1) Find a workout buddy
A friend who is at about your fitness level or above it can really help motivate you to 1) show up and 2) put in more effort at the gym.
Gym buddies can offer accountability. If you’re having trouble waking up early enough to get to the gym before work, setting a time to meet your gym buddy can give you that extra buzz on your cell to launch your butt out of bed. If you’re contemplating skipping out on the gym after work, a scheduled date with your workout partner will give you pause before you stand them up. Hopefully, your partner isn’t only providing you with accountability through guilt tripping… I hope that you also look forward to their company!
If your workout buddy is also at your fitness level or slightly above, they can offer friendly competition to increase your weight, reps, or speed. Even if he or she isn’t physically matched well with you, working alongside someone else can help you sustain or bolster your efforts. They can provide a spot if you’re lifting heavy, and they can cheer you on!
2) Have a plan with a set start/end time & at least one exercise you are looking forward to
Putting some constraints on your workout, such as a start and end time is crucial to help you maintain a balanced lifestyle. Implemented over time, it’s a necessary step to sustain your fitness habit for a lifetime of good movement and good health.
You don’t want to overtrain your body and cause injury by putting in extra long hours at the gym. But also, you don’t want to subject yourself to a workout that lasts 2-3 hours because your were taking long rests and wasting time on your phone. Most strength workouts should last about an hour. You may be able to crush a workout in 30-45 minutes, or the workout might take an hour and a half, depending on your goals and exercise program.
Always have at least one thing you’re looking forward to in your workout. No, a nap on the stretch mats doesn’t count. A lot of my clients will admit to me that their favorite part of the session is when I stretch them at the end. But all of them also have exercises that they enjoy throughout our workout. Some were working on getting a pull-up for the first time, and the challenge of the exercise motivated them. Some clients loved to toss the medicine ball around because it reminded them of when they played sports in school. Others enjoyed it when we went into the fitness studio and blasted their favorite music while doing full-body exercises and metabolic training.
Find what you enjoy, and work it in! If your entire workout is complete mental and physical torture… I’m going to bet you won’t keep up your fitness routine for very long. Fitness should be fun and challenging. So mix it up!
3) Hire a personal trainer
If you don’t know someone who shares your desire to get in shape at the gym or you and your friends’ schedules just don’t align… hiring a personal trainer is a good, dare I say, better option than a workout buddy. That being said, a personal trainer is not free and not cheap. If they are free or cheap, you should really investigate their credentials and experience.
Why personal training? Here’s the quick list of reasons.
- keep you accountable to your gym schedule
- provide you with individualized exercise plans to reach your goals
- can expertly adjust your plan based on injuries, crazy work/life events, and many things that life throws your way.
- push you harder than you would push yourself (and they know safe, step-by-step exercise progressions that your workout buddy probably doesn’t know)
- provide encouragement when you’re down
- don’t let you give bullshit excuses when you’re not trying hard enough
- have empathy and cut you some slack when you need it
I just had to add in those last three bullets because I want everyone to know that personal trainers aren’t just crazy fit people who either yell at you like a drill sergeant or clap encouragement at you like a cheerleader.
A good trainer is first a human being who understands that life throws things at us all, and we just have to do the best we can. A great trainer is one who recognizes those obstacles and helps clients readjust and reach their goals by troubleshooting and offering realistic advice.
4) Psych yourself up for it
How do you get in the mood to workout? Here’s some suggestions:
- Music: I like to put on my workout playlist when I hop in my car and blast it on the way to the gym. On some days that I can’t wait to finish what I’m doing and get my body moving at the gym, I might prep a little more and throw together a new workout playlist to listen while working on my laptop. I’m overdue to make a new playlist, but feel free to check out my hip-hop weight training playlist on SoundCloud, full of Logic, Joyner Lucas, and Wale.
- Pre-workout or caffeine: Some of my friends and clients love pre-workout. Honestly, I’m not a bit fan of it with that crazy niacin flush. I hate it. Plus, a lot of them are filled with crap you don’t even know is in it. (Look for an NSF certified for Sport brand to get a little cleaner product.) I’m not going to go down a rabbit hole and talk about pre-workout supplements here. Maybe in a later post. But caffeine really does boost you up! Depending on the time of day and your body’s sensitivity to it, consider having a pre-workout caffeinated drink like coffee or tea to help amp you up for your workout!
- Watch a motivational video: Oh, oh, I love this suggestion! If you’re really feeling low and have come up with every excuse in the book on why you can’t get your workout in today… Just hop on YouTube and watch some super inspiring videos. It doesn’t even have to be something new! I’ve known clients and trainers who just love to watch the same video over and over again to get them hyped and remind them of their goals. Here’s some suggestions:
- How Bad Do You Want It? (Success) – “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful” Lol it makes me chuckle that they had to put success in parentheses… otherwise this video could be something very different…
- Parkour Shattered Feet to Shattered Feats – Injury to Recovery video
- Just search on YouTube for things like “workout inspiration” “female workout inspiration” “fitness motivation,” etc. Comment below and let me know what videos motivate you!
5) Download a show or podcast to watch while you do cardio
Multitask! Of course! I don’t recommend that you always do this when getting in your cardio. If you’re trying to watch a show or listen to a slow droning podcast every time you hop on a cardio machine, chances are that you’re not pushing yourself as hard as you could be. But, Netflix and podcasts are great for steady state or low intensity cardio like walking on a treadmill, or getting your legs moving on a bike, elliptical, or even stair master. Don’t try this while practicing intervals or if you’re really trying to push your intensity to new levels. That’s where I recommend you rev up the volume on your high-energy cardio playlist!
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