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How to Workout When You’re Too Exhausted To Function

Reader question: How do I get my workouts in when I’m just so exhausted from pregnancy/toddlers/work/life?

I understand how the motivation to exert yourself to workout can feel impossible when you are pregnant, or have little ones, or both. The idea may be enough to make you groan.


I remember the feeling well.

After some consistency I couldn’t make myself NOT work out. How did I get from cringing at the mere suggestion of exercise in the midst of my exhaustion to not being able to live without it?

I quickly realized that exercise CREATES energy, not drain it.

Instead of adding to my exhaustion, it eliminated it.

So I got addicted, like a drug.

How can you become so addicted to working out that you can’t make it through your day without, regardless of pregnancy or small children or work?

Here are the steps to overcoming your exhaustion, and I’ve included a bonus for you at the end of the article.

Step 1: Check your motivation.

What’s your why? There are a million reasons to workout. I can give you a few that will not sustain your motivation:

  • to lose weight (you won’t see any real changes for weeks)
  • to not gain too much weight during pregnancy (your body is going to do what it needs to do, no matter how much you work out)
  • because someone else thinks you should or wants you to (someone else’s motivation can’t substitute for your own, and hey tell them to mind their own business while you’re at it!)

If you want to find the motivation to exercise, you need to find an immediate gratification that you can get in touch with right away. Some examples:

  • It melts the stress away.
  • It creates more energy to devote to my toddler.
  • It helps me sleep better at night.
  • Because I’m better at it each time I do it.
  • It releases endorphins that erase the aches and pains of pregnancy.
  • It’s good for my unborn baby (see this article for a list of benefits to your baby)

Write your motivation down somewhere you can see it everyday, whether this is a post-it on your mirror or wallpaper for your lock screen on your phone. When you don’t feel like exercising, read your why.

Step 2: Short, Efficient Workouts

Forget long, boring workouts if you’re struggling with motivation. It’s much easier to face a quick, efficient workout that’s over before Daniel Tiger is.

Instead, try interval training workouts that you can do with little to no equipment in your living room, no gym required. Choose 4 or 5 bodyweight exercises (pushups, jumping jacks, air squats, etc.) and do each of them for about 1 minute, with a short 10-15 second rest in between. Go through each exercise once and then repeat the whole thing 4 or 5 times. (If you’re pregnant, don’t let your rate of perceived exertion reach an intensity level higher than a 7 or 8, 6 if you’re not used to exercise).


Interval training will give you a quick hit of activity that will benefit not only your cardiovascular health but will also increase your strength. If you’re feeling really low on motivation, try just doing one round and see how you feel when you’re done. Even a few minutes will get your blood pumping and give you a quick hit of those awesome endorphins.

Weekly HIIT Workout for Pregnancy "Knocked Up" Workout | Fit To Be Pregnant

Step 3: Find a non-negotiable time that works the majority of the time.

What predictable time do you have each and every day to devote to yourself? Could you get up 30 minutes before the kids do? Could you set aside the first 20 minutes of naptime to workout? Could you allow your toddler 30 minutes on the iPad while you do a living room routine? Could you take half of your lunch break at work? Could you get your toddlers in on the fun and teach them how to burpee? Could you work out a deal with a friend or neighbor to babysit?

When Austin was a teeny baby, we did a lot of this:

babyworkoutAs he got older and naps became more predictable, I could work out while he slept.

Step 4: Get addicted.

When you start paying attention to how you feel after your workouts, and you make the connection between those workouts and an increase in energy and decrease in aches and pains, you won’t be able to stop. Nothing will stop you. Instead of seeing exercise as something you have to do, you’ll see it as a cure for all that ails you. You won’t care about the summer heat or a busy schedule or anything else that threatens your precious workout time, you’ll just figure it out because YOU HAVE TO.

So now that you have a plan, let’s take some action:

Action 1: Write down your motivation for working out. Make sure whatever you choose has INSTANT benefits that you can recognize right away, like the examples above. Leave a comment below and let me know what you chose.

Action 2: Think through your day and figure out a predictable time you can set aside for just 20-30 minutes. Schedule it into your calendar. Yes, really actually put an appointment into your calendar and set a reminder.


I’ve put together 4 of my favorite interval training workouts for you, all of which can be done in your living room with minimal equipment. Click here to download.


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  1. Dee

    October 12th, 2017 at 9:09 am

    This was so insightful. Thank you. And like you said it’s so true how u actually feel happier AND more energetic post a workout and the days you DONT workout, u feel like a zombie

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