10 Workout Motivation Tips That Will Get You Off the Couch

Proven Methods That Actually Work.

Woman stretching on a trail with a fitness tracker as workout motivation tips
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The hardest part of beginning a new workout routine is just getting started. You may have the best of intentions, but external obligations, lack of energy, and simply not knowing where to start can often hold you back. To get motivated to workout (and stay that way), you need to have a solid plan, personal goals, and ways to keep your exercise routine fresh. 

In order to develop a workout routine that works for you, keep these pointers handy (and don’t forget to integrate rest days, too!) These workout motivation tips will help you get off the couch to cue up an at-home workout or head to the gym.

01 of 10

Where to Start

woman taking a 5 minute walk for workout motivation
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Workout motivation tip: If you need the motivation to just get started, understand that by simply walking a little bit every day, you can build strength in your joints and lower your stress. Even a short 10-minute walk will do you good. After getting comfortable with your walking routine, little victories, like increasing the duration of your walk or your speed will motivate you and fuel your momentum.

02 of 10

Write Down Your Goals

Young woman running near ocean as part of workout motivation
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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, are more successful at sticking to their routines than those who focus on a big-picture outcome, or go along without any specific fitness goals, a study in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found. They also feel less stressed about squeezing in exercise. 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.

03 of 10

Begin With Short Workouts

Woman practicing yoga at home as workout motivation

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., author, and retired exercise science chair 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.

04 of 10

Get Started at Home

woman using workout motivation tips to get in a workout at home
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Workout motivation tip: Instead of waiting until you have time to join an in-person exercise class, get started with a beginner at-home workout. Mix things up by sampling your way through our favorite YouTube channels jam-packed with free workouts. Or enlist in our 30-day cardio HIIT challenge that you can do at home with zero equipment.

05 of 10

Add Bursts of Exercise to Your Daily Routine

Stairs workout, stair exercises at home - trainer intro/warm-up (woman working out on stairs inside)
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Workout motivation tip: One easy way to incorporate more exercise into your daily life is to look for opportunities to take the stairs or walk a few extra steps. Instead of waiting for the elevator at your office, give yourself an energy boost by choosing the stairs. And when it's time to park your car, don't just grab the nearest spot, look for one that gives you a chance for a quick walk before you arrive at your destination.

06 of 10

Switch up Your Cardio

Close-up of athletic woman exercising with kettlebell at gym
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Workout motivation tip: Swap endless treadmill time for circuits, suggests trainer Jim Karas, author of The 7-Day Energy Surge. 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.

07 of 10

Integrate Intervals Into Your Routine

Female running on treadmill doing intervals as workout motivation
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Workout motivation tip: Spicing up your steady sweat sessions with speed will wake up your mojo. Studies of world-class athletes demonstrate the positive effects of interval training. Integrating intervals into long runs can make it more enjoyable and you might even get fitter faster. Music can help mix things up too, 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.

08 of 10

Get Fueled by the Increased Energy

Young woman yawning and stretching needs workout motivation
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Workout motivation tip: Exercising at a moderate pace will give you more energy than if you sit it out. A study on The Effect of Chronic Exercise on Energy and Fatigue States found that moderate-intensity exercise improves feelings of fatigue, energy, and vitality. Similarly, a prior study from the University of Georgia reported an energy boost in participants with persistent fatigue who rode a stationary bike three times a week at a low intensity compared with those who didn’t exercise. In a follow-up study, the same cyclers maintained the extra oomph over the six weeks they kept exercising.

09 of 10

Invite a Friend to Join You

Two Women Exercising Outdoors
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Workout motivation tip: Working out with a partner can make the time you spend exercising go by faster and more enjoyable. Beyond that, having an exercise buddy also makes you more accountable so you’ll be more likely to show up for every session. For even more motivation, you can join a local exercise group or class at your gym. 

10 of 10

Don't Compare Yourself to Others

Woman looking at social media on her phone.

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Workout motivation tip:  One of the quickest ways to derail your motivation to exercise is by comparing yourself to others. Set your own realistic goals, start where you are, and only measure your progress against your own goals. With this in mind, you can build a healthy relationship with exercise that will last a lifetime.

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