How Do Training Ruts Happen?

Training ruts happen for all sorts of reasons. Lack of motivation, lack of time to train, feeling like no progress is happening, physical issues like sustaining an injury… the list goes on.

You may have been here before. Training is an enjoyable part of your day-to-day life and something you make regular time for. Then something happens. Maybe a holiday or festive period, feeling overwhelmed with work commitments, feeling stressed, feeling like you’re getting nowhere despite training hard, a family life event, life feeling just too busy – whatever your reason.

So, you start missing the odd session, or opt to take a short break. What starts off as a period of rest and recovery soon turns into an extended time away from exercise. Before you know it weeks roll into months and taking that first step back seems really, really difficult.

But Why Is It SO Hard to Get Back into a Routine?

Well, there is science behind it!

We generally form habits because we get some sort of reward from repeating that behaviour.

Example: We go to the gym. Endorphins are released. We feel good. We notice positive physical and mental changes. We repeat the behaviour.

Over time this becomes a rewarding cycle and a healthy habit is formed. Going to train doesn’t require mental effort or persuasion. But once the reward from this habit has been broken – e.g we’ve lost ‘the buzz’, we lose the effortlessness that once came with training.

So, we need to form new healthy habits for training – and that can be tough!

While the old saying ‘It takes 21 days to form a habit’ has now pretty much been de-bunked, new research has found that when people perform their ‘desired behaviour’ consistently for around 3 months, that the ‘habit formation increases substantially’.

Basically meaning that to get back to your training feeling like an ‘easy’ part of your routine again you will need to put in some hard graft for around 12 weeks.

Now, 12 weeks might sound pretty overwhelming and easier said than done probably. The good news is that the action doesn’t need to be performed every single day, and the study showed that missing the odd day didn’t have a negative impact if overall consistency was maintained.

So How Do We Make The First Step?

Hook Onto A ‘Window of Opportunity’.

Research has shown that we are actually more likely to make a change in a habit if we can hook into another ‘change’ or shift in our lives.

“I’ll start on Monday” can sometimes just seem like a put off – like we’re just trying to buy a bit more time before we begin something. BUT hooking onto a perceived physical change – even something small like the start of a week to begin a change can actually help us separate old and new.

This can become even stronger if we hook onto bigger events. For example, moving house, starting a new job or relationship, or big live events like becoming pregnant or having a baby. That’s because something significant has changed in our normal routine so it’s easier to add in new ones at the same time.

Make Health Habitual

While not everyone’s routine allows for doing something at the exact same time everyday, the research shows that we are more likely to form a strong habit if we ‘make health habitual’.

This means performing a repetitive action at the same time or in the same location.

Example: Pick the 8am class and commit to going at that time following a similar morning routine of: Wake up. Dress in gym clothes. Drink a glass of water. Eat breakfast. Walk out the door.

Over time this becomes easier and easier until it is just part of the routine.


Change inspires change. Sometimes one of the reasons we got into the rut in the first place is a loss of love for the exercise or training we were doing. So, make it fun! Switch it up and start just getting those endorphins from physical movement again.

Always fancied trying out a HYROX? Never dared go outdoor swimming? Fancy a go at climbing or bouldering? Yoga? Pole-Fit?

Often you just need SOMETHING to kick-start getting you back into movement and finding time for you again and you can find your way back to the exercise you love.

Don’t Get In Your Own Way

It’s time to work out how to sustain this new routine. Even though you’re probably feeling good about starting, until it becomes a positive habit in your life once again it’s going to take conscious effort from you to keep making the daily decision to do it.

Research suggests around 3 months of doing something consistently to form habits – so setting a new goal can be a fun way of challenging yourself and holding yourself accountable to the continued training.

Set yourself a short term goal as well as a long term goal so that you are getting gratification from your smaller achievements along the way to a really challenging and exciting goal.

A good example could be:

Short term goal – train 3 x this first week. Or, go for a walk outside for at least 30 minutes every day this week.

Long term goal – get my first double under, get a strict pull up, jump two footed onto the box, hit X weight on X movement, sign up to my first competition.

Whatever it is you’ve always thought  ‘I’d love to be able to do that’ – challenge yourself to commit to doing it today. Writing goals down in your BoxMate app is a great way of putting it down so you can’t forget about it.

Track and look back at your progress

When we’ve been in the game a long time that really BIG progress we make at the start naturally starts to slow down.

Whether it was weight loss you were enjoying at the beginning, or getting significantly stronger than you’d ever been and hitting PRs consistently, or mastering brand new movements every week etc. When we’ve been training a long time and have got better, naturally those next steps can be harder to make.

Maybe you haven’t hit a PB in a while or have been working hard but still haven’t been able to master a technical movement. It doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress – it’s just that progress looks different now.

If you aren’t tracking it it might feel as though you’re getting no better at all but if you look back at where you started can be hugely motivating – small wins and gains are where the progress is happening. Jump on your BoxMate library and check out your progress!

Remind yourself of your why

Last but not least keep reminding yourself of your why. Whether that is for health reasons, to give you energy to enjoy life, or enjoy time playing with your family, to release the stresses of life, to connect with friends, to have fun, to feel better about yourself physically and mentally. When you have a firm grasp on the reason why you train it can be easier to find the motivation to get back to it.

You are not alone in getting stuck in a rut or having an extended break away from training. You will find your way back to it and we know you will not regret taking that step once you’re feeling fit, healthy and energised once again!