it being something you should be doing. Usually this phrase could be easily changed to ‘I’m not very good at that’ and you don’t like doing it for that reason. Have a look at this article on ‘turning hate on it’s head’, then the next time you catch yourself saying you hate doing something, do it anyway and keep doing it until you love doing it. Then decide if you ‘should’ do it or not.
11. I have to do (this), before I can do (that)
This is a tricky one as some things are progressive and should be done sequentially.
But, those things are related and one is the foundation of the other.
For example, you may want to work on your basic strength before you start to work on the minutia of muscle shaping. But if the end goal is a physical shape, then that is what you are working towards and you have begun by working on the strength aspect.
However, “I have to buy the right shoes and shorts before I start training” or “I have to lose 10lbs before I join a gym” (Seriously! I can’t believe how often that still gets used) are just excuses to put something off you don’t feel confident about. You want to achieve, get going and ditch this excuse.
12. I’m such a loser
This one really irks me.
It’s one that seems even more poignant these days since ‘The Biggest Loser’ hit our screens.
You are not a loser regardless of the circumstances. If you fail at something, pick yourself up and either learn from it and do better next time or strive to improve. Either way, you are where you are, accept that and move forward. And if you are moving forward and improving you are far from a loser, you are an inspiration and should be proud of yourself.
The only opinion of you that truly matters is yours, so be proud of who you are and continually strive to be better.
13. I’m a failure
As with the ‘I’m such a loser’ comment above, you do not fail unless you choose to.
You only fail if you give up.
If you get it wrong, you learn, if you don’t manage a lift, a time or a task of any kind, you work out how to improve and continue to move towards it.
The only way you can fail is if you stop trying.
So if you are a failure you are so by choice. Choose not to be.
14. I don’t have the right equipment
This is the same as ‘I need to do this before I can do that’. You do not need any equipment to start!
If you want to do a workout, you have body weight exercises, you can fill a bag with clothes and lift that as a weight.
Maybe the thing you want to do is become a great cyclist, but you need a bike to start? But you could work on your general fitness levels, your leg power, strengthening your tendons and ligaments, improving your lung capacity and chances are you know someone with a bike you could borrow until you can get your own.
You can always do something regardless of the equipment at your disposal. And this is where the cost of a gym membership shows its value. You get the use of thousands of pounds worth of equipment for a fee that is usually no more than a couple of pounds per day. So if you want the right equipment, get to a good gym.
15. My gym is so busy I can’t get a proper workout
Then change gyms!
Seriously! You pay a membership in order to be able to workout, if you genuinely can’t workout properly, then you are paying for nothing. If there is one gym in an area, there are likely to be hundreds more in the vicinity. Your criteria should not be based on which one is closest, which one is cheapest or which one has the fanciest cafe. You go to a gym to train, so make sure you can train to a level that will get you what you want from it.
16. I don’t feel motivated
Then you don’t want it enough. Find something you do want. Find your true Emotiviation and this excuse should never be an issue.
17. I just had a little…
This excuse only ever comes up when it is something you know you shouldn’t have had ‘a little’ of.
Who are you trying to justify it to?
Mostly this comes up because you want someone else to tell you it’s OK. That ‘everything in moderation’ is fine. Well either you believe that or you don’t. If you believe it, there should be no need to say anything. If you don’t, then remind yourself of that the next time you reach for that ‘half slice of cake’ or that ‘just one glass of wine’ and stop justifying with this excuse.
18. I’m too old
You are not too old until you are dead.
Michelangelo designed St. Peter’s Cupola when he was 83. Benjamin Franklin was past 80 when he helped draft the constitution. And if you think these are not fitness related, so have no bearing, Fauja Singh took up running at the age of 80 and completed his most recent marathon at the age of 100. And Ernestine Shepherd is a 74 year old bodybuilder who considers herself in the best shape of her life. So if you are using your age as an excuse you may want to re-think that.
19. That won’t work for me
Have you tried it or are you basing that on a feeling or something you’ve read?
If you are looking beyond what you are doing, then clearly what you are currently doing isn’t working as you’d like, so if you look for advice and advice is given, take it, try it and then decide if it works for you or not.
20. I don’t know what to do
Something! You can tweak as you go, but for now, just do something.
And then, if you want to know more, post a question on our Facebook page and you will get an answer either on the Facebook page, here or on our YouTube Channel (whichever is most appropriate).
21. I don’t know where to start
As above – Just Start!
22. I’ve tried everything
Yeah right! Trust me, you have not tried everything.
If you had tried everything you would have found the thing that works.
Most often people that have tried ‘everything’ have either tried every gimmick and quick fix option, but are unwilling to do anything tried and proven because it is too hard. Or they have tried lots of things for a short time and then given up before they have a chance to show any kind of result.
23. What’s the point?
You tell me? What was your reason for wanting to do something in the first place?
This one generally gets reeled out when the going gets tough or after a week of hard effort with no visible results.
If you are willing to give up that easily, then you didn’t really want it in the first place. The point is whatever you make it.
Is there any point in giving up? Is there a reason you wanted to achieve what you set out to achieve? If so, that’s the point. Don’t give up.
24. I’ll never…
Yes, you are probably right.
If you resign yourself to defeat you will make it so. This doesn’t mean you can’t, just you have chosen not to.
25. I’ll start next week
Why? What’s so special about next week? Why not tomorrow? Why not today?
Every day you put something off is just another day behind you are that needs to be caught up.
Sorry you’ll have to repeat that. I couldn’t hear you over this guy being awesome!
26. I’ve got an injury
If you’ve got the energy and facility to voice that, chances are you have the ability to do something. It may not be what you intended or planned to do, but that’s no reason to do nothing.
If your injury in in your lower body, do an upper body workout, if it’s in your arm, work your legs.
Even if your entire body is in a cast and you can only move your forearms, you could still be doing wrist curls and working on your grip strength. If you planned to do something, then do something!
27. I have poor genetics
Then you’ll just need to work harder. Some people are born genetically gifted and others are born with poor genetics. That’s the hand you are dealt, but what you do with it is up to you. If you have poor genetics and you want to get in great shape, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, it just means you might have to work 3 times harder or be 3 times stricter than the genetically gifted person.
Your genetics are just a factor, but should never be an excuse to give up or fail to achieve.
28. I’m too tired
Again, this is a tricky one as genuine fatigue could be a valid reason for holding back.
But often this one could be substituted with ‘I can’t be bothered’ and there is a big difference.
If you have set the time aside to do something active, like training, then give it a go. Don’t go in and try for a PB on your Squat or Load up for a heavy Olympic Lift. Start light and explosive and find out whether you are genuinely run down or just being lazy.
29. I’m too stressed
This can fall into the same category as being too tired.
Work stress, family stress, relationship stress or lack of sleep, which is a stress on your nervous system, can indeed have a heavy detrimental effect on your training and should not be pushed through just because.
But, the answer is the same as being too tired – start light, be explosive, listen to your body for feedback. Everyone gets stressed from time to time, but if it is happening frequently, then you have to deal with that. Either get rid of the cause or learn to manage it better.
This is one I’m very guilty of and have to keep an eye out for. That word creates doubt and doubt halts action. No ifs, buts or maybes – No Excuses!
31. I’m too self conscious
Making improvements is all about getting out of your comfort zone. Whether it is pushing yourself further with your training or just pushing yourself to do something you don’t find easy or comfortable.
If you are self conscious, all the more reason to be working on improving.
Other people don’t care so much about what you look like but rather what you are doing. Make your actions speak for you and just know you are making improvements and being your Best Self and if anyone has an issue with that, that’s their problem, not yours.
32. I have to put my family first
This one sounds like a hard one to argue with. Of course your family has to take priority for the most part, but similarly, you will be a priority to them.
Your health should be important to them and without that you may be either useless to them or, in severe cases, a burden.
But even if we are simply talking physical appearance or fitness levels, which are correlated to health anyway, how you feel about yourself is a factor in your overall wellness and if it is important to you, then explaining that to your family should result in their support. Perhaps not in all cases, but if your family is not willing to support you when your reasoning is putting them first, then that’s an issue that is beyond the scope of this article.
33. I don’t want to get bulky
But that’s no reason not to lift heavy weights.
No one ever got bulky over night. It takes months to add any noticeable size from muscle and years to add a mass that could be considered bulky. This excuse is usually one that women use because they are worried they will turn into masculine looking bodybuilders. But that just doesn’t happen naturally to women as they don’t have enough testosterone (naturally) and even if they did, it takes men a severe amount of work to add significant levels of muscle and the ones that are busting their asses in an attempt to do that would find it pretty insulting to hear you say you don’t want to lift heavy for this reason. If it was that easy they wouldn’t be working so hard in the gym and piling up their plates at meal time day in day out in an attempt to add 5lbs of muscle over the course of a year.
So put down that excuse and pick up that heavy ass weight!
34. You have to have some enjoyment
This often gets thrown out on the back of advice of how harmful a certain food type (or drink) is for physique or fitness development.
If you have to eat crap or drink to enjoy yourself then I’d suggest there are more issues with your life that need to be looked at.
Food is a fuel. It doesn’t have to be bland, but if a food or a drink is necessary for your happiness then that is more of a psychological issue. Especially if you are claiming that the change you are looking for from your training and diet is important to you. You need to work out what your priority is, how important the change is to you, what your Emotivation is for your change and if you are then still reaming this one off, then you may have dependency issues that you are not quite willing to admit.
35. I’ll work it off at the gym later
This falls into a similar category to the excuse above.
You may work off the equivalent calories, but the nutritional and hormonal issues associated from eating badly can not be undone by a workout. You can’t out train a bad diet. So if you choose to eat crap, go for it, but don’t use going to the gym later as reasoning for it.
36. I’ll never look like that
Probably not, especially if this is your start point.
But you don’t have to look like someone else.
What you can do is look the best you possibly can for you. And once you start down that path you will probably find your idolised physique is no longer on your radar. Or if it is, that you are able to get much closer to it than you first thought.
Use others as inspiration, not as an excuse to quit.
37. It’s too far
If it’s important to your goals then it’s not too far, you are just too lazy to make the journey or the goal is not important enough to you. Either way, stop spouting this excuse.
If the best gym or trainer for you to reach your goals is 20 miles away, but there is a gym or trainer 5mins up the road that is not as good, do you choose the close one or the one that will work?
If it’s the former, then you are wasting your time and your money with a false economy.
I find this funny that the same people who won’t travel an additional 10mins to use a gym that is clearly better for them, will then book concert tickets at £100+ and then travel 300miles for a 90min show or sit in front of the TV for 3hrs per night feeding their face with pizza, crisps and chocolate, when that time could have been used making some amazing progress that would benefit every aspect of their lives.
38. My friend said…
If you listen to everyone you’ll just end up a confused mess.
Everyone is an armchair expert.
There is a school of thought that you can only follow one master. To an extent that is true. If you have committed to one Coach or Adviser and then go looking for other pieces of advice, then you haven’t put enough faith in that person and the relationship will never work.
Then there is the Bruce Lee approach of – take in everything, discard what doesn’t work, keep the rest.
Both approaches make sense and it really depends on how in tune with your own development or how analytical you are. But there are many paths to success and if your ‘friend’ is telling you what you are doing is wrong or you should be doing it differently, in most cases you are simply doing something they are not. That doesn’t make it wrong. Just keep to your plan and make your own decisions. Don’t get distracted.
39. I’m happy as I am
If that is true then fantastic!
But then why has this even come up?
Either it is because you are not actually happy but you are trying to convince yourself you are because you can’t be bothered doing anything about it; or, others are seeing potential in you that you have not seen in yourself, but you can’t be bothered in putting in the effort to realise that potential.
I’d love it if everyone were truly happy with themselves. But, if they truly were, then this phrase would never see the light of day.
40. You don’t know what it’s like
Maybe I don’t, but what difference does that make?
Everyone thinks their situation (when it’s bad) is worse than anyone else has ever experienced.
Chances are the people you think ‘don’t know what it’s like’ know exactly what it’s like. They have been there, but they have just dealt with it without making a huge drama of it.
This is most commonly used as a get out clause to make someone else ‘allow’ you to quit or fail.
Understand it is just an excuse and whatever the situation, it is what it is and you just need to deal with it to the best of your ability regardless of what anyone else thinks.
41. It’s not my fault
Yes it is!
Do something about it.
Even if something is down to someone else, it is what it is! You can’t control it or do anything about it. Deal with what you can control. Your progress is down to you, no one and nothing else.
So there you have it! 41 Excuses to watch out for and look to eliminate from your life in order to make some real progression with your physical and fitness developments. They will also apply to other aspects of your life no doubt, so read and re-read.
Holding You Back by Mark Tiffney
Which of these do you use regularly?
Let me know in the comments below.
It’s like any other issue – if you admit you have a problem, that’s the first step to banishing it.
Are there any that I’ve missed? Again comment below.
Remember, this is about community and sharing for the benefit of all, so be sure to get involved. (or are you going to make an excuse for not doing that too?).
And don’t forget to ‘like’ ‘tweet’ & ‘share’ the article and help build this community and improve the content and feedback.
The first step to getting over obstacles is to get your head in the right place.
As such, I’ve put together a PDF on Emotional & Mental Foundations and how to get them in place, free to download right now.