“FIVE MORE MINUTES,” you whisper to yourself as you hit the snooze button and roll over. You were supposed to be at the gym 10 minutes ago, pounding through a set of biceps curls. Instead, you’re still in bed, and this is far from the first time you’ve allocated yourself “five” more minutes this morning.

It’s perfectly normal for your motivation to ebb and flow. That’s not even considering how difficult it can be to stay on top of your fitness routine in the fast-paced world we live in today, with work, social, and personal responsibilities. There will be days when the energy left in your tank for gym sessions isn’t quite enough, after everything else in your already busy schedule.

We’ve all been there. There are some days that you’re so stoked to go to the gym you end up spending hours there. Other days, it feels like there is not even your best gym buddy or the perfect workout playlist that could prompt your brain to lug your lethargic body up and off the couch. Occasionally, this tiredness is a sign that you need to accept defeat and take a rest day. It might mean you’re struggling with something deeper. Or, it may just be plain old-fashioned apathy.

Exercise is a scientifically-proven mood booster, though. Small bouts of exercise have been shown to significantly increase dopamine levels. Dopamine is part of our bodies reward system, and is known as a “feel good” hormone because it elicits feelings of pleasure.

The times you’re feeling low just may be the days you need to hit the gym the most. That’s why it’s important to keep some motivation-enhancing trick up your sleeves for those moments where you’re really just not feeling it. If the go-to caffeine and hype music just aren’t doing it for you, maybe some words of wisdom from the greats will.

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“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.”

“There is no magic pill”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time Mr. Olympia

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“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”

Kobe Bryant, 5-time NBA Championship winner

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“In training, you listen to your body. In competition, you tell your body to shut up.”

– Rich Froning Jr., 4-time CrossFit Games champion

“You shall gain, but you shall pay with sweat, blood, and vomit.”

– Pavel Tsatsouline, chairman of StrongFirst and father of the modern kettlebell movement

“There’s no secret formula. I lift heavy, work hard, and aim to be the best.”

– Ronnie Coleman, eight-time Mr. Olympia

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“If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.”

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, actor and pro wrestler

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“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”

– Thomas Jefferson

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“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

– Jim Ryun, Olympic silver medalist and politician

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“A champion is someone who gets up when they can’t.”

– Jack Dempsey, American boxer and heavyweight champion

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

– Fred DeVito, CoreBarreFit co-founder

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“Keep working even when no one is watching.”

– Alex Morgan, soccer player and World Cup winner

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“There comes a certain point in life when you have to stop blaming other people for how you feel or the misfortunes in your life. You can’t go through life obsessing about what might have been.”

– Hugh Jackman, actor and member of the 1000-pound lift club

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“Success is usually the culmination of controlling failure.”

– Sylvester Stallone, actor

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“Don’t be afraid of failure. This is the way to succeed.”

– LeBron James, four-time NBA Championship winner

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“I will sacrifice whatever is necessary to be the best.”

– J.J. Watt, retired football legend

“Most people give up right before the big break comes — don’t let that person be you.”

– Michael Boyle, performance coach to the 2013 World Series Championship Red Sox and owner of Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning

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“I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve — not only to please the coach and the fans — but also to feel satisfied with myself.”

– Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer legend

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“You’re going to have to let it hurt. Let it suck. The harder you work, the better you will look. Your appearance isn’t parallel to how heavy you lift, it’s parallel to how hard you work.”

– Joe Manganiello, actor and one of the 100 Fittest Men of All Time

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“You have to push past your perceived limits, push past that point you thought was as far as you can go.”

– Drew Brees, retired NFL legend and 2010 Super Bowl MVP

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“If you ain’t pissed off for greatness, that just means you’re okay with being mediocre.”

– Ray Lewis, two-time Super Bowl Champion and NFL Hall of Famer


“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.”

– Michael Phelps, swimmer and 18-time Olympic gold medalist

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“When you have a clear vision of your goal, it’s easier to take the first step toward it.”

– L.L. Cool J., rapper and actor

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“We run for the people who think they cant.”

– Dick Hoyt, retired Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard who pushed his quadriplegic son Rick through over 1,000 marathons, triathlons, and Ironman races.

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“I was never a natural athlete, but I paid my dues in sweat and concentration, and took the time necessary to learn karate and became a world champion.”

– Chuck Norris, martial artist and actor

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“Your health account, your bank account, they’re the same thing. The more you put in, the more you can take out. Exercise is king and nutrition is queen. Together you have a kingdom.”

– Jack LaLanne, bodybuilder known as the “Godfather of Fitness”

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“To keep winning, I have to keep improving.”

– Craig Alexander, Ironman World Champion

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“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

– Michael Jordan, 6-time NBA Championship winner

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“I know that if I set my mind to something, even if people are saying I can’t do it, I will achieve it.”

– David Beckham, retired soccer legend

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“We must appreciate and never underestimate our own inner power.”

– Noah Galloway, former Army Ranger and 2014 Ultimate Men’s Health Guy

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“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

Muhammad Ali, boxing legend and civil rights icon

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“If you take time to realize what your dream is and what you really want in life — no matter what it is, whether it’s sports or in other fields — you have to realize that there is always work to do, and you want to be the hardest working person in whatever you do, and you put yourself in a position to be successful. And you have to have a passion about what you do.”

Stephen Curry, 4-time NBA Championship winner

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“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.”

Wayne Gretzky, 4-time Stanley Cup winner

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“Enduring means accepting. Accepting things as they are and not as you would wish them to be, and then looking ahead, not behind.”

Rafael Nadal, tennis legend

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“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

Babe Ruth, Hall of Fame MLB player

Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.

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