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Last Updated on February 22, 2021

7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

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7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

Maybe you like hiking in the park, taking in the sights and sounds of nature, or perhaps you like to push yourself with spin classes and work up a real sweat. Maybe basketball at a local recreation league is your thing. Only you know how to motivate yourself to work out with your favorite activities.

But even though you enjoy these activities, and you like the way you feel when you are doing them, you haven’t been able to muster up the energy to participate lately.

There’s a catch-22 that often happens when you’re wanting to work out, but you’re not in the mood. Working out will boost your mood and make you feel better[1], but because of your current mood, you don’t want to work out.

Anyone can get stuck in this rut from time to time. It could be that work has been taking too much out of you, or your family and personal commitments are eating up a lot of your time and energy. You’ve got to find a way to break this cycle.

How can you get started?

Here are 7 strategies to help you learn how to motivate yourself to work out.

1. Don’t Get Sucked Into the Black Hole of the Couch

As soon as you come in the door from work, get your workout clothes on and hit the door again. If you sit down on the comfy sofa, it will take more fortitude to get yourself going. Think of your sofa as quicksand, and don’t get pulled into the trap.

It’s a simple law of physics—Newton’s first law: An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion. You can nestle into the comfy couch after your workout, but first, while you’re in motion from your day, stay in motion and find a workout to keep you moving.

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If you want to stay home and workout, no problem! Check out Lifehack’s free guide: Simple Cardio Home Workout Plan. This simple workout will motivate you to move from the comfort of your own living room.

2. Find an Accountability Partner

Studies show that having an accountability partner greatly increases your exercise frequency and success[2]. Talk to some of your friends, and find someone who has the same schedule as you, and you’ll find it easier to motivate yourself to workout.

If you want to know more on how to choose an accountability partner, check out this article.

Maybe you have a friend who would love to hike in the early morning before work, or maybe you know someone that would like to hit a dance class right after work ends. Knowing that you have to meet someone else will make you think twice about blowing off your workout.

You don’t have to have all your workouts include your partner, but even if you meet this person once a week, that will give you a boost to want to keep your workout going on other days. If you really feel that you need an accountability partner all the time, then find 2-3 people and meet them 2-3 times a week.

One caveat: if your accountability partner cancels on you, be prepared for that and keep to your schedule. Everyone has things come up every now and then, but if you find your partner is frequently trying to cancel or reschedule, you probably need to find a new partner.

If a friend isn’t doing the trick, consider hiring a personal trainer for a month or two to get you into the habit of being accountable with someone and start your fitness journey right.

3. Make Yourself Accountable

If you want to learn how to motivate yourself to work out, commit to 30 days of an exercise plan. Look at your calendar and plan out which days and times you are going to work out, including what that workout will be. Allow yourself two “do-overs” for random life events or illness—but only two.

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For example, let’s say you have a fitness goal to go to a spin class after work on a Tuesday, but a family member calls whose car broke down, and you have to go assist.

You will rearrange that date of your spin class and find a different date to put it on the calendar, but you only want to do that for necessary, external life events. Hitting the snooze button because you woke up too tired isn’t a good excuse.

If you can stick to 30 days of this plan, it should feel more like a habit going forward as you reap the benefits of having more energy and track your progress over time.

4. Integrate Some Mini-Movement Into Your Day

If you go into work and sit at a desk most of the day, it will feel good to get out and move your muscles afterward. But sometimes, it seems difficult to get out of that sedentary rut and start an exercise routine.

One solution is staying in touch with your body all throughout the day. Set a few timers on your phone during the day, and when they go off, take a few minutes to do different physical movements.

Stretching and doing forward bends or side bends are great ideas. You can stand against the wall and “peel” off of it, feeling each vertebra and releasing your lower back. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes around. Do calf raises, standing up and lifting your heels up and down.

Office stretches help you learn how to motivate yourself to work out

    For some quick office stretches, check out this article.

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    These small movements done 2-3 times throughout your workday may seem insignificant, but they will keep you attuned to your physical self a bit more so that you will be more motivated to exercise with some tough workout sessions.

    Think of them as appetizers and your workout as the big meal.

    5. Eat Something Fresh

    Speaking of a big meal, what we eat and drink is related to how we feel, so if you don’t know how to motivate yourself to work out, start with a healthy snack. If you’re not eating particularly well these days, commit to at least eating one fresh item daily. Maybe you have an apple as an afternoon snack or a little salad with dinner.

    Sometimes, we’re so busy that we don’t realize we’ve not been eating as fresh as we’d like. By making the conscious choice to seek out some fresh food, you’re taking care of yourself, which, in turn, will make you think about those same kinds of choices when it comes to exercise.

    Another benefit is that if you’re eating well, you may feel “lighter” and have more energy to workout.

    6. Create an Alter Ego

    It may sound crazy at first, but employing the use of an alter ego can be a great way to break out of a habit or create some life changes you desire. In his book The Alter Ego Effect, Todd Herman illustrates how an alter ego is a mental trick to improve your life. Many famous entertainers have used alter egos to overcome stage fright.

    How could this work for you? You may be too tired to work out at the end of the day, but your alter ego isn’t and can act like a free fitness trainer in the long term.

    Let’s say you create a character named “Ironman.” Sure, when you come in from a long day at work, you can talk yourself into wanting to relax on the couch. But Ironman doesn’t feel that way—he’s ready to throw on his sneakers, go run for 30 minutes, and stay on track!

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    7. Drink Lots of Water

    Sometimes the simplest rules are the most important. We all know we are supposed to be hydrated throughout the day. However, if you’re busy all day at work, and you’ve nursed a big tumbler of coffee all morning, suddenly it might be early afternoon and you realize you haven’t had any water today.

    Drinking water boosts mood and decreases fatigue. One study in particular found that “restricted water intake resulted in a significant increase in thirst and a decrease in contentedness, calmness, positive emotions and vigor/activity”[3].

    Drinking water, therefore, is one of the simplest, most effective ways to boost your motivation if you’re learning how to motivate yourself to work out.

    Make sure you’re getting your water intake all throughout the day, and if you’ve had coffee, drink some extra water to counteract its dehydrating effects.

    Final Thoughts

    How are you planning to stay motivated and get going this week?

    Motivate yourself to work out—pour yourself a big glass of water, get out your calendar, and think about what types of workouts you want to do.

    You can use any of the above strategies to get you back on track and make it to the finish line.

    You know how good you feel when you do, so give yourself that gift. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow—go get your sneakers on!

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    More on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Paige Bainbridge

    Pilates Instructor, Wife, Mother, Blogger/Writer, Community Activist in Nashville, TN

    workout motivation 10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation 7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2021

    9 Simple Cardio/Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

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    9 Simple Cardio/Core Exercises You Can Do At Home

    You want to work out but you don’t always have the time to implement a workout routine into your busy day. Finding time for daily exercise takes discipline and commitment, and often you feel like you need to go for a long run or intense workout at the gym in order to feel a sense of accomplishment.

    There are many simple exercises you can do at home in order to improve your strength, agility, and cardio vascular endurance. The problem with some at-home workout routines or quick exercise routines is that you might be doing the wrong kind of exercise.

    If you are trying to build upper body strength you don’t need to do squats or calf raises. On the other hand, if you are trying to build lower body strength knocking out a ton of pushups and bench dips isn’t going to help either. Make sure you determine what you want to improve on before you undertake an exercise regimen.
    Often people focus too much on upper body and lower body strength when the core of your body needs more attention than any other part. Your core keeps you stable and balanced. I like to think of it as the fulcrum of your body. Without a strong core you probably aren’t going to experience as much strength and stability in your upper and lower body. Mixing in intense cardio is always a good idea as well, and you don’t need to run 10 miles to do it.

    Instead of trying to 1,000 pushups per day focus on building your core along with some cardio. I guarantee you will feel stronger and more energetic than you ever have before, and your body will thank you.

    Here are 9 great exercises that will improve your cardio and core strength. I have also included a sample workout plan at the end of the article which incorporates all of these exercises, so please read carefully so you know how to perform each exercise properly.

    Please consult a medical professional first if you have any injuries or medical conditions to ensure you are able to perform physical activity.

    1. Sitting Holds

    This is a very simple but effective exercise to burn the core, legs, and arms all at once. Additionally you get to sit down while doing it, so it can’t be that bad!

    Sit down in a position with your feet off the ground, straight out in front of you. Hands should be extended out in front as well. You are simply going to hold this position for a given amount of time.

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    Try not to strain and tighten up your body too much while doing this. This is especially important with the back and neck. If you find yourself straining too much than stop. You can always build on the amount of time you hold this posture.

    It is important that you also stay as still as possible throughout the duration of the hold. It is going to get difficult but challenge yourself to remain in the steady position throughout.

    2. Burpees

    Some people love them. Some people hate them. Even though I do these quite a bit during my summer training, I fall in the latter group. They are very challenging, but in my opinion, there is no better exercise that incorporates complete body training (core, cardio, upper body and lower body strength). You even get a little upper body strength training when you do these, so it is a win-win.

    To do a burpee start standing straight up with your feet little more than shoulder width apart. Bring your hands to the ground in between the distance of your legs but slightly in front of your body. When you come down to the ground bend at the hips not at the back. You should bends your knees with your back straight as you bring your hands to the ground.

    As soon as your hands are on the ground, you will jump back with your legs, so that you are in a plank position (hands are shoulder width apart aligned with your chest and your back is straight, not hunching towards the ground; legs are straight back and shouldn’t be touching the ground). For an extra challenge add a pushup at this point of the burpee.

    After you get into the plank position you immediately bring your legs back up to your hands (like they were before you kicked them back into the push up position). With your knees bent, come up and jump straight up in the air. That is 1 repetition.

    3. Mountain Climbers

    If climbing mountains isn’t your forte than this will be probably be the closest you get to climbing an actual mountain. This is a great workout for your core, cardio, and lower body.

    You are going to start in a plank position. It is important that you keep your core tight and strong the entire time you do this exercise. The tendency during this exercise is for your body to droop towards the ground or be arched towards the sky as you get tired. You want to make an effort to keep your back straight and don’t allow it to come out of the perfect push up position. This can lead to back problems.

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    From the push up position you alternate your feet up and back towards your stomach. You are trying to knee yourself in the stomach (not literally but for the exercise purpose). When the right knee comes up, the left knee stays back. When the right knee goes back, the left knees comes up towards the stomach. You do this as rapidly as you can. You want a full range of motion so ensure you are bringing your knees up as far as possible and stretching them back as much as possible.

    Your hands shouldn’t be too far out in front of you. They should be right around your shoulders. By this, you are also receiving an upper body workout because you are holding the plank position as well as moving your feet as fast as possible.

    4. Running High Knees

    This is a great cardio exercise that incorporates an intense range of motion from your legs. You can do this exercise running in place or with movement. The goal of this exercise is to get your knees up as high as possible and as quickly as possible. It is beneficial when you stay on your toes and utilize quick movements. As soon as your toe hits the ground you explode back up with your knee.

    Use your arms properly when doing this exercise. Similar to running you want to alternate your hand and knee movements. When the right knee goes up, the left arm comes up simultaneously. When the right knee goes down, the left arm goes down. Maintaining an effective arm and leg movement balance will help you get into a rhythm as you speed up and increase the intensity of the exercise.

    5. Step Ups

    Find something in your house that is solid and won’t move if you step on it. I suggest using a sturdy couch or chair, maybe even a bench if you have one available. If you don’t have anything solid then place a chair against the wall so it won’t move. Make sure the height of the chair or bench is not too high to where you can’t step onto it comfortably.

    The goal of this exercise is explosive movements. Again you are focused on a complete range of motion. Step up onto the platform of your choosing with one leg. With the opposite leg you are going to explode it in the air and then step back down onto the ground. If this motion is too difficult than simply step onto the platform with the other leg. Alternate legs and repeat.

    Use your arms effectively during this exercise to ensure that you give your arms a solid workout, and to assist you as you explode your legs onto the platform. For example when you put your right leg onto the platform, the left arm is already up in the air. As you explode onto the platform with the left leg, the right arm raises up to boost this movement. The left arm falls to the side.

    As you create a dynamic pace, challenge yourself to see how quickly you can alternate feet. This will increase the intensity of the cardio. Stay on your toes and focus on swift movements up and down from the platform.

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    6. Jumping Jacks

    You probably did these when you were a kid. These are a staple for many youth physical education classes. Even though this is a basic exercise it can be quite effective when completed with vigor and you guessed it, full range of motion.

    Start standing straight up with your hands at your sides and your legs together. Jump your legs out so that they land wider than shoulder width apart. Simultaneously, your arms should move straight out over your head until your hands meet. It is not imperative that your hands touch over your but it is an effective reference point to ensure you use full range of motion with your arms. Then jump back to the starting point. This is one repetition.

    The focus of the exercise is to work both the lower body and the upper body. By jumping the legs to a point that is slightly uncomfortable you are stretching out the hips and gluteus maximus muscles, which are all essential for core strength as well.

    The more rapidly you perform this exercise the better cardio results you are going to experience. As is the case with most of these exercises, stay on your toes as much as possible. Try not to land on your heels when jumping out because this will restrict the pace at which you exercise.

    7. Towel Knee Bends

    This exercise is great for the entire body but it really targets the middle core. You will need a large towel or two small towels for this exercise as well as a slippery surface in which to perform it.

    Start out in a plank position with the towel(s) at your feet. Hands should be shoulder width apart underneath your shoulders. Bring both feet up at the same time as far as possible. Then bring your legs back down into the plank position. This is one repetition.

    Similar to the mountain climbers, you are attempting to knee yourself in the stomach. You don’t want your knees to come together because this takes away from the isolation of the exercise. Each leg must work on its own to thrust towards the stomach. This range of motion is important because you want to experience the full benefits of the exercise.

    Keep your core aligned the entire time you do this exercise. Don’t allow the back to hunch upward or slouch downward. Part of the challenge is holding the plank position coupled with the leg movement.

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    8. Towel In and Outs

    For this exercise you are going to need two small towels, one for each foot. Start out again in the plank position just as the previous exercise. This is a core exercise as well, but it focuses more on external oblique muscles, or the side of your abdominals.

    Instead of bringing both feet towards your stomach you are going to extend both feet outward, away from one another. You want to push your legs out as far as possible depending on how flexible you are in the hip region. Try to extend your legs at least shoulder width apart. If you are unable to stretch them that far, than go as far as you can. Then bring your legs back together to the starting plank position. That is one repetition.

    As the intensity of this exercise increases and you become tired, there is a tendency to use more legs than core. You want to try to avoid this. Concentrate on using your core to extend your legs back and forth. Do less reps if necessary but make sure this is a core exercise, not merely a lower body exercise.

    9. Wall Sit

    This title doesn’t leave much for the imagination. You are literally going to sit against the wall. This is a great way to finish your workout. It is primarily a lower body workout but it also integrates some core training.

    Sit against the wall with your back straight against the wall. Your feet should be right under your knees. Make sure your knees are not extended over your toes. This can be detrimental and cause knee pain. On the other hand your feet should not be extended too far out underneath your knees because this takes away from experiencing the stretch in your quadriceps and the rest of your legs. You should be sitting in a position with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle. Arms should be above your head or laterally at your side the entire time. Do not place your hands on your knees.

    Your Training Plan

    Exercise                               Repetitions/Time                                      Rest
    Sitting Hold                           15 seconds-1 minute                                   15 seconds
    Burpees                                5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
    Mountain Climbers                 5-25 each leg                                              30 seconds-1 minute
    Running High Knees               5-15 each leg                                             30 seconds-1 minute
    Step Ups                              10-25 each leg                                            30 seconds-1 minute
    Towel Knee Bends                 5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
    Towel In and Outs                  5-20                                                           30 seconds-1 minute
    Wall Sit                                 15 seconds-30 seconds                              30 seconds

    These are simply repetition and time estimates for a basic workout plan. I have no idea what your conditioning level is. If you can’t do the allotted repetitions, that is perfectly ok. Figure out how many repetitions you can do but challenge yourself by doing them correctly every time. When you can’t do anymore reps properly, then you are finished with that exercise.

    The rest periods are seemingly low and not enough time but in order to improve your cardio on your own it is imperative that you perform highly intensive exercises with shorter recovery times. This will challenge your cardio, help you lose fat, and stress your body in an appropriate manner. If it becomes too intense and you need more time to rest, than take the time you need. You know your body better than anyone else. These are mere guidelines. Eventually as you continue exercising you may notice you need less and less time to recover before the next exercise.

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    The amount of sets you execute is ultimately your decision. Start out with one set and see how it feels. If you are unable to complete one set of all these exercises, then finish what you are capable of. I think you will observe profound changes in your fitness levels by consistently taking the time to perform these exercises. Good luck and have fun!

    Featured photo credit: Girls With Muscle via girlswithmuscle.com

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