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Last Updated on February 22, 2021

7 Strategies on How to Motivate Yourself to Work out

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

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    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 April 19, 2021

    15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

    15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

    Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

    Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

    For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

    Benefits of Static Stretches

    Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

    Improved Flexibility

    If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

    Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

    Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

    Prevent Injuries

    If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

    Think of it this way:

    When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

    Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

    Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

    For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

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    However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

    Improvement in Recovery

    If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

    Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

    Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

    Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

    Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

    • Improved relaxation
    • Increased movement efficiency
    • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
    • Reduction in muscle tension
    • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
    • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
    • Relief from cramping

    15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

    Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

    1. Neck Stretch

      While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

      Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

      2. Chest Stretch

        Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

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        3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

        Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

          Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

          4. Triceps Static Stretch

            Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

            Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

            5. Biceps Stretch

            Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

              Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

              6. Wrist Stretch

              11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

                While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                7. Side Stretch

                  Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                  The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

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                  8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                    Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                    9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                    Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                      Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                      Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                      10. Knees to Chest

                      Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                        Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                        11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                        How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                          Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                          12. Figure 4 Stretch

                          How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                            Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                            13. Standing Quad Stretch

                              Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

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                              Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                              14. Hamstring Stretch

                                Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                15. Calf Stretch

                                  Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                  Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                  Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                  Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                  When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                  Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                  This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                  That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

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                                  Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                  More Tips on Stretching

                                  Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

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