Most of us have experienced an exercise plateau at some point during our fitness journey. Regardless of how much we want to achieve our goals, staying motivated for workout isn’t always easy. There can be several reasons(excuses) for not working out, such as “it’s lovely outside” or maybe “it’s not that great outside” or because the Raptors are playing the 76ers(we approve of this as legitimate). Also, there can be completely valid reasons for not going, like if you’re feeling super tired from work or something else has you stressed out and occupied, it’s fine skipping a day or two. Exercise isn’t meant to be a burden, it’s supposed an enjoyment, a stress reliever.
Been there, done that. And this is why we have some great recommendations for keeping your exercise motivation strong. So, if you’re looking for tips to stay motivated for workout, read on!
Man working out on a mat
FIND YOUR ‘WHY’
Understanding why you exercise can help you navigate how to stay motivated working out. If your fitness goals aren’t aligned with what you really want in life, you’ll find motivation harder to come by.
Goal setting provides structure, which can help us to stay committed and disciplined. Goals also help us to recognize milestones and progression. Whether it’s for enjoyment, social connection, mental health, or aesthetic goals- explore (and give weight to) your motivations. Try to identify one short, medium, and long-term goal.
It could be anything like getting into those skinny jeans, or maybe making everybody swoon over your body whenever you take your shirt off. It could be anything as long as it makes you lift more weights, stretch for longer, or more generally, it keeps you working out regularly. Also, goals can evolve over time. For example, a beginning goal could be to lose weight and be fit, but if you stay dedicated and achieve that, sometime later your goal could be exercising just to stay that way, and not gain weight.
SMART goals are also a great way to plan ahead; goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific, are successful.
BUILD A ROUTINE
According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes 66 days to build a habit.
Once a habit is formed, we are much more likely to stick with it. We just need to get there! Routine builds consistency, which, in turn, builds results. Circle back to the ‘why’- this breeds more motivation.
ENJOYMENT NOT PUNISHMENT
Staying motivated for exercise can be hard, especially when you’re not enjoying it. Make sure to incorporate your favorite physical activities in your workout session. It could be dancing, bike riding or even playing your favorite games like basketball or something. If you don’t like HIIT, you don’t have to do it! This way you’ll be looking forward to workout sessions more often than not.
When you’re feeling a sense of dread for an upcoming workout, it’s time to switch it up.
Woman running outdoors
MIX IT UP
Trying new things helps to stave off workout boredom. Coupling exercise with your favorite activities like listening to your favorite music or audiobooks or watching TV while lifting is a great way to add more zing to your workout and feel enthusiastic about it.
START SMALL, DO LESS
Have you ever noticed how small changes can create huge results? James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, describes how small, sustainable goals provide the best results over time. When you set goals, ask yourself
- How can I make it obvious?
- How can I make it attractive?
- How can I make it easy?
- How can I make it satisfying?
Trying to do too much at once can quickly lead to burnout and loss of interest. Rest days, active recovery, and naps are great examples of scaling back; this can help prevent injury and overtraining.
In fact, research tells us that napping can actually improve performance and energy levels!
Starting small can help us feel less overwhelmed. Also, small goals can be easily achieved, and once they are, it works as an added fitness motivation and gives you that drive to get to the next milestone.
MAKE IT SOCIAL
Share your journey with others.
Go to classes, enter competitions, involve friends.
Motivation is higher when we feel connected and accountable. In fact, there is evidence that engaging in a little competition with someone will definitely motivate you for exercise, and help you increase both your workout time and intensity. Even if your partner is evidently better more fit than you, working together would serve as a great way of developing more workout inspiration.
There’s no better feeling than sharing that post-workout endorphin hit!
Man and woman bike riding together
Identifying possible exercise barriers, ahead of time, can help us to find solutions early on.
This can be physical, mental, or environmental- think commuting and childcare.
Regardless, address the barriers early and find a solution that works for you.
When things feel like less of a struggle, we feel encouraged.
REWARD AND PENALIZE YOURSELF
When you know you’ll be getting something out of a workout session(apart from your fitness goals), you’ll naturally feel more thrilled about it. So, have little rewards for yourself like buying a new video game, or a cheat meal, or new and better workout gear, or basically anything that interests you. This will not just make you more excited for exercise, you’ll start craving it. Similarly, penalize yourself for not hitting the gym. Hold yourself accountable, and have consequences for it. For example, if you love video games distance yourself from them for five days, and the next thing you know, you haven’t missed a workout session for four years and it’s a world record(we don’t guarantee this, but who knows).
Motivation for exercise can be hard to come by, but it can also be hugely rewarding when you find your rhythm.
We’re in it with you!
Remember, building an enjoyable and sustainable routine is the gateway to workout success.