When you work out without a coach or trainer to keep you going, it can be easy to let fitness fall to the wayside. It’s much easier for us to motivate ourselves when we have someone else pushing us. For many fitness enthusiasts, though, the pursuit of health is a solitary endeavor.
Sticking with a fitness habit by yourself in the long term can be a challenge. In fact, almost three-quarters of people with a New Year’s resolution to work out end up quitting before they reach their goal. It’s not always easy to keep feeling encouraged to exercise in today’s environment.
Here, we go over some of the best ways to motivate yourself to make fitness a part of your daily routine.
Stick to a Schedule
Too many people jump headfirst into a new workout routine without thinking things through ahead of time. It’s a good idea to come up with an exercise schedule well before your first day on the treadmill. You should decide how many times per week you’d like to work out, and how long each session will last.
Medical and health experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of low to moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes each week of vigorous aerobic exercise. At least two days out of each week, you should aim to focus on muscle-strengthening activities instead of cardio.
It often isn’t enough to just create an internal schedule to follow. This can make it easier to skip important workouts, as work and family obligations can pop up unexpectedly. With a rigid schedule in place, you’re more likely to feel responsible for making each exercise session without excuses, turning workouts from optional to “must-do” activities.
You should block off workout times in your calendar just as you would any other unmissable appointment. That way, you can more easily prioritize your health over late nights and work or impromptu nights out on the town. If you have a busy schedule, you may want to incorporate buffer days so that you still have no excuse not to work out, even when a family or work emergency comes up
Choose a Routine That Works for You
The best way to motivate yourself to exercise is by making it an enjoyable experience. When you find a set that you love, exercise won’t feel so much like work. You should think about your interests and do some research to figure out how they can translate into a fitness routine. Those who love the outdoors, for example, may enjoy hikes and cycling around their neighborhood, while tech junkies may want to incorporate the latest health and wellness innovations into their routine.
You don’t necessarily have to stick to just one workout activity. Even something that you love can become dull and monotonous over time. Variety is the spice of life, and switching up your exercise routine every now and then can help to keep you engaged and interested in what you’re doing.
Set Concrete Goals
One of the main reasons that people quit their workout routine is because they don’t see fast results. It can be disheartening to look in the mirror and see no change after putting in weeks of hard work.
For most of us, though, it can take some time to see weight loss or muscle growth. A sudden change in diet and activity level causes your body to adapt to keep up, and sometimes, this can end up harming your health. Even after initial weight loss, a reduction in metabolic rate can lead to fast rebound weight gain.
You have to stick with your workout if you want to see long-term improvement. If you’re struggling to keep yourself motivated after the initial novelty of your new routine has worn off, you can keep your head in the game by setting goals for yourself.
Instead of exercising because it’s good for you, exercise because you want to reach a goal of yours. You can aim to lose a certain amount of weight in a month, bench press more weight, or even simply increase the duration of your workout. By setting goals, you can stay motivated by giving yourself the immediate gratification of seeing real, tangible, and encouraging results.
As with scheduling, you should write your goals down with pen and paper or using an app. Post it somewhere visible in your home or workout space, and look at the list often. Doing this will help to keep your mind on fitness and remind you what you’re working toward, even when it may seem hopeless.
When setting your goals, it’s important to be realistic. If you set objectives that are too lofty or complex, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This can be highly demotivating, especially for those who are just getting started working out. Start small and work your way up from there. Some ideal fitness goals to start out with include:
- Doing five more sit-ups or pushups each week
- Increasing your running time by intervals of a few minutes
- Losing one to two pounds per week
- Try a new workout activity
- Learn how to use a new piece of gym equipment
- Create a pre- or post-workout stretch
Create an Exercise Space
If you’re a gym member, the chances are that you already have a dedicated exercise space. For those who exercise at home, outdoors, or elsewhere, however, it may be necessary to set up a dedicated space for your workouts.
Just like you should never use your bed for anything other than sleep, your workout area should also be reserved purely for exercise. It will help you to get in the right mind space when working out and ensures that you aren’t deterred by the extra time it takes to set up and put away equipment.
Your workout space can be anywhere in your home, whether you live in a sprawling four-bedroom house or a studio apartment. You should aim to make whatever space you have work for you. If you have a large area at your disposal, you may want to go all out and buy your own workout machines. When dealing with a smaller space, it’s best to stick to equipment that stores easily, such as yoga mats and inflatable exercise balls.
Get a New Wardrobe
It’s not always easy to work out in everyday clothes or loungewear. Like setting up a dedicated exercise space, having a workout wardrobe can help to motivate you to get off the couch and onto the treadmill.
Even just putting on your exercise clothes can help to get you pumped for your next session. Studies show that what we wear can have a significant impact on our mood and mental processes. Wearing yoga pants and a sports bra instead of the usual slacks or jeans can help to prime you mentally for your next workout and keep your motivation high.
The power of visualization is often underrated in the fitness realm. As with many areas of life, though, seeing your success in your mind’s eye can serve as a powerful motivating tool. Closing your eyes and seeing yourself at your target weight or imagining your eventual stamina is one of the first steps toward actually getting there.
Visualizing the outcome of the goals that you’ve set for yourself also forces you to identify factors that may be holding you back from self-achievement. By realizing and acknowledging potential obstacles, you can actively work toward overcoming them.
If you start to feel down and unmotivated about your workouts, don’t skip your next session. Take a moment to stop, breathe, and imagine the sense of accomplishment that you’ll feel when you finally reach your target.
If your thoughts start taking a turn for the worse, force yourself back onto a positive train of thought. Remind yourself that you’re doing something that’s good for your mind and body and that you’re perfectly capable of reaching your goals and more if you set your mind to it.
Log Your Workout Sessions
Keeping a journal can help improve performance in many areas of life, including fitness. It allows you to recognize and reflect on your progress while reevaluating your workout goals as needed. You should record both your progress and your setbacks to help you improve your workouts and stay focused on your fitness goals.
It can be tempting after working out to compare yourself to the latest fitness magazine model, but holding yourself up to others’ standards can end up causing frustration and destroying drive. You are your biggest competitor, and the only person that you should be holding your progress to is yourself from a month ago.
By keeping track of your daily and weekly workout frequency and progress made, you can easily compare where you’re at now to where you were before you began your fitness journey. You can also see evidence that you’re getting closer to accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself.
You can use a physical book, a mobile app, or create an ongoing note in programs Evernote
track measurements like weight, waist size, and body fat percentage as well as progress made in your workouts. When you need a boost in motivation, you can look back at your logs to see how far you’ve come and give you proof that your hard work isn’t being wasted.
Try a Fitness Tracker
These days, trackers such as FitBit that connect to your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device are all the rage in the home fitness community. Around a third of U.S. consumers own a fitness band, and almost half use their device daily.
A fitness tracker makes it even easier to log your workouts and keep accurate track of metrics such as heart rate and steps taken in a day. You can track, monitor, and even track your progress across weeks and months.
Some fitness trackers also offer more fun features to help boost motivation and keep you engaged in your workout. Some allow you to connect with others so that you can compete against friends for most steps taken, the number of pounds shed, and more.
If you’re new to the fitness world, some trackers and fitness apps also offer personal training features that can help you to hit the ground running from your first workout—no pun intended. You can stream fitness videos, search for expert advice and guidance, or get ideas for new and exciting workouts.
Join a Support Group
Just because you don’t have a trainer standing there and encouraging you as you work out doesn’t mean that you can’t have your very own cheer team. Joining a support group can help to give you a sense of camaraderie without having to set foot outside of your home gym.
You can go online or ask around at local gyms to find like-minded people to help keep you on track with your workouts. Meeting in a chatroom or in person a few times a month gives you the chance to talk shop with other fitness-oriented people. You can discuss your progress, new exercise techniques, or even schedule workout sessions together.
Joining a fitness group also gives you some degree of accountability for sticking to your workout schedule. If you have to tell your workout friends that you skipped leg day this week, you’re less likely to give in to the temptation. A support group also gives you the perfect place to brag about your accomplishments and gain some outside recognition for reaching your fitness goals.
Sign up for Fitness Events
If you don’t have the time to join a weekly meetup, you can spend time with other health enthusiasts by signing up for fitness events in your area. Common event types to look for include:
- Races and marathons
- Iron Man competitions
- Master classes in yoga, pilates, martial arts, and more
- Weight lifting competitions
- Group hikes
- Obstacle courses
- Fun runs
Signing up for some type of fitness event gives you the chance to push yourself. Challenging yourself and embracing your competitive side can help to keep your fitness routine feeling fresh and interesting, especially after months or years or working out regularly.
Signing up for an event such as a race or triathlon also gives you a definitive goal to work toward and helps to motivate you leading up to the event. You’ll have more accountability in your workouts, and more motivation to succeed.
Not only will you have the chance to further improve your fitness, but you may also be able to meet other fitness enthusiasts in your area. You can share exercise tips, talk about your experience, or even arrange to train together.
Set up a Buddy System
Even if you don’t work out together, having a friend behind your back can keep you motivated. Regardless of where you meet your fitness buddies, they can help you to stay on track when it comes to your workouts. You can create a system with one or more friends who also exercise alone to help build a sense of community and accountability.
All parties should keep each other updated via text, social media, or a shared document about their workouts, their setbacks, and their progress. If you want, you can even include photos and progress pics.
With others tuning into your fitness routine, you’ll feel more of a drive to stick to the schedule you set. You’ll have to answer to someone else when you have a slump in your workouts, and you have an eager audience with whom you can share your triumphs of the day.
You can find classes at your gym or check online on social media to look for fitness classes in your area. You can plan courses that you want to take into your weekly workout schedule, helping to add some variety to your routine.
While many people choose to pay for classes at their local gym, you can also find the occasional free or low-cost gatherings. Often, activities such as group hikes or yoga in the park are open to the public and cost nothing to join.
If you’re the sort of person who prefers structure in their workout schedule, classes can help to put you in close quarters with health experts who can help to guide you in your fitness journey without the expense or inconvenience of a personal trainer. You can turn to them for help setting a schedule and creating goals and check in periodically before or after class.
As with anything in life, it’s easier to push yourself if you know that there’s a reward waiting for you at the end of the road. Promising yourself a post-workout treat can help you to stick to your workout schedule even on days that you don’t feel like doing anything more active than lounging on the couch.
Learning to associate exercise with something positive makes the benefits of working out more tangible and more immediately gratifying, helping you to solidify a stong workout ethic. There are endless ways that you can reward yourself, such as:
- Enjoying an evening out at your favorite restaurant
- Getting a new game you’ve been eyeing
- Renting a new movie or taking a trip to the cinema
- Getting professional massage
- Treating yourself to a new piece of workout equipment
- Going to see your favorite band in concert
- Posting your success online after your workout
You should be strict about allowing yourself your reward only when you’ve met your goal. This could be anything from working out a certain number of days in a week to shedding a specific number of pounds, to trying out a new routine.
When rewarding yourself, try to avoid fatty or sugary treats. While it can be tempting to justify it by thinking of the number of calories you’ve burned, you don’t want to end up undoing all of your hard work for the day. If you’re motivated by food, stick to healthy treats such as fruit.
Bet on Yourself
Others give us accountability, and it’s been shown that we’re more likely to follow through on our promises when we make them in front of friends and family. This includes fitness pledges. By announcing goals to your loved ones, you turn intentions into reality. Studies also show that those who commit to longer fitness contracts tend to have more success in meeting their exercise objectives.
One tactic that some people find effective is to put money on the line when exercising. After telling your friends or family about your goals, write a check, and give it to someone you trust. Give yourself a timeframe in which to accomplish your goals, and tell them that if you don’t make the cut, they can cash the check and keep the money or donate it to a charity.
With money on the line, you may be more motivated to meet your fitness goals. You pay a literal penalty for skipping your workout. Even when you don’t see significant progress, holding onto your money will feel like an accomplishment. You can even use it to treat yourself as a reward.
Create a Workout Playlist
Though it may seem like a simple fix, listening to music while working out has been proven to help improve motivation and performance. A playlist can help to increase your stamina, improve your mood, and distract you from discomfort.
It’s best to synchronize your music to your workouts. During fast cardio, for example, listening to songs with a strong, steady beat can help you to keep pace. According to studies, the best temp for cycling is between 125 and 140 beats per minute (bpm), while the preferred tempo for the treadmill is between 123 and 131 bpm.
Not only can the beat help to energize you, but music with inspiring lyrics can help to keep you motivated. Listening to artists who inspire you to improve yourself is a good way to encourage yourself to exercise for longer or work out harder during a set.
Turn TV Time into a Workout
For some, keeping up with a workout routine is a challenge due to boredom. Spending hours on the treadmill or lifting weights can become monotonous, even with a killer playlist going. If you find yourself zoning out when exercising, you can keep yourself engaged and focused by putting on a program in the background.
Watching TV while working out is not only entertaining but also helps to keep your mind off of pain and discomfort, making sessions fly by even on days when you’re feeling less than your best. You can schedule workouts around your favorite shows, or set up a screen and watch a streaming service as you work.
One surefire way to motivate yourself to work out regularly is by designating one of your favorite shows as your “exercise show.” Any time that you want to watch an episode, you have to force yourself to keep moving.
If watching TV while working out is too distracting for you, then you can set a pace so that you’re moving vigorously during commercial breaks while sticking to light or moderate activity during the actual show. This allows you to center your full focus on your workout without missing out on any of your show. For example, when on the treadmill, you can walk while your program is playing and run during commercials.
Even if you’re good about sticking to your workout schedule, it’s easy to become complacent. You need to keep constant tabs on how you’re doing and monitor progress through factors such as waistline, weight, and resting heart rate. You should frequently check and see if you’re on chart to achieve your goals.
If you notice a decline or slump in your progress, it may be that you need to rethink your exercise routine. Over time, your strength, stamina, and the needs of your body will all change, requiring you to adapt your workouts accordingly.
One of the best ways to keep seeing significant gains is by constantly reevaluating and tweaking your workouts. Each week, you should reflect on what’s going right for you when exercising, and what could use some work. By learning from your experience, you can ensure that your workout routine doesn’t go stale and that you remain on track to meet your goals.
Don’t Forget About Nutrition
While working out may give you some of the results you’re looking for, health is about more than just working out. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or bulk up some muscles, diet is just as crucial as exercise when it comes to sculpting your body.
You should avoid red meat, alcohol, and refined sugars as much as possible. Instead, stick to lean proteins such as fish or chicken, plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and healthy whole grains. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be one of the healthiest options out there, offering long-term mental and physical health benefits.
By starting a healthy meal plan at the same time you start exercising, you’re bound to see more significant results earlier on in the game. This can do wonders for your motivation, helping to prove to you that change is possible when you set your mind to it.
It can be a challenge to stay motivated when working out alone. Without a coach, personal trainer, or even a friend to hold you accountable, it’s all too easy to cheat on your exercise routine. When there’s no one else there to do it for you, you have to challenge yourself. If you enjoy your workouts, you’ll be setting yourself up to successfully form a healthy new habit.