- How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out: 7 Tips to Get Moving
- 7 Tips to Get Motivated for a Workout
- 7. Stop eating unhealthy food
- In a nutshell: Train your motivation like a muscle
- 5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise Regularly
- Tips for Working Out at Home When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do
- 40 Things to Try When You Don’t Want to Work Out
- The “I Don’t Want To Work Out, But I Know I Need To” Solution
- When You Just Don’t Want to Work Out, Try This
- Other Tips and Tricks
- Using Different Rep Ranges
- There’s No Way That’ll Work!
- Don’t Want to Workout? We’ve Got Just the Plan!
- Brush Your Teeth, Make Your Bed, and Do Your Squats
- Life Can Only Be So Easy
- The Best Place to Start
- The Warm-Up
- Daily Workout 1
- Daily Workout 2
- Is 10 Minutes Going to Do Anything?
How to Motivate Yourself to Work Out: 7 Tips to Get Moving
I’m so tired. I’m too stressed out. It’s cold and wet outside, and the sofa is so cozy…
We all know, it’s tough to get started. It’s not easy to throw on your workout clothes and start tackling your fitness goals.
Our inner couch potato is often our worst enemy. We subconsciously waste a lot of energy trying to figure out how to get out of a workout. But has it ever occurred to you that we make it into something much worse than it actually is? After all, it’s not about running a marathon three times a week or preparing for a bodyweight training competition. We’re just talking about a 20 to 50 minute run or workout – and it doesn’t even have to be every day.
It’s time to break those mental barriers and get our sweat on!
7 Tips to Get Motivated for a Workout
1. Put your workout clothes on
Don’t think about it, just get dressed. You’re not going to just plop yourself on the couch after having put your training clothes on. Find something that fits you and makes you feel good when you wear it. Bright colors or all black, whatever you prefer.
2. Write down how you feel after your workout
Keep a little journal and write down how you feel after training. If you record your workouts with the Runtastic app, you can add a note to each activity. That way you can go back and take a look at those awesome feelings when you’re just not feeling in the mood.
Exercise makes you happy
Generally, we want to skip our workout because we’re tired, busy, low-energy, and have too many things to do. But when you’re done working out – hello endorphins! You’ll probably write things down like: I feel great, I am so happy I finished that workout, I have so much energy, I feel so strong!
3. Variety, variety, variety
Don’t do the same workout all the time. Mix it up! You can go for a run or a bike ride or do some bodyweight training using the Results app. This is a great way to make your workout routine more fun so you will stick to it long-term.
4. Put your workouts in your calendar
If you put your workouts in your calendar every week, you can’t make excuses. Think of these as appointments – as time for yourself. You’ll see, planning helps.
5. Surround yourself with motivation
You also need to hang around with people that make you feel capable of reaching your goals. It can be helpful to write down your goals and motivational quotes where you can see them every day.
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6. Everything is easier in a group
Working out in a group makes everything better! It’s so great to combine exercise with social time – your friends motivate you and help you push through a tough workout. So, get your friends on board and get moving!
7. Stop eating unhealthy food
When you eat unhealthy, processed, and high-sugar foods, your body doesn’t get the energy it needs. These foods make you feel tired, lazy, unmotivated, and grumpy. So, make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables as well as the three macronutrients protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Do this and you’re guaranteed to reach your fitness goals.
Try a delicious vegan post-workout shake with peanut butter after exercising:
VEGAN POST-WORKOUT SHAKE (WITHOUT PROTEIN POWDER!)
- 2 small ripe bananas
- 200 ml almond milk (unsweetened)
- 2 Tbsp peanut butter (100 % peanuts)
- 2 tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
- Some grated vanilla
- Peel the bananas and blend them with the other ingredients until they turn into a creamy shake. Enjoy it after your next sweaty workout!
|Amount Per Serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 11||16.9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 45||15%|
|Vitamin A||Vitamin C|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
adidas Runtastic Blog
In a nutshell: Train your motivation like a muscle
Remember: every day is different. Sometimes you may feel totally motivated, like you could run an ultramarathon. Other days you might just want to stay at home on the sofa. That’s totally normal. Just don’t forget that it’s about finding the right balance between sports and recovery. Think about why you want to reach your fitness goals. Keep your eyes on the prize and train your motivation like a muscle – we believe in you!
5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise Regularly
by Julie Kailus
If losing pounds is as easy as journaling about what you put in your mouth, can you use the same technique to help you stick to a fitness routine?
Dieters who kept a food diary lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records, according to a recent study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research. But while keeping a journal holds you more accountable for how you treat your body, sticking to a fitness routine is different from sticking to a healthy eating routine. Personal trainers we talked to recommend these tactics to keep you motivated and inspired to work out.
1. Change your perspective
Shift your thinking from couch potato mentality to thinking like an athlete. This may sound like a big challenge, but it’s not as big a leap as you think. Essex, Massachusetts mom April Bowling, 33, stopped using her busy life as an excuse not to exercise. After the birth of her children (now ages five and three), Bowling started viewing exercise as a way to set a strong example for her kids.
“At first I looked at it as time away from them, but I realized kids do what they see you doing,” she says. “Now both kids are very physically active.”
Bowling started thinking about her workouts at odd hours as a blessing rather than a sacrifice. She also found inspiration in others — looking outward for extra motivation. “Take inspiration from everyone you meet — even people who can’t be physically active,” she says. “It reinforces why I’m lucky.” Whether you need to put an “I’m lucky” sticky note on the mirror, or you can see the power of health in your children’s eyes, committing to a fitness routine begins in your head.
2. Set a goal
There’s nothing more motivating than that first 5K looming in bold letters on the calendar. Register early and commit to an exercise program that will get you in shape by race day.
“Set realistic goals that include clear milestones, and as you progress toward your goal, you’ll find a ripple effect occurs and things fall into place in your work, home life, and health,” says Stacy Fowler, a Denver-based personal trainer and life coach.
The goal doesn’t even have to be an organized race. Maybe it’s a mission to fit into that bikini by the annual beach vacation or that old pair of jeans buried in your closet. Whatever it is, define it, write it down and revisit it daily.
Make sure it’s realistic and you can actually adapt your life around meeting the goal, says Philip Haberstro, executive director of the National Association for Health and Fitness in Buffalo, New York. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. Bowling started with a mini triathlon in 2006 (250-yard swim, 10-mile bike ride and 3.5 mile run). This year she completed Ironman Wisconsin (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run).
3. Schedule a regular workout time
Some of the most committed exercisers do it every day before the sun comes up or late at night when the kids are in bed. Sit down with your weekly schedule and try to build in an hour each day to be good to your body.
Tamira Cole, 24, a graduate student in Clarksville,Tennessee, was motivated to exercise regularly by the energy boost it brought to her day. “It’s easy to stay in bed. But you have to set an alarm and take the extra initiative,” she says. “Then you’ll find you have more energy and can be more efficient throughout the day.”
If you convince yourself you’ll fit in a workout some time after that last meeting, once the kids go down for a nap or when your spouse arrives home on time, failure is certain. Chances are a last-minute invitation will come along; weather will foil a bike ride; or the kids won’t nap. Write your workout on your calendar, set up daycare, and rearrange things around this one hour as if it were any other important appointment you have to keep. Or use technology like daily e-mail reminders, workout journaling websites, or apps to keep you on task, says Haberstro.
4. Think fun and variety
By nature, humans need change and variety to stay motivated. We also need to have fun — even while we’re working hard. Do both!
Whether it’s a toning and sculpting class that changes choreography every week or a trail run that changes scenery every season, design your exercise routine around a variety of exercise methods. Make sure you include activities you truly enjoy and look forward to doing, and can even make you forget you’re working out — like dancing, hula hooping, or playing sports with family and friends.
Listen to your inner voice when choosing the best workout for you, says Fowler. Cole found a hip-hop class that satisfied her passion for dance. “I had more energy from dancing than I did from running,” she says.
Workout variety also challenges your body in unique ways, which may introduce you to new muscle groups you didn’t even know you had. Consider disciplines that give you more bang for your buck, suggests Haberstro. Ta’i chi and yoga, for example, serve dual purposes as mental therapy and physical activity. Or try a workout DVD to help you shake up your routine.
5. Reach out to others for support
In America, some tend to have trouble asking for help, says Bowling. Yet in order to stick to a fitness program, we need buy-in and encouragement from other people.
“Exercising is built into our family life,” Bowling adds. “We view it as a necessity. Sometimes it takes the place of watching TV together.”
For others, it’s finding a friend with a shared zest for running, and planning scheduled workouts together. It’s easy to hit the snooze button when it’s just you, but much harder to leave a friend waiting at the track.
Consider joining a social networking site or online community with fitness trainers and nutrition experts — and support from other people trying to lose weight and maintain healthy eating and exercise routines. People who get this kind of online support are proven to lose up to three times more weight than people going it alone.
Lobbying your workplace to offer on-site fitness, yoga, or Pilates classes will also support your mission for a healthy lifestyle, Haberstro points out.
So start thinking of yourself as an athlete, and not a spectator. Set a goal, enlist a friend, mark it on your calendar, and have some fun. You’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of better health, more happiness, and more energy for everything else in your life.
Tips for Working Out at Home When It’s The Last Thing You Want To Do
If getting to the gym is half the battle, it should be easier to just eliminate that half and work out in the comfort of your own home, right?
Well, sort of. Although your place is crazy convenient, it’s hard to stay motivated when you’re so close to temptation (read: the TV and the couch).
To help you resist said temptation and get in a solid sweat session at home, we went straight to the people who know what it’s like: our readers—real people with real lives, real jobs, and really busy schedules just like you. Here they share seven legit tips that’ll motivate you to work out at home, even if you don’t feel like it.
1. Find your digital fitness fit.
The No. 1 most important thing you can do is find a routine you’re actually going to enjoy doing at home. Certain workouts (think equipment-heavy activities) won’t translate well. But the good news: It’s 2017, and thanks to technology, you have access to an endless amount of at-home exercise options.
Take a moment, think about what types of activities you enjoy, and then do some research. From fitness apps and websites (like this one, ahem) that transform your phone into a personal trainer to live stream videos that turn your living room into a fitness studio, there are plenty of ways to get guidance, motivation, and variety. With a little bit of internet research and soul-searching, you can easily find a fitness routine that will work for you.
“The key for me was finding something I loved doing,” says Megan Wakefield of Littleton, CO. “I don’t battle myself to do it because I want to do it, and I fully enjoy the process.”
2. Pencil it in.
Would you remember to go to your dentist appointment or make it to that weekly meeting if you didn’t add it to your calendar? Probably not. The same goes for your workouts. “I schedule it like it’s an appointment,” says Holly Van Hare of Boston, MA. Prioritize exercise by blocking out time on your calendar and then planning your days and weeks around those blocks.
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3. Set your space.
The tricky part about an at-home workout is that—surprise!—your home is not a gym. If you happen to have a gym in your home, lucky you. (Can we come over?) If you’re a mere commoner like us, then you’ll need to make whatever space you have work. That might mean setting up a mini gym in your basement or simply moving the coffee table over three inches to fit a yoga mat. Whatever you have to move/set up/dismantle, do it well before your scheduled workout (say, the night prior if you plan on getting up and working out), so there are no barriers or excuses. “I make a space for myself that feels like my own personal studio,” Van Hare says.
4. Dress for success.
Now more than ever, it’s acceptable to wear spandex just about anywhere. Take advantage of the trend and throw on gym clothes as soon as possible, at every given opportunity. Why? Well, one study suggests that simply wearing workout gear can help motivate you to exercise.
“On workdays I come home and change into my workout clothes before anything else, and on weekends I put them on first thing in the morning,” says Antoinette Schoenthaler of New York City. “That way I have no excuses later.”
5. Go public with it.
Hold the phone—literally. Before you tweet, message, or ‘gram your workout plans, read this: You’ll have a better chance of actually working out if you keep them to yourself. One study suggests that social recognition makes us less likely to follow through with our intentions.
But after you’ve crushed your workout, feel free to shout it from the social rooftops. Take a photo #fromwhereyoustand or snap a sweaty selfie. “I find I work harder for that extra satisfaction of sharing my achievement afterwards,” Van Hare says. When you share your progress and accomplishments, you’ll build a small group of cheerleaders, and you can tap into that satisfied feeling the next time you’re on the fence about working out.
6. Use a carrot.
For real, though. It’s okay to use small rewards to persuade yourself to work out. Do we hope you’re compensating yourself with something as healthy as carrots? Sure. But if it’s sometimes pizza, turkey chili, or a salted caramel brownie, that’s okay too, because, balance.
“I usually work out right after work, so I hold off on eating dinner until after I’ve knocked out a workout,” says Julia Gassaway, Richmond, VA. “Mentally, it’s a big reward.”
If food’s not your thing, treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers if you complete all your workouts for a month.
7. Try a halfsie.
When working out at home sounds like the worst thing ever, barter with yourself. “I say I’ll do half of what I normally do,” Gassaway says. “Then, eight times out of 10, I do the full workout anyway because all I really needed was to get started.” And the two times you don’t finish? Well, at least you did half, and that’s better than nothing.
The Bottom Line
The best way to motivate yourself to work out at home is to find a routine you truly enjoy, so your at-home workout doesn’t feel like work. Then, control as many factors as you can to set yourself up for success and make it a habit. Sure, the couch looks damn good when you come home after a long day, but sinking into it will feel so much better after you’ve earned it.
40 Things to Try When You Don’t Want to Work Out
We all have the days where we plan to work out and know that we should, but when it’s time to lace up your shoes and go…You. Just. Don’t. Wanna.
I have those days, too, but when I remind myself how GOOD exercise makes me feel, and how it will help me reach my goals, I generally suck it up and do it anyway. Getting started really is the hardest part. Once you get going, you’re generally glad you did. And when it’s over, you feel even better.
But some people have less willpower or dedication. Some give in to the temptation to skip exercise too easily. While that’s fine once in a while, it can become a hard habit to break if you skip out on your workouts too often.
So recently, I polled members of SparkPeople.com, America’s No. 1 fitness and healthy living community, asking what THEY do to motivate themselves when they don’t feel like exercising. Let me tell you: These people are a creative bunch. The next time you feel less-than-enthusiastic about your upcoming exercise session, take their advice. Here are 40 things you can do (or think about) to get your workout motivation back—and get moving.
“When I don’t feel like working out, I ___.”
- Do it anyway.
- Tell myself to go for 15 minutes. If I still feel bad or unmotivated, I can quit. I have yet to quit.
- Look on Pinterest for motivation!
- Ask a friend along to the workout it helps us both with accountability.
- Do a heavy house cleaning (vacuuming, moving furniture, scrubbing) so I have a reason to work out.
- Watch a Crossfit video on YouTube. It always inspires me. Then I get it done.
- Take a 10-minute brisk walk.
- Take the dog for a long walk.
- Force myself anyway and feel better for it.
- Go to a yoga class. It gets me moving, and I always have fun!
- I sit by myself for a few minutes and think about all the things I can’t enjoy because of my poor health.
- Sometimes I find myself doing it just to get my fitness minutes for the month.
- Work out anyway…then bask in the awesomeness!
- Find something new to do! If you run then go for a swim or a bike ride. Maybe you are getting bored with the same routine.
- Complain about not feeling motivated, then go do it, since I don’t like hearing myself complain.
- I drag myself to the gym anyway. Before I realize it, an hour is passed and I’m glad I went.
- Post about your lack of motivation on Facebook, and get chewed out.
- Do it anyway because this is for me.
- Try to force myself to just do something for 1 minute (jumping jacks, squats, etc.). But usually I tell myself I will be happier that I did it instead of mad at myself for not doing anything.
- Put on my work out clothes, lace up my shoes and go for a walk. Once I’m out and moving I find my motivation.
- Do a workout video! I pick something that isn’t super-hard or complicated.
- Remember a time when I couldn’t work out, and how sad I was when I was heavier, and how I don’t want to feel sad again!
- Listen to some music—something with energy that I like. It’s funny how the right music can make you move even when you think you don’t want to, and it usually provides a mood boost, too (which is probably why I didn’t want to workout in the first place).
- Put my feelings aside and use logic and reasoning. My feelings then change after a good workout.
- Follow an “easy” DVD and tell myself I’ll do just one part of it. I end up doing it all usually.
- Put on my workout clothes!
- Do a workout at home instead of going to the gym.
- Remind myself why I started working out and how much better I feel and feel about myself when I am done!
- Do it anyway, just not as long.
- Remember how easy it is to loss fitness even after missing a few sessions.
- Put on my workout clothes first thing in the morning. Once I’m in them there’s no reason to not work out!
- Remind myself of one of Gods promises in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- Think how good I feel after a workout! Nothing else gives me that same feeling!
- Go bowling.
- I go get my small weights and start toning up.
- Do something light and slow, like yoga.
- Start working out anyway, and then, I figure I’ve already started, so I may as well finish STRONG!
- Put on dance music and move!
- Call a friend to encourage me.
- Think of all the people who can’t and I go do it and am grateful that I CAN.
There are a lot of things in life that we should do but don’t always feel like doing. For many, exercise is one of those things. But the only way to make it a habit is to do it—consistently. So next time you don’t feel like it, just do it—or something—anyway. Just get yourself moving, even if it’s light and easy, and even if it’s only for a few minutes. You’ll be glad you did!
Some people never get bored with strength training or working out. Week after week, and year after year, they can keep on doing the same thing without burning out or getting bored.
As much as I love getting stronger, lifting weights, and challenging myself in my home gym, I go through spurts where I just — don’t want to work out. I’m bored by strength training or simply don’t enjoy it.
I’m currently going through such a spurt now.
I took a few days completely off from strength training hoping that would help, as it usually does. This time, however, it didn’t work. I still had no desire or passion to lift weights or strength train, in any form. The very thought of going out to my home gym made me cringe. “I don’t wanna,” I whined in my head. (Pathetic, I know. But it’s true.)
Taking time off didn’t help reignite my passion for strength training, but instead of quitting all together, I came up with a solution.
The “I Don’t Want To Work Out, But I Know I Need To” Solution
Perform a workout of three exercises for a single, challenging set of each: a lower body movement and an upper body push and pull on a near-daily basis.
For example, I performed a bodyweight workout that went like this:
- 1a) Skater squat
- 1b) Chin-up
- 1c) Diamond push-ups
I went through that circuit one time, and I pushed each set very hard, stopping when I could do maybe one more perfect rep, but no more.
My logic behind this one-set-of-three-exercises approach was that I could easily talk myself into performing three tough sets. Because it was only three exercises, I could easily stay focused on the task at hand and work very hard because it takes only minutes.
If I felt great once I started, then I may do a second set of each exercise.
I’ve also used this approach with barbell and dumbbell exercises too.
Here’s another sample workout I performed recently that included only three exercises:
- 1a) Safety bar squat
- 1b) Standing barbell press
- 1c) One arm dumbbell row
I did the same thing — start out with one very challenging set for each exercise, and if I felt great, I’d go through the circuit a second time.
When You Just Don’t Want to Work Out, Try This
How can you use this? If you go through a spurt, as I currently am, where you just don’t want to work out and you don’t have another physical activity to participate in instead, then give this a try.
Build your own workout templates by choosing three exercises for both templates (you may want to build two templates for A and B):
Use these two sample templates to create your own:
Sample Bodyweight Workout Template A:
- 1a) Single leg squat
- 1b) Push-up
- 1c) Inverted row
Sample Weight Training Workout Template A:
- 1a) Front squat
- 1b) Dumbbell bench press
- 1c) One arm dumbbell row
Use these two sample templates to create your own:
Sample Bodyweight Workout Template B
- 1a) Single leg hip thrust
- 1b) Handstand push-up variation
- 1c) Neutral grip chin-up
Sample Weight Training Workout Template B
- 1a) RDL
- 1b) Barbell or Dumbbell push press
- 1c) Pull-up
You can come up with several different circuits for both Templates using that format. In fact, I suggest coming up with two templates for A and B (a total of four templates) that you can rotate.
And then do a circuit, or two, almost daily with those templates. It’s that simple.
It’s a good idea to alternate bodyweight and resistance workouts, as shown in the Templates above.
For example, if you normally go to the gym two or three times per week, you can perform barbell and dumbbell exercises on those days. When you can’t make it to the gym, perform bodyweight exercises at home.
Here’s how that could look if you perform one of these workouts six days per week, assuming you can make it to the gym on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Monday – Gym workout with free weights
- Tuesday – Home bodyweight workout
- Wednesday – Gym workout with free weights
- Thursday – Home bodyweight workout
- Friday – Gym workout with free weights
- Saturday – Home bodyweight workout
- Sunday – Off
You can set it up however works best for you; that’s just one of many possible examples. Just plug in the workouts you created with Template A and B.
Other Tips and Tricks
On days I have a bit more energy and feel like working a bit harder, I’ll include some rest/pause sets for bodyweight and dumbbell exercises.
I’ve explained Rest/Pause sets in this article, but here’s a brief recap: perform one all-out set of about 10-15 reps stopping when you could do one more perfect rep, rest about 30 seconds, perform as many reps as possible, rest 30 seconds, perform as many reps as possible for a third, and final, time.
Here’s the exact workout I performed yesterday using the rest/pause method:
- Chin-up – 13 + 4 + 3 (20 total reps)
- Single leg back extension – 20 pounds x 15 + 8 + 7 (30 total reps)
- Parallel bar dip – 12 + 4 + 4 (20 total reps)
That workout took a total of 15 minutes, including a warm-up. I worked hard during that brief period and the next time I repeat that workout I’ll strive to do a bit better on each exercise. As you can see, the rest/pause technique is great for working hard in a short period of time, and that’s one of the reasons it’s used in the beautiful badass bodyweight workout guide programs.
If you’ve never used rest/pause training, give it a shot. (But be prepared for muscle soreness the next day, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.).
Using Different Rep Ranges
I like to use a variety of rep ranges throughout the week so I’ll rotate:
- Heavier sets of 5-8 reps
- Moderate reps of about 10-12
- Higher rep sets in the 15-20 range
This way I train a variety of rep ranges and can reap the benefits of each; plus, it keeps things interesting.
Using the same layout as shown earlier, here’s how you could incorporate different rep ranges assuming you go to the gym three times per week and work out at home with bodyweight workouts three days per week:
- Monday – Gym workout with free weights (5-8 reps)
- Tuesday – Home bodyweight workout (15-20 reps)
- Wednesday – Gym workout with free weights (10-12 reps)
- Thursday – Home bodyweight workout (10-12 reps)
- Friday – Gym workout with free weights (5-8 reps)
- Saturday – Home bodyweight workout (either 10-12 or 15-20)
- Sunday – Off
As you can see, you could train a variety of different rep ranges with both the strength workouts at the gym and bodyweight workouts at home.
Build circuits of three exercises you plan to use via the Templates above and, depending on how you feel, perform one or two circuits of each. Work hard and improve your performance the next time you repeat the workout.
Easy peezy, lemon-squeezy.
There’s No Way That’ll Work!
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “How can one or two sets of an exercise help me achieve the results I want?” (Including fat loss).
Well let me ask you this. When you just don’t have a burning passion for strength training, what’s a better approach? To quit, all together, or to do the minimum (a quick 10-15 minute workout) most days per week?
You’ll obviously get better results by the one-or-two-sets-of-three-exercises approach than you would just sitting on the couch.
So if you just don’t want to work out right now but still want to get results, then put this to the test for a month and see how things go.
Use good exercises (as shown above), work hard, improve your performance, and track your results. Heck, you may be pleasantly surprised with the results you can achieve and you may even reignite your passion for working out again.
Only one way to find out…
Don’t Want to Workout? We’ve Got Just the Plan!
What the fitness industry often forgets is that a lot of people just don’t want to workout. This is hard to swallow for a bunch of former athletes and type A’s who got into physical training because they love exercising. We want people to feel as excited as we are about crushing a hard workout, learning the kettlebell, or beating your best Fran time.
Yet, for a lot of people fitness is a chore. They know they should exercise. They know they’d feel better if they moved more, ate better, and lived that whole song and dance, but they don’t really want to do it. Even more, they don’t want the popular fitness experience.
They don’t want to walk around a gym feeling awkward around a bunch of equipment they don’t feel comfortable using while being eyed by the gym regulars who strut around confidently. They don’t want to join an hour fitness class where they feel like they can’t breathe midway through the warmup and are then yelled at to “Push!” and “Dig deep!” by Daphne the Wonder Woman. They don’t care what pre-workout supplement you are using and they sure don’t want to hear your damn Fran time.
Let me qualify my message with another. I think CrossFit, competitive workout classes, triathlons, and all these passions of the heavily committed fitness community are wonderful endeavors. Their messages are needed and they provide unbelievable communities that help people change lives.
In fact, if their adherents are sometimes overzealous and intimidating, this is just a by-product of the value they provide. These people have had an amazing experience and they want to tell people about it. Unfortunately, a large majority aren’t interested and even if they could someday become interested, it is unlikely to be early on in their fitness experience.
Many if not most people, don’t care about being supermodels and strongmen. They don’t want to push themselves to their physical limit and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. After all, self-education is important, but you don’t see Jordan Peterson or some doctor telling all of us we have to adopt their intense study habits and annotate chapters to our limit.
Sure we should keep reading and learning, but that can take on a lot of different forms and intensities. Similarly, the typical person probably wants to move a little more freely, be a little stronger, carry a little less fat, and eat a little better, but they aren’t looking for a wholesale life change.
Brush Your Teeth, Make Your Bed, and Do Your Squats
The typical person needs to look at things differently. You aren’t that into fitness, so don’t dread going to extreme fitness classes a couple of days a week. I say movement is hygiene. It needs to be done every day as part of being a responsible, mature adult.
But it doesn’t need to be an event that requires a place, a special uniform, and a large investment of time and money. Just as you make your bed, brush your teeth, shower, and do the dishes every day, the best place to start is instilling the habit of 10 minutes of movement every morning.
You need a brief warmup and a short daily circuit that can be modified to your preferred intensity. It’s simple, easy, and, in the long run, can have tremendous positive ripple effects. That’s why of the three core habits I profess in my ebook, The Essential Guide to Self-Mastery, daily morning movement is considered the chief habit.
This may sound counter-intuitive.
You’re recommending that since I don’t like fitness, I should do it every day and in the morning when I’m least eager to move?
Yes, but allow me to tell you why and how.
First of all, “daily” is the path to any action you want to sustain. It does you no good to start doing something only to quit a month or even a year later. Anything you start should have the potential to last indefinitely.
“Daily” honors the science of habit formation and as a result our habits define our long-term actions. You brush your teeth every night because of a consistent cue—getting ready for bed and a consistent reward—the chemical induced tingly feeling in your mouth.
Likewise, you can set up a cue-routine-reward pattern for your morning movement practice that helps you follow through everyday, or at least every workday within a five day per week traditional work schedule. It becomes your workday morning routine. There is no cue more consistent than waking.
Furthermore, morning is the best time because it is the most available window in our day. Once we leave our house, check our phone, or engage with the world, we tend to be swept away by the desires of a million other people.
Planned windows close up in hectic days or are subject to the effects of diminished willpower. When you finally get the kids to bed and have that hour of one on one time with your spouse, most people aren’t saying, “Hey, give me ten minutes to exercise and I’ll be right there.”
However, in that pristine window after waking, the only agenda is your own. It is completely under your control. If you need more time then you wake up ten minutes earlier. As much as I believe in quality sleep, ten minutes never makes the difference.
Habits require consistency, however. Even if you aren’t into fitness you have to value personal development or even the easiest exercise dose won’t work. I could tell you that scratching and sniffing stickers for 10 minutes a day would improve your health, energy, etc.—and you’d still quit.
Life Can Only Be So Easy
The reality is that all we are talking about is a self-development practice. Despite modern luxury and convenience, affluent societies witness skyrocketing depression, anxiety, suicide, obesity, and drug overdose.
These are all linked. Humanity is facing an emotional crisis stemming from a lack of required personal responsibility, competency, and community effort. We all desperately need self-development practices.
Daily movement is one, but so is education, a gratitude practice, and perhaps more. All this is to say that it’s fine not to like exercise, but if you haven’t decided that self-improvement is a worthwhile pursuit, no plan will work.
So, now you are ready for the routine. You understand why daily movement is best, why the morning is the best time, and that even if you aren’t in the mood, this practice is a worthwhile component of a larger mission to live a better life. Now, how do you start?
The Best Place to Start
Attack the low hanging fruit. Make it easy to start each morning. Don’t dread it. You wake up and you’re groggy. You feel like you could lay in bed for hours longer. Your body is stiff from hardly moving over the last eight hours. You need to ease into movement. The first thing you do shouldn’t be torture. Many plans could work. The ten minute morning program I suggested in the article The Chief Habit: Your Ten-Minute Morning Fitness Plan might be perfect for many people.
However, for people who want something more simple and better for beginners I suggest the following plan.
- Child’s Pose – 3-5 diaphragmatic breaths
- Neck Nods – x3
- Neck Infinities – x3 per side
- Bird Dogs – x5 per side
- Lying Y-W Handcuffs – x5
- Down Dog – x3
- World’s Greatest Lunge – x3 per side
- Straddle Stance Thoracic Rotation – x3 per side
- Frogger Hip Thrusters – x10
Daily Workout 1
2 rounds of:
- Air Squats – x10
- Push-Ups – x5
- Split Squats – x5 per side
- 1-Leg Glute Bridge – x5 per side
- Side Plank Taps – x5 per side
If you want more variety, you can do this second workout also and just alternate each day.
Daily Workout 2
2 rounds of:
- Isometric Lunge Hold – x10 seconds per side
- Bear Crawls – 5 steps forward and 5 back
- Superman – x10
- Plank Jacks – x20
- Russian Twist – x20
If and when you want to bump things up a notch, I recommend checking out my chief habit plan, but there are plenty of options, particularly if you add bands, a bench, and a wall, or if you want to try a classical calisthenics program, or if you add a kettlebell.
Is 10 Minutes Going to Do Anything?
Many people will wonder whether ten minutes a day will even make a difference. First of all, YES! Admittedly, the results will be more modest than if you’d done 45 minutes per day, but the sustainability is far higher. Remember, there is no point in a change you only maintain for 45 days. We want to build a habit for 45 years. It is better to start slow and add more as you desire than to start with too much and quit altogether.
Still, you will feel and see the difference, but more importantly, you’ll gain the mental strength to continue growing and moving forward. As one routine becomes easy and stale you’ll be able to adopt another.
As you feel better, you’ll naturally move more in your daily life and naturally adopt slightly more polished eating habits. The positive ripple effect that follows such a powerful habit will change the trajectory of each day and, in the long run, amount to tremendous change.
There is no reason anyone has to be a fitness fanatic or keep a journal full of their PR’s. Still, physical fitness is an essential part of being a human. Like anything important, it should be tended to daily and the best way to do that is ten minutes every morning. Set the habit and, in time, you’ll appreciate the results.
‘How do you get the motivation to exercise regularly?’
It’s a question I get asked almost as often as I workout (which is around five times a week, normally) and I totally get why people struggle.
After all, much as I’d love to claim I’m one of those people who genuinely enjoys every minute spent sweating it out in the gym, the truth is I’d almost always rather be on my sofa watching Netflix. Wouldn’t we all?
However, I’m a firm believer in the health benefits of exercise, and definitely get a little antsy if I haven’t had a workout for several days. So, in the spirit of spreading this healthy habit to everyone, I decided to share my top tips…
1. Schedule your exercise in at the beginning of the week
Work, social engagements, appointments and keeping a house running can easily eat up all your time if you let it.
Each week, I open my diary and write down exactly when and how I’m going to exercise, whether it’s an early morning run or a class I can stealthily jam in between leaving the office and meeting friends in the evening. I also use this time to book into any classes I’m going to attend that week – most gyms and leisure centres now have online booking apps.
MORE: AN ATHLETE REVEALS 5 WAYS TO GET MORE OUT OF YOUR WORKOUTS
2. Keep it varied
You wouldn’t make yourself read the same book or watch the same TV show on repeat, so why do it with exercise?
When I trained for the London Marathon a few years ago, I got so sick of running that I never wanted to see a pair of trainers again. Likewise, I’d go crazy going to the same gym, to do the same fitness regime, over and over again.
Instead, I recommend a really varied routine. For me that means jogs round the park, yoga, pilates, weights sessions, spinning and aerobics – but incorporate whatever works for you, as long as you’re doing a mix of activities and you don’t approach your workout thinking ‘Oh god, not this again’.
3. Have an amazing playlist
My approach to music involves finding a song I like and then playing it to death, after which I can’t possibly listen to it for about six months because I’m so bored of the thing.
If you’re anything like me, keeping your playlist regularly updated will really affect your motivation – it might sound sad, but I genuinely look forward to having a new set of songs to run too. If you have a ‘workout’ playlist of music make sure you regularly add new tunes to the end – whether they’re new chart hits or old classics (I find anything you danced to when you were 18 works well!)
4. Don’t always go it alone
Working out alone can be very convenient, but I like to mix those solo gym sessions with group classes (it’s helpful having someone to grimace at!) and exercising with friends.
If you live with someone, then it’s hugely motivating to get them involved in your fitness regime. You don’t even have to do the same thing – my boyfriend and I force each other to go to the gym first thing on a Saturday morning, then go our separate ways: me to spinning and him to the weights section. It definitely helps if you can make each other get up off the sofa – just make sure your exercise buddy is a go-getter!
MORE: 11 WAYS TO REACH YOUR 10,000 STEPS A DAY
5. Try new things
Just like your playlist, your favourite exercise classes can get a bit stale after a while, particularly if they follow a very set structure every week.
Once a month, try a completely new class or sport – most recently I’ve enjoyed Virgin Active’s new class The Pack, which involves competitive spinning in teams (nothing more motivating than the chance of winning!) and I’ve also discovered Vinyasa yoga, which has helped no end with stretching out my sore back.
It can be slightly intimidating rocking up at a class where you assume everyone else is an expert, but in my experience, this is very rarely the case.
Me trying out The Pack (right)
6. Don’t think about it too much
If you give yourself too much leeway you will definitely think of an excuse to skip an exercise session. Believe me, I’ve convinced myself far too many times that I’m simply ‘too busy’, ‘too hungry’ or ‘too desperate to stay in bed a little longer’ to consider exercise, and I’ve always ended up feeling guilty about it afterwards.
Obviously if you are ill, injured or genuinely can’t escape the house or office, there is no need to beat yourself up about missing a session, but I find that the best thing to do is tell myself ‘this workout is happening, and you don’t have a choice in the matter!’
7. Get a fitness tracker
Ever since I got my Fitbit, I’ve definitely felt a lot more motivated to exercise – and there are plenty of good fitness trackers and apps to choose from.
Not only does it make me more inclined to take the stairs rather than the lift when I noticed that I’ve only done 2,000 steps that day, but having an activity monitor clamped to my wrist constantly also inspires me to get my heart rate up and burn calories on a regular basis. There is nothing like being able to compare your exercise (or lack of) week-to-week to spur you on!
MORE: 13 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR GYM KIT LAST LONGER
8. Don’t make exercise bottom of your priority list
Too many people see fitness as something they will do if they find the time, which means it can very easily slip out of your weekly routine.
Because my favourite exercise class falls on a certain night, for example, I don’t present that day as an option when I’m making plans with friends (don’t get me wrong – everyone needs wine night with the girls, but do it when you’re genuinely free, not when you would otherwise be getting a sweat on).
Likewise, if I notice a week in my diary is getting increasingly cluttered with appointments, I’ll make sure I don’t plan any more breakfast meetings or evening events that week, which means I can definitely slot in some exercise.
Undoubtedly, this gets harder when you have children or a high-powered job, but you should never see maintaining your own fitness as unimportant. After all, keep yourself fit and you can take on the world!
(Images: Getty, Virgin Active)