4 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

We all have days when we’d rather just skip our workout and kick back on the couch.

Missing one sweat session might not be a big deal, but calling it quits one day for no good reason can make it even easier to skip the next workout, which could kickstart a bad pattern. If you’re having a hard time motivating yourself to get off your butt and hit the gym to avoid spiraling into falling off-course, try one (or all) of these four techniques to reclaim your workout mojo.

Check Your “Why”

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Do you even know why you’re spending so much time and effort on exercise? If you don’t, that’s a big problem.

Come up with your “why,” for working out, if you haven’t already. Without a strong basis, it’s too easy to justify skipping a session or two. These should be attainable, measurable goals — not just pledging to “get jacked” or exercise three days per week without any other underlying motive.

The best “whys” offer an immediate benefit like “less stress” or “better sex”, as opposed to far-off benefits like looking better naked, according to Michelle Segar, Ph.D., behavioral sustainability scientist and author of No Sweat! How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. The expert told MensHealth.com that someone’s “why” has to be strong enough to stick with you through the day-to-day grind, even when work deadlines and social commitments threaten to hijack much-needed gym time.

Recruit a Buddy

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Sometimes, having a friend in your corner can be the difference between skipping your workout and staying on track. You’re no longer the only person holding yourself accountable if blowing off a workout means blowing off your friend. Arrange to meet up with a workout buddy, or at the very least, check in with that friend, via social media or group workout apps.

According to a Dominican University goal-setting study, people who wrote down their goals, created action items, and sent their goals, action items, and a weekly progress report to a supportive friend were more likely to achieve their goals by the end of four weeks than those who simply wrote them down (76 percent to 61 percent, respectively).

If that sounds like overkill, just find a friend who also needs workout support and agree to check in with each other every week.

Switch Up Your Goal

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You might be thinking wait, didn’t you just tell me to make a goal and stick to it? We’re not suggesting you change goals every time you feel your motivation flagging, but sometimes a refresh is in order. Regardless of your specific motivations, the ultimate goal is to stay consistent with a healthy exercise regimen for the long-haul, right?

“If one goal feels more compelling at a certain point, why not change?” Segar says. “Keeping it fresh can help people stay motivated.”

The key is to have a little self-awareness: If constantly changing goals, not achieving a goal quickly enough, or failing is actively making it harder for you to stay consistent with your exercise, pick one and stick to it. Self-discipline and commitment to your why will have to keep you honest.

Be Choosy on Social Media

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You might think that following your friends’ workout posts on Instagram will motivate you to hit the gym, but a recent study in Health Communication suggests this may be a trap that can crush your self-esteem.

Researchers found that people who were exposed to exercise-related social media posts had greater weight concerns — especially when they saw see posts from people who were equally as fit as them. Why? When we compare ourselves to people we can closely identify with, we often find ways in which we’re lacking.

That said, researchers found that seeing posts from fitter people led to a more positive outlook. So, if you need some motivation to tackle your workout, scroll posts from fit people who inspire you (like these hand-picked profiles), then hit the gym to work to be the best version of yourself you can be.

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