7 Workout Motivation Tips That Will Get You Off the Couch
Workout Motivation Tips That *Actually* Work
Before we go any further, the best workout motivation tip we have for you—regardless of what excuse you struggle with—is to swap the carrot for the stick. "You didn't gain 10 pounds in 10 days, so it might take a while to lose it," says trainer Jim Karas, author of The 7-Day Energy Surge. "Be patient and visualize yourself in leaner days for positive reinforcement."
Now that you’ve got your mind right, keep these workout motivation tips handy to make fitness a real routine. (Just don’t forget to integrate rest days, too!)
"I'm too far from my goal, so why start?"
Workout motivation tip: If your goal is to lose weight, know that a little can go a long way. Just by walking a little more every day, you can lose weight in 12 weeks. When formerly sedentary women consistently tallied a weekly average of 470 steps more a day—that's about a five-minute walk—than they had the week before, they lost a quarter inch from their waist without dieting. Whether you have a lot of weight to shed or a certain distance to run, break up your goal into smaller units, suggests trainer Tracey Mallett. Little victories, like dropping a pound a week or running an extra minute without stopping, is one of her favorite workout motivation tips because it will fuel your momentum.
"I hate cardio."
Workout motivation tip: Swap endless treadmill time for circuits, suggests Karas. According to a study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, circuit training leads to the same cardio capacity and muscular endurance boost as running for the same amount of time, even when your HIIT routine is performed at a lower heart rate. (And that's just one benefit of circuit training!) Try Karas's technique: Alternate one-minute sets of upper- and lower-body moves, resting for 30 seconds in between and doing each set with enough weight so that your muscles cry uncle at 10 reps.
"I'm bored with my same old routine."
Workout motivation tip: Spicing up your steady sweat sessions with speed will wake up your mojo. Numerous studies have proven that those who integrate intervals into long runs enjoy it more—and might even get fitter faster. Music can help mix things up to, whether you run to the beat or simply need a new soundtrack. Pick your faves from our 170+ top workout jams to pump you up for your next sweat sesh.
"I don't have the energy."
Workout motivation tip: Exercising at even a very easy pace will give you more energy than if you sit it out. A University of Georgia study of people who reported persistent fatigue found that those who rode a stationary bike three times a week at low intensity got a bigger energy boost than those who didn't exercise. In a follow-up study, the same cyclers maintained the extra oomph over the six weeks they kept exercising. (Related: This Is the Best Way to Exercise to Boost Your Energy)
"No matter how hard I try, something always foils my workout schedule."
Workout motivation tip: Get a plan and then grab a pen. People who have a process goal, such as a target number of weekly workouts, stick to their routines with significantly more success than those who focus on a big-picture outcome—such as losing 20 pounds—or go along without any specific goal, a study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found; they also feel less stressed about squeezing in exercise. Next, schedule your gym time just as you would a business meeting. "That way, when someone asks if you can meet at 5, you can honestly say, 'Sorry, I have an appointment; how about 4 instead?'" says Sherri McMillan, owner of Northwest Personal Training in Vancouver, Washington. (P.S. You might want to add these awesome fitness goals to your bucket list.)
"I just don't have the time."
Workout motivation tip: "Most people think they need to exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, which can seem daunting, but you can actually get a better workout in just 20 minutes," says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., exercise science instructor at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. The time-trimming workout motivation tip: intervals. Try alternating two minutes of moderate-intensity cardio with two minutes of high-intensity intervals, Westcott suggests, for a simple-to-remember session. Still can't squeeze in 20 in one sitting? Do one 10- to 15-minute session in the morning and one after work. A study at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh found that overweight women dropped equal amounts of weight doing one 30-minute workout, two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute bouts.