How to Motivate Yourself to Start Working Out
Even if you know that working out will make you feel great, it can still be hard to motivate yourself to get up and do it. However, if you start with small goals and create a routine, you can get back on track no matter how long it’s been since you worked out!
As the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and this couldn’t be any more true for starting a fitness regimen. Once fitness becomes a habit, it’s a lot easier to remain consistent and work toward reaching your goals. The first few weeks, however, can be challenging.
By finding the right form of motivation to get you moving, you can push through those early days and make fitness become second nature. Here are some effective ways to motivate yourself to start working out.
A lot of people feel that initial boost of motivation. They’re going to start Monday, work out every day, and accomplish all of their goals! Then, reality sets in. They might make it to the gym the first few days, then get too sore from training to continue, then get back for one day, then the weekend hits and it all falls apart.
The best way to motivate yourself and build a healthy habit or pattern of behavior is to start small and scale up. Set yourself up for success by setting a goal to go to the gym for short training sessions three days this week. Take time to celebrate accomplishing that goal. Then go for a bit longer the next week and so on. Create a foundation and build yourself up.
Buy yourself some cool new workout gear
If you only have one pair of gym shorts or yoga pants, it’s easy to skip working out because you haven’t done laundry. Treat yourself to a few new pieces of athletic wear that you really love. You’ll be excited to work out just to have an excuse to wear them!
- Quality running, walking or hiking shoes are important to be fitted properly to you, to prevent injuries and make your experience more pleasant. Cheap, ill fitting shoes will lead to issues like shin splints, foot issues, knee and back pain.
- It is OK to use what you have. Putting down money on athletic gear helps you commit to an activity. But that might not be affordable for you if you do not have the cash handy.
- Ask for loaner gear if necessary. Usually a gym, team, or organization will be happy to provide a new person with loaner gear to try before committing. For example, an ice hockey rec league may have some extra pads and skates available if asked.
- Workout gear can be expensive, so don’t try to buy it all at once if you don’t have the extra money. Just buy one or two pieces whenever you can, and keep your eye out for good sales.
- Try setting your workout gear on a chair or a table so it’s out in the open. That way, it will keep the idea of working out at the forefront of your mind.
Use Extrinsic Motivation to Your Benefit
There are two main forms of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. When you start training, your motivation is often extrinsic. In other words, you’re motivated by an outside source or reward. For example, the idea of getting back into your college jeans is an extrinsic form of motivation.
Use extrinsic motivation to create a reward system. For example, if you meet your gym goals for the week, you might celebrate with gelato from your favorite cafe. If you meet your gym goals for a month, reward yourself with new fitness attire, Find something that gives you an extra boost to accomplish your goals.
At some point, intrinsic motivation will take over. Rather than needing an external motivator, you’ll feel happy with how going to the gym makes you feel. That internal satisfaction is what changes your motivation into dedication over time.
Find a workout buddy if you like having an accountability partner
Some people prefer to work out alone, but you might find motivation from having a friend to help keep you on track. The two of you can plan to work out together, or you can just talk at the end of each day and discuss whether you both met your goals.
- Talking to a friend can be really helpful for identifying the barriers that keep you from working out. Having to explain the reason you didn’t hit the gym will force you to really think about the underlying cause, whether it be due to self-doubt, stress, or feeling overwhelmed.
- A group fitness class can be a great way to find a supportive group of people who will motivate you to work out.
Find the Right Fit
There’s a lot of noise online about which exercise is best, and it’s all subjective. The best exercise is ultimately the one that you can commit to in pursuit of your goals. If you hate running and find your passion in Yoga, do Yoga. If you discover that strength sports like powerlifting make you feel amazing, do them.
Choosing something that you enjoy will help you get into a routine. Once you’ve established your habits, you can expand your horizons and try adding something new.
The same idea applies to group fitness versus personal fitness. If the energy of a group training session like Zumba or Crossfit motivates you, go for it. If you aren’t comfortable with that environment, find something you can do on your own.
Make a playlist that makes you want to move
Music that is between 125-140 beats per minute has been shown to be the most effective for working out. Pick fast-paced music with a strong beat that you can jam out to while you exercise.
- Songs at 140 bpm include “Womanizer” by Britney Spears, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows, and “OMG” by Usher.
- Start listening to your playlist while you’re getting dressed to get you in the right frame of mind before your workout even starts.
Prioritize Time Management
Make it easy to succeed by prioritizing your time management. Think of the best time to workout based on your schedule. Set aside time on Sunday each week to plan the week ahead and book your training time like you would a doctor’s appointment. Then, ensure that your gear is ready to go: have your gym bag packed and in your car for an early morning workout or so you can stop on the way home from work.
It’s estimated that people spend more than two hours on social media each day. Track your time and evaluate how much you’re wasting before saying that you don’t have time to train. This can be an eye-opening exercise that realigns your priorities in a hurry.
Aim to work out 3 days per week
Setting a manageable goal, like exercising 3 times a week, makes it more likely that you’ll meet your goal, because you won’t feel discouraged if you miss a day.
- When you are able to work out without feeling pressured, you might even find that you’re motivated to work out more often than your goal!
- In general, you should do 150 minutes of cardio a week, and add resistance training on at least 2 days of the week.
Add both cardio and strength training to your routine
When you’re focusing on getting in shape, it’s important to balance endurance training, or cardio, with strength training exercises like lifting weights.
- Some workouts will have both, like a well made Zumba workout or circuit training.
- Combining resistance training and cardio is a great way to do both at once. Jump squats, burpees, and mountain climbers can be added into your cardio routine. Crossfit and circuit training are other options.
- Depending on your level of fitness, it’s perfectly OK to start with just one type of exercise. You might want to start by just walking, or a 15 minute strength workout you found on YouTube. Aim for a well balanced workout, but start wherever works for you.
Schedule your workout into your day
Life can get hectic, and you probably have a lot going on in your day. You plan meetings for work, doctors’ appointments, and even lunch with your friends, so make working out a priority by scheduling time for your workout.
- Working out doesn’t have to take a lot of time out of your day. Schedule 20 minutes into your day 10 minutes for a high-intensity workout, and 10 minutes for a quick shower.
Start with short workouts that you’re likely to complete
Don’t try to force yourself to work out for an hour the very first time you exercise. Instead, start with small goals that you feel are manageable, like doing 10 jumping jacks and 10 push-ups.
- The next day, try to increase the number to 15 of each, and add in 10 squats.
Set mini-goals during your workout
Spending 20 minutes on the treadmill might seem intimidating if you’re out of breath 2 minutes in. Instead of focusing on the big picture, tell yourself you can make it to 3 minutes, then 5, then 7.
- If you need to, slow your pace during the workout so you can keep going and meet your goals.
Make bargains with yourself if you’re having trouble getting started
Sometimes the hardest part of working out is taking the first step. If you’re finding it hard to get started, try bargaining with yourself. Tell yourself you just have to put on your workout clothes, but you don’t have to do anything else.
- After that, try telling yourself to just go outside and stretch, do your warm-up routine, or drive to the gym.
Find exercises you think are fun
Most people think of activities like running or lifting weights when they think of working out, but as long as you’re being active, you’re making yourself healthier. Find an activity you really love, like rock climbing, swimming, or dancing, and make that your workout.
- Even just a quick dance party in your living room a couple of times a day can help you get in better shape!
- Other examples of fun workouts might include Tai Chi, Zumba, parkour, or even joining an amateur sports team!
Switch up your exercises so you don’t get bored
If you do the exact same thing every day, whether it’s running around the block or doing the same workout video, you’ll start to get bored. You may stop seeing the same results once your body is used to the exercise, and this can affect your motivation. Try to change up your workout routine to keep challenging yourself.
- You might want to run one day, lift weights another, and go swimming on the weekends