Working out consistently can be really hard.
You may have bursts of enthusiasm – at the start of the year or before a big holiday, but inevitably life will get in the way and throw you off course.
So what’s the secret to year-round, dependable fitness motivation. How do you shift your mindset so you can spring out of bed as soon as you hear your alarm?
It isn’t easy – but it can be done. We spoke to the experts to find out how to effectively hack your motivation levels.
If you struggle to feel motivated then the first thing to address is your schedule.
Often, if you leave your workout until the end of the day you have plenty of time to think up excuses, make other plans and essentially wiggle your way out of getting sweaty.
Fitness expert Scott Baptie says working out before your brain even realizes what’s going on can be a great way to make sure you actually get it done. He has a slightly odd analogy to help explain why.
‘“Eat That Frog” and workout first thing,’ Scott tells.
‘Motivational speaker Brian Tracey says that if the worst thing you must do in a day is to eat a frog, do it first and get it over and done with.
‘If exercise is your ‘frog’, get it done and dusted as soon as you can.
Running woman illustration
Find what works for you – if you can’t get up early, then go later in the day.
‘Do something you actually like. If you hate running, don’t run. If you don’t like sweaty gyms, don’t go.
‘There are loads of activities that get you moving and burn calories. You just need to find one that you don’t dread doing.’
Enjoyment is key. As is doing your fitness for the right reasons.
Rather than seeing exercise as ‘punishment’ or something that you have to do, make it something that you enjoy doing. Find the joy in feeling strong and healthy – when you shift your focus you may find yourself actually wanting to get to the gym or to a fitness class.
‘Set the barrier to entry low,’ suggests Scott.
‘Commit to just going to the gym to do a warm-up. That’s it. Chances are, once you get there you will do your warm-up and then you’ll be keen to keep going.’
Practical motivation tips
1. Book into a class
Booking a class can be a great idea when you are lacking motivation – having an instructor there to guide and motivate you can be that extra incentive you may need to help you complete your workout for that day.
There is an abundance of fitness classes available for all interests and levels of fitness – and so many opportunities to try something new.
2. Work out with a friend
Working out with a friend provides extra accountability – you may find you are less likely to cancel on your friends, it also provides an extra social opportunity.
3. Work out before work
It’s a great feeling when you have finished your workout before the day has even begun.
Getting your movement in before work has anecdotally shown to boost production levels for the day – and should your day go off track, your workout is already done.
4. Schedule movement into your diary
Scheduling your exercise in your diary like an appointment ensures your workout time is protected – working out on regular days/times can also help establish a routine.
5. Hire a PT
Hiring a PT offers the best accountability there is – as well as a personalized program, they also provide buckets of motivation and hopefully a lot of fun along the way.
If you’re really not an early bird, don’t worry – Scott isn’t 100% set on morning workouts.
‘Exercise when it’s best for you,’ he says.
‘Doing exercise on an empty stomach isn’t any more “fat-burning” compared to training later in the day.
‘If you dread climbing out of bed and going to the gym because you think it’s better for you, the good news is that it’s not. Just go at a time that works best for you.
‘Create an incentive scheme. Let’s say your goal is to go to the gym three times per week. If you do that for an entire month treat yourself to a reward like some new trainers, a snazzy shirt or a tasty meal out.’
We definitely like the sound of buying ourselves presents every month. Sticker charts worked when we were kids – this is just the grown-up version.
It’s one thing trying to motivate yourself to complete a casual workout or a jog around the block – but what if you’re an elite athlete?
Ex-England rugby player James Brown knows exactly what it takes to summon up super-human motivation day-in-day-out as a full-time athlete.
Now, James is Head of Nutrigenomics at Muhdo Health and knows how to inspire his clients.
‘There will be a whole variety of factors that will help to motivate you to exercise,’ James says.
‘The first will have to be getting the correct information that’s personalized and actually going to work for you.
‘Understanding how you respond to different types of exercise, and crucially the correct type for you, can provide you with a tremendous amount of reassurance that it will have the desired effect and actually work.
‘The next point to remember is that you must set yourself a goal, even if it’s something small like drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning.
‘Small, achievable goals will be far easier to maintain each day, than a larger goal that can seem out of reach and unattainable, which will help to keep you motivated.
‘This next step might seem extremely obvious, but listening to your favorite type of music will get all your brain synapses firing and get your adrenaline pumping at the same time.
‘It’s a physiological fact.
‘And finally, do some exercise that you will enjoy, and you actually look forward to doing, as there is absolutely no point doing something that you hate and then continue to motivate yourself to do it.’
No matter what your fitness goal is – whether you’re looking to lose weight, get stronger, lower your stress levels or you’re training for a specific event – consistency really is the key to helping you see results.
Make a plan, talk about it with supportive, encouraging friends and be kind to your body.
Remember that not working out is OK too – rest and recovery are also really important elements of any fitness regime.